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Bize Minervois (11120)

Bize Minervois

The first mention of Bize dates to 911, a certain Walcharius (romany wisigoth?) would have left the parish of Saint-Saturnin of Bizan to the archbishop of Narbonne.

Bize underwent many changes during the wars of religion. Taken and re-taken, it became in 1573 a Protestant fortified town and a threat for the Catholic Narbonnais.
Since then, they understand the usefulness of building ramparts, crowned by a covered path around the battlements, flanked by towers and  encircled with water.

The main watch tower  acted as a "hot watch tower" where boiling liquids were poured onto the on coming enemy.. It gave a panoramic view on the northern ramparts of the city. Today the moats have been filled up and transformed into gardens and properties. Three tunnels from the castle (Le Logis Colbert) are still in place under the ramparts (to help women,children and animals escape the marauders).


Constructed by 1236, two doors provided entrances and controls into the heart of Bize:

The main entrace- La Porte Saint-Michel, controlled the route from Narbonne, and the Porte St Croix , at the opposite end of Bize (destroyed in XIX ° to make an easier passage for carts) controlled the routes from Boussecos, Agel, Minerve and Saint-Pons.


Four or five lookout towers  defended the ramparts and allowed  access for the villages. Each was maintained by a guild.

We owe the conservation of the tower to an Italian bricklayer (managed by Prosper Mérimée who was in charge of  Ancient monuments).

Today, Bize is a throbbing village (1000 inhabitants).One never needs to leave Bize- as all requirements are catered for.2 alimentations , 1 bar, 2 restaurants,a Tabac, library,school, cinema (as you enter the Salle de Fetes, you take your chair from a pile and place it anywhere you desire), an opera-singing Butcher,2 hairdressers, a bakery,post office, boulodrome, a sweet shop and of course a wine shop. The river Cesse becomes a swimming pool in summer, with a large area of gravel beach, steps into it and a lifeguard.

There also is a tourist train that runs from Narbonne to Bize - via L'Oulibo- a shop specialising in all olive products- and back again. If you are ever nearby, make sure you come and see us.

Michael Bowditch

August 2006



A series of articles by residents describing their towns and villages. Why not add yours ?



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