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Mady de la Giraudière, a Lavelanet local, has been painting renowned naïve art works for 50 years now. Anatole Jakovsky, a specialized art critic, once wrote, “In most of her paintings, you can hear the bells ringing and smell the thyme, lavender and laurel. And the sun, that wholesome Midi sun, never, so to speak, sets.”
“The weather here is very pleasant. The winters are dry and, in the summer, the nights are invariably cool in spite of the odd heat waves. Even insomniacs sleep well here. I love Lavelanet. I love strolling around the “Parc de la Mairie” or the churches, especially as a there are a few of my paintings there. I did a Via Crucis and seven paintings depicting the life of Christ for church of “Notre Dame de l’Assomption”.
The nearby attractions I recommend are the castles in Foix and Pamiers, and the medieval town of Mirepoix. The fir-tree forest of Bélesta is only 5 or 6 kilometres from Lavelanet, and is the perfect place if you want to enjoy a quiet time out. The lined-up houses espousing the slope of Montségur, a hillside village, and its renowned Cathar castle make the village unique. I find the people in Lavelanet enterprising. They are constantly struggling to maintain employment there despite the crisis in the textile industry, by discovering new fibres. I also know the town’s most famous person, Fabien Barthez, the football player. As luck would have it, before the World Cup, I was asked for a football-related painting for an exhibition that never took place. I must have had a premonitory dream: I painted France playing against Brazil – and beating them 3-1.”