Four previous stages
Prefecture of Ariège (09)
Population: 10,050, 32,000 s in the 42 municipalities of Pays Foix-Varilhes.
Personalities: Gaston Fébus (14th century, Count of Foix), Jean-Pierre Bel (former President of the Senate), Fabien Barthez (football world champion in 1998), Jean-Marc Doussain and Fabrice Estebanez, Fabien Pelous (rugby), Chloé Morteau (Miss France in 2009)
Specialties: liver sausage (pork), azinat (stuffed cabbage), mounjetado (enriched cassoulet), duck, Tomme des Pyrénées, flakes of Ariège (confectionery), bethmale (cheese)
Sport: 46 sports clubs for 3,655 members. US Fuxéenne (rugby). White water stadium, velodