This morning the rain was still pelting down, not a good start to a walk!!
We went down to breakfast, and met Janet, another Aussie and the last of our team, who had arrived late last night. After breakfast, Julien said he would go into the town to buy our lunch provisions, and as it was so wet he would change the program for the day. We could go up and look at Foix castle and we would meet back at the hotel at 11 in the hope that the rain would ease by then. We were happy to hear this as the Aussies were keen to look over our first 'Cathar' castle. Julien later explained that the Cathars didn't have castles, except for Montsègur, as they just stayed with the local lords to hide and escape persecution.
Angela the Brit had been here before, as she loves this walk and this was the third time she had done it!! (Though luckily it was slightly different each time.) She knew the castle also. So off we went, and the rain stopped immediately!! A good omen for the whole walk!!
On the way we passed a few trees like this
and it turns out to be Elderflower, from which the cordial is made. Very pretty flowers and tree, but little or no smell.
The way up to the castle is a zig zag. The castle was built in 987 and bequeathed to the Count of Foix by the Count of Carcasonne - in these times France was not as large as it is today, and the south was made up of independent Counties, under the rule of many separate counts. The Chateau de Foix was a centre of Occitan resistance and a bolt hole during the Albigensian Crusade and the persecution of the Cathars. It was never taken, despite being attacked by that notable mercenary, Simon de Montfort. In 1470 the Count of Foix became King of Navarre, then eventually Henry IV of France, at which time he annexed his county to the kingdom of France. The Chateau then served as a political and civil prison until 1862. Since 1930 it has housed the Ariège Department Museum.
It's thus in pretty good nick, as it has been inhabited for such a long time. It has 2 square towers from the 11thC and a round one from the 15thC.
We went up the round tower, which has a roof terrace and thus affords stunning views of the town.
There is a central hall between two of the towers and King Henry's bed is there, as well as some lovely carved capitals
The prisoners have carved the stone in the window embrasures, from where they could see the unattainable world
We left through the tunnel under the square tower
We then hopped into Julien's van and drove through the countryside to the village of Roquefixade.
We put on our packs and raincoats, took poles and set off along a small path that wound around the mountainside, towards the distant ruin of Roquefixade castle.
And another new post for that!!