The medieval town of Mirepoix, an architectural jewel of Ariège

Mirepoix
The medieval town of  ...

Located in the heart of the Cathar country, between Foix, Toulouse and Carcassonne, the fortified town of Mirepoix has been able to resist enemy attacks as well as those of time to reach us today intact. Labeled as one of the "Most beautiful villages in France", Mirepoix is an unmissable jewel of Ariège for lovers of history and architecture. Behind its ramparts, the multicolored half-timbered houses, the sumptuous Place des Couverts, the imposing Saint-Maurice cathedral and the small stalls immerse us with fascination in the medieval atmosphere of this former Cathar stronghold.


The medieval town of Mirepoix, an architectural jewel of Ariège
The Porte d'Aval, defensive building of the medieval town
The medieval town of Mirepoix, an architectural jewel of Ariège
The medieval town of Mirepoix, an architectural jewel of Ariège

Explore the narrow streets of Mirepoix on foot and dive into the past!

A cultural heritage at the origins of history

A little trip in the corridors of time that tells you? Once you have crossed the Porte d'Aval, time seems to have stopped in the small medieval town of Mirepoix, as if "frozen" in this great period of our history that is the Middle Ages. Surrounded by ramparts, the narrow streets can be explored on foot and with your head in the air so as not to miss anything of its singular architecture. Nothing better than a walk to discover the importance of this market square and drapery center in history, a real archetype of the medieval city. The famous Place des Couverts inaugurates our discovery of Mirepoix wonderfully well. The city revolves around this central square, surrounded by superb galleries supported by oak pillars, called "covers" and surmounted by houses with exposed beams and colored facades.


The good idea: Visit the village of Camon, which is about ten kilometers from Mirepoix.


The medieval town of Mirepoix, an architectural jewel of Ariège
The medieval town of Mirepoix, an architectural jewel of Ariège
The medieval town of Mirepoix, an architectural jewel of Ariège
The medieval town of Mirepoix, an architectural jewel of Ariège


All around the tree-lined square, the arcades offer a very pleasant walk, lined with small shops, artists' galleries, café terraces and restaurants. Take the time to admire these half- timbered houses up close: the joinery, the details of the woodwork, the carved structural parts characteristic of the most well-to-do homes. The most beautiful sculptures can be found on the most imposing house in the square: the Maison des Consuls (the municipal magistrates) dating from the 15th century. Nearly 103 sculptures of heads, figures, grimacing monsters and animals adorn the ends of its beams. These perfectly preserved medieval representations constitute a curiosity that has made Mirepoix famous.


The medieval town of Mirepoix, an architectural jewel of Ariège
The medieval town of Mirepoix, an architectural jewel of Ariège

The house of the Consuls to see absolutely!

The medieval town of Mirepoix, an architectural jewel of Ariège
City Hall
The medieval town of Mirepoix, an architectural jewel of Ariège
The covered hall


In the center of the Place de Couvert, a covered wrought iron hall houses one of the largest markets in the region every Monday. Dominating this historic place of exchange and commerce, the imposing Saint-Maurice Cathedral exerts its irresistible power of attraction. Don't hesitate to push open the door of this medieval Gothic-style building with the widest nave in Europe (22 meters!). Dating from the end of the 13th century, its construction spanned six centuries! It houses an organ from 1891 classified as a “Historic Monument”. Made by Wilhelm Eugen Link, it is in fact the largest fully preserved German instrument of this period built for France.


The good idea: For a nature getaway, go for a walk to Lac de Montbel, one of the most beautiful lakes in Ariège.


The medieval town of Mirepoix, an architectural jewel of Ariège
The medieval town of Mirepoix, an architectural jewel of Ariège
The medieval town of Mirepoix, an architectural jewel of Ariège
The medieval town of Mirepoix, an architectural jewel of Ariège
The medieval town of Mirepoix, an architectural jewel of Ariège

The old Cathedral of Saint Maurice of Mirepoix


Strolling through the charming little adjacent streets, our roaming leads us to discover other jewels of the historical and natural heritage of Mirepoix scattered here and there: the old episcopal palace, the holm oak (800 years old!), the bridge at 7 arches, the Malroc house, the Béal etc… An excellent tourist map is available at the Tourist Office located in one of the beautiful medieval buildings on the Place des Couverts. Just outside the pantry, note the two grain measures dating from the 17th and 18th century. The Tourist Office also organizes visits in the company of tour guides to immerse you in detail in the past of the city!


The good idea: The petrifying waterfalls of Roquefort-les-Cascades are not far away, to continue the visit with a pleasant and unusual hike.


The medieval town of Mirepoix, an architectural jewel of Ariège

Strolling through the quirky shops and boutiques that line the streets of the town center is a favorite pastime in Mirepoix. Here are some favourites:

  • Unusual: the antique shop, flea market of Serge Mielly under the covers of the Place. A journey through time !
  • Mystical: the small shop “Le Ballet de la Sorcière”. Enter the fantastic world of Witches!
  • Gourmet: the artisanal charcuterie Olivier Piotto whose house specialties are pork liver sausage, local cassoulet with beans from Castelnaudary (also called lingot) and preparations based on regional free-range duck!


The medieval town of Mirepoix, an architectural jewel of Ariège
The medieval town of Mirepoix, an architectural jewel of Ariège
The medieval town of Mirepoix, an architectural jewel of Ariège


Festivities throughout the year in Mirepoix!

  • July: The Medieval Festival celebrates an ancient tradition that lives on in the alleys of Mirepoix. Country decor, concerts, entertainment, medieval village!
  • First Sunday in July: Local history book fair in Mirepoix
  • First weekend of August: MiMa Festival, puppet arts festival
  • October: Apple Festival
  • Late October: Gastronomy Festival
  • December: Christmas entertainment


Article and photos prepared by Lesley Williamson for the Guide Toulouse Pyrénées


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