The villages of Corbières and Minervois, typically southern, are the result of centuries of history. Their shape and organization still speak of ancient times today and testimonies of past activities are often scattered here and there around alleys and plots.

From prehistory to the Roman period

Human occupation in Corbières Minervois is very old. For prehistoric periods, traces are fleeting, except for dolmens (Massac) or sets of type oppidum like that of Ornaisons (Mourrel).
The Romans occupant la Narbonne province From -118 and begin to organize, manage and use the space. In the Lézignan plain, the ideal place of passage for the Via Aquitania, over the course of agricultural work, came to the surface, pottery, tegulae, fragments of funerary stelae, lamps ... evidence of the past organization of the land within the framework of the " Villa ", whose etymological root is found in our famous village.

The castle village

The villages that you will visit during your travels each have their own history. The first historical traces go back between the XNUMXth and XNUMXth centuries for the majority. The first nuclei of occupation are then created, the first foundations.

Le castral village is the village par excellence of our territory. It is built on a rocky eminence (Cucugnan, Laroque-de-Fa), a promontory (Albières which controlled the valley of Orbieu), a hill (Soulatgé, monitors the valley of Verdouble) or a hill (Conilhac-Corbières is built on a small hillock, as well as Tourouzelle).


It is judiciously placed near a watercourse or at the confluences, on a communication axis and favorably oriented due south. Padern controls for example the gorges of Torgan and Verdouble.


At the top of the hill, was the seigneurial castle, which surrounded itself with the houses of the peasants who came to take shelter. The houses were stacked around it, themselves forming ramparts.
If today, you are looking for these ancient castles, you will only discover a few elements of the fortifications, or the old castle church, which over time has become the village church (Crusades, Montgaillard, Cascastel).
Fabrezan still proudly wears its stately tower. In Lanet, the painter Max Savy made the imposing castle his home of choice. In Argens-Minervois, the imposing mass of the castle is reflected in the green waters of the Canal du Midi. Finally, in Durban, the impressive ruins of the castle dominate the village from their majestic height. And if you are looking for a little trip back in time, go through the door of the snail district of Saint Laurent-de-la-Cabrerisse, the nucleus of the old castle village in its XNUMXth century juice.


Ecclesial origins

Other villages have more ecclesial origins. The habitat, instead of being organized around a castle, will be concentrated around the church. This is the case for Lézignan-Corbières, Mouthoumet, Duilhac-sous-Peyrepertuse, Saint-André-de-Roquelongue, Quintillan, and Tuchan.


Having a church or the presence of a priory (Saint-Martin-des-Puits) as its origin does not prevent these villages from retaining traces of fortifications identical to that of the seigneurial “castrums”. This is the case of Mouthoumet and Tuchan who each have a "Strong" corresponding to primitive nucleus of the village.

There are also several special cases in Corbières Minervois. The village of Lagrasse grows in mirror image of the abbey on the opposite bank. In Villerouge-Termenès, the village is built around the seigneurial castle. But in this case of a seigneurial castrum, the lord was the archbishop of Narbonne. This important politician and religious, demonstrated his secular power through a castle with four large imposing towers.
Finally, in Termes, the castrum of Olivier de Termes was destroyed by the King of France and all the population moved to the site of the current village. Space was needed to build the military fortress that can be visited today.
In the same way, the old castral habitat of Peyrepertuse was destroyed and the populations displaced on Duilhac, to consecrate the military use of the spur of the castle.

Extinct habitats

All these villages correspond to habitats which “managed” to last over time. At the heart of scrubland and scrubland, toponymy and archeology can reveal traces of ancient settlements, deserted at different times: either during the organization of medieval settlements, such as Davejean or Montjoi, or more late from the XNUMXth century, for example the village and the castle of Bouisse in Montséret, Castelmaure in the town of Embres-et-Castelmaure, or even Luc-sur-Orbieu.

La Bouisse Montséret
the ruins of the château de la bouisse in montséret

Constantly evolving villages.

Strolling through the alleys of the villages in Corbières and Minervois, you will no longer be challenged by the mass of a castle, a fortified gate or the presence of a church in the heart of an ancient network of alleys. However, you will quickly realize that these villages certainly have a medieval birth, but have known how to grow and evolve over the centuries. Very often medieval settlements were razed or abandoned and it is the barris or suburbs that were more successful. In the XNUMXth century, the cartography of our villages evolved in front of the modern necessities and development of viticulture.

On the old ditches, are built wide avenues planted with plane trees… The obsolete fortifications disappear, the village opens, expands and is organized around the public school and the town hall… when it is not the dead that we move.
For some villages, the wine culture brings a new demographic boom, new districts are emerging along the freshly cut avenues, putting the spotlight on Mansion, winegrowers' houses and cellars (Fabrezan, Moux, Canet, Boutenac, Saint-Laurent -de-la-Cabrerisse). A new living together is being organized in this way.

village of Saint Laurent de la Cabrerisse