Sunday, 7 October 2012
There’s a region near us, or where we’re staying now, called the Minervois, defined now as a wine region which historically was centered at Minerve. Many of the towns in this area have a version of Minerve in their names, a pattern I don’t remember from elsewhere in France. We looked in vain for a dolmen in the shrub-dominated garrigue on the ridge above town. Instead we discovered an incredible view, tinted in gorgeous shades of blue.
Several dolmen are known across the Minervois. This one is called Dolmen des Fades (or some variation thereof). Dolmen are, at least in the original definition, Neolithic-period megalithic tombs built across a broad swath of Europe. Seems to me that most of them are “empty” by now. We could tell there was quite a bit of reconstruction on this one, but the big stones did not appear to be from this hill. That’s a quick assessment, though.
A bit later, we arrived at the east gate of the Cité, the fortified old town of Carcassonne (history in summary here and detailed here). The fortification has (at least) double walls, many towers and shooting positions, and encloses a separate fortified chateau (had a moat? now filled?)—look here (43.20731,2.36313).
I haven’t mentioned the Canal du Midi—we saw it yesterday (near Beziers first), and have been seeing it here and there as we cruise the countryside. Okay, here are the boaters at Homps, the “port” for Olonzac (our present home). The canal was built to facilitate a shipping route that avoided the Iberian coast, including the Barbary pirates.
I knew I could get us back to the political economy.