Foix

Impregnable citadel

Foix grew in the shade of the impregnable citadel of the Counts of Fix. Its three towers keep watching over the small and winding streets of a town keeping its medieval spirit alive. Their names recall the organisation of corporations in the Middle Ages and the regrouping of craftsmen by streets or areas. In summer, the terraces become animated and festivals follow one another: jazz festival, folk music festival, the Once upon a time in Ariege lightshow, African music festival and a sausage fair in July.
In July and August it is possible to discover the town by night at the light of torches while gourmets might prefer to follow a gastronomic tour of Foix.

Castle of Foix - © ADT 09
Three previous stages
Population: 9,800
Prefecture of Ariege (09)Economy : tourism, civil services, tyres (Continental)
Specialties : dry sausage, croustade du Cousterans (pie), mounjetado (bean stew), potée ariégeoise (cabbage stew).
Sport : canoeing (under-21 world championships), US Foix (rugby union).
Celebrities : Simon de Montfort, Gaston Phoebus,  King Henry IV, Christian d’Orgeix (painter), Eric Carriere (football).

Timeline

  • 849

    A town develops around the St Volusien Abbey.
  • 1000

    Construction of the castle.
  • 1211 - 1217

    Simon of Montfort besieges Foix but fails to conquer it.
  • 1277

    Expedition by Philip the Bold. Foix finally capitulates.
  • 1290

    Reunion of the Bearn and the County of Foix.
  • 1343 - 1391

    Reign of Gaston Phoebus.
  • 1362

    Gaston Phoebus beats the Count of Armagnac in Launac.
  • 1536

    First Reformation preachings in Foix.
  • 1589

    The Count of Foix becomes King of France as Henry IV.
  • 17th century

    The castle is turned into a jail.
  • 1632

    Richelieu orders the destruction of the castle but it is not carried out.
  • 1790

    Foix becomes prefecutre of the Ariege.
  • 1930

    The Ariege department museum opens in the castle.
  • 2002

    Completion of the A66 motorway from Toulouse.
Castle of Foix - © ADT 09
Three previous stages
Population: 9,800
Prefecture of Ariege (09)Economy : tourism, civil services, tyres (Continental)
Specialties : dry sausage, croustade du Cousterans (pie), mounjetado (bean stew), potée ariégeoise (cabbage stew).
Sport : canoeing (under-21 world championships), US Foix (rugby union).
Celebrities : Simon de Montfort, Gaston Phoebus,  King Henry IV, Christian d’Orgeix (painter), Eric Carriere (football).

Foix and cycling

In 2008, when the stage finished in the prefecture town of Ariège, at the foot of the castle, Kurt-Asle Arvesen became the third Norwegian to have won a stage of the Tour, after narrowly outsprinting Switzerland’s Martin Elmiger and Italy’s Alessandro Ballan. Several years earlier, the 1984 Tour de l’Avenir was decided for the most part around Foix, initially with a breakaway into which Charly Mottet slipped. The next day, he won the stage which set off from Foix and finished in Saint-Gaudens, before he went into the lead of the general classification.
Ariege is also home to one of the largest GranFondo events in the world, Ariegeoise, and one of its itineraries goes through Foix.

Kurt-Asle Arvesen won a stage in Foix from Lannemezan in the 2008 Tour - © Presse Sports
Three previous stages
Population: 9,800
Prefecture of Ariege (09)Economy : tourism, civil services, tyres (Continental)
Specialties : dry sausage, croustade du Cousterans (pie), mounjetado (bean stew), potée ariégeoise (cabbage stew).
Sport : canoeing (under-21 world championships), US Foix (rugby union).
Celebrities : Simon de Montfort, Gaston Phoebus,  King Henry IV, Christian d’Orgeix (painter), Eric Carriere (football).

Foix

Castle of the Counts of Foix

Standing on a rocky hill, the medieval castle three towers overlook the old town and provieds a panoramic view on the Pyrenees. The invincible fortress, built in 1000, remained intact to this day.
It was the home of the coutns of Foix, some of whom were especially renowned like Gaston Phoebus, whose motto was «  touch it if you dare  ».  He was know as a great warrior, a poet and a hunter. Henry III of Navarre, the last count of Foix, became King of France as Henry IV.
Now turned into the Ariege department museum, it houses several rooms recounting the story and the consturction of the castle. The bed of Henry IV is not to be missed.

