The village of hills
Tourbes sits amongst hills dotted with vineyards, garrigue and pine forests, on the outskirts of Pézenas. Slip on your trainers, head for the hiking trails and enjoy the sound of chirping cicadas.
A one-thousand-year-old village
The first mention of the village of Tourbes appeared in 990. From 1261 onwards, Tourbes’ history runs parallel to that of Pézenas; this was the year in which the two towns were purchased by King Louis IX, better known as Saint-Louis.
Stroll through the village centre where you’ll see several houses from the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries, a legacy of the past, as well as the impressive, 14th century Saint-Saturnin church with its Mediterranean Gothic architecture. Its cross-shape design illustrates the importance of the Beziers’ cathedral chapter which owned the property at the time.
More than just a winegrowing region
The influence of this wine Mecca on the history of the Languedoc is much in evidence here. During the 19th century the old ditches were filled and transformed into boulevards lined with elegant winegrowers’ houses.
Fancy a break? Visit our wine estates and sample some of our elegant, sophisticated wines or head for the Saint-Roch winery, the winegrowers’ wine cooperative.
Do you enjoy walking in the middle of the countryside? There are three marked trails for those who wish to explore Tourbes’ rich natural heritage: “Le sentier rivière et sous-bois” (River and Undergrowth), “A la découverte de l’orchidée sauvage” (Discovering Wild Orchids) and “Autour du vignoble,” (Around the Vineyard). Ask for the topoguide at the tourist information office.
Saint-Roch chapel, perched on top of one of the village’s hills, is certainly worth a visit. Follow the path, dotted with sturdy fig trees, through the vines, guided by the figure of Saint-Roch and his dog who sit on top of the chapel roof. This Saint, who was afflicted by the plague in Italy, during the 14th century, was cured by a dog who came to see him each day to lick his wounds.
According to oral history reports, an outbreak of miliary fever devastated the South of France in the mid 19th century, affecting the children in particular. In 1851, Abbot Anglade, the parish priest, asked the community to help build a chapel dedicated to Saint-Roch, which they did and the epidemic disappeared. Since then, a mass has been celebrated in this small chapel in mid-August and local residents come here on pilgrimage.
Gabriel François Venel, inventor of Seltzer water
This leading physician, from the Age of Enlightenment, born in Tourbes in 1723 has been described as the “great inventor of Seltzer water,” a water known for its therapeutic, digestive and diuretic properties. In 1771, improvements in technology allowed him to create a light, sparking water, by adding carbon dioxide to pure water in a siphon. A guaranteed success in Parisian brasseries!