Situated in the heart of Southern France’s Cathar Country in the Ariege region, Mirepoix is a late 13th century Bastide, or fortress town, stunningly preserved. In the center, half timbered houses painted in pastels surround the central square, with their upper stories forming an arcade (Les Couverts) over the shops and walkway.
Mirepoix and its environs were part of the Cathar movement, and it is believed that the town housed as many as fifty of the Cathar Parfaits, leaders of the religious movement, which was ruthlessly persecuted.
Under the ceiling of the Council House (Maison des Consuls) are a fascinating series of carved heads, both animal and human, which were once painted in vibrant hues.
The town also hosts an open air market on Mondays and Thursdays, where everything from haricots to used clothing can be purchased. Part of the market is housed under a timber and iron canopy.
Mirepoix is also home to Cathedrale Saint-Maurice, which has the widest unsupported nave in France. It also owns a medieval labyrinth, on glazed stone tiles, but alas, it it no longer on view. Quel dommage!