St Volusien abbatial church

The construction of the church started in 1104 when canons of St Augustine took over the abbey housing the relics of St Volusien. They built a church comprising three naves and a transept. The bulidng was destroyed during the Wars of Religion and rebuilt in the 17th century. From the medieval church, only the gate and the lower parts of the nave remain. The church also shelters an organ made by Femis in 1869 and restored in 2007.

Labouiche underground river

A fascinating boat trip takes you over four kilometres along the flow of the Labouiche, the longest navigable underground river in Europe.

Pyrene Montgailhard forges

Close to Foix, an exhibition displays the largest collection of ancient looms and mechanical tools (6,500 tools evoking 120 crafts and trades).
Inside the complex can be found a blacksmith forge, a bread oven, the stills of a distiller, a grindstone… and many more.

The Devil’s Bridge

The fortified bridge with two arches was built in the 13th century. The legend goes that its architect signed a deal with the Devil according to which he would take the first soul that walked across. The archiect made sure the first to cross the bridge was a cat.

Rebech canoeing stadium

The quality of the site and its installations make the Rebech an ideal spot for white water sports. It hosted the junior canoeind world championships in 2010.

Castle of the counts of Foix - © sesta4Forges of Pyrene - © ADT 09
Three previous stages
Population: 9,800
Prefecture of Ariege (09)Economy : tourism, civil services, tyres (Continental)
Specialties : dry sausage, croustade du Cousterans (pie), mounjetado (bean stew), potée ariégeoise (cabbage stew).
Sport : canoeing (under-21 world championships), US Foix (rugby union).
Celebrities : Simon de Montfort, Gaston Phoebus,  King Henry IV, Christian d’Orgeix (painter), Eric Carriere (football).

Gaston Phoebus

Gaston III, dubbed Phoebus because of his blond hair, is the most famous count of Foix with future King Henry IV and time has turned him into a larger than life, almost legendary character, a fierce warrior as well as a lover of the arts and lush life. He was only 12 when his father died and stayed for a while under his mother’s helm before marrying Agnes of Navarre in 1348. A brave soldier and good knight, he was the archetype of the warlord of the 14th century but was also a cunning politician, picking alliances at his convenience to preserve his people from the woes of the Hundred Years War. A close ally of King of France Philippe VI, he broke with the crown when John II supported the count of Armagnac, his arch-rival in the region. He also often acted from his own freewill like in 1358, when he gained the release of the Duchess of Normandy who was detained in Meaux. On his way back, he took advantage of the kingdom’s decay to declare war to the count of Poitiers, to atack Toulouse and conquer the Bigorre.

In 1362, he put an end to his conflict with the Count of Armagnac by beating him in battle in Launac before freeing him against a heavy ransom. The money allowed it to hold a brilliant court. In 1377, Louis of Anjou was named Governor of Languedoc and reconciled the counts of Foix and Armagnac. The situation changed again with the reign of young King Charles VI, who sided with Armagnac. After two years of war, Gaston Phoebus gave up and retired in his castle to read, hunt and write.

In 1384, he invited Charles VI in Mazeres and made sure the King was treated to the most fastuous celebrations. He died childless after killing his own son in a fit of anger and left all his belongings to the crown.

A womaniser and book lover, he wrote a hunting tratise which became a bestseller in the 15th century.

Gaston Phoebus statue in Pau - © Jibi 44
Three previous stages
Population: 9,800
Prefecture of Ariege (09)Economy : tourism, civil services, tyres (Continental)
Specialties : dry sausage, croustade du Cousterans (pie), mounjetado (bean stew), potée ariégeoise (cabbage stew).
Sport : canoeing (under-21 world championships), US Foix (rugby union).
Celebrities : Simon de Montfort, Gaston Phoebus,  King Henry IV, Christian d’Orgeix (painter), Eric Carriere (football).

Jersey wearers after the prologue

Classifications after the prologue

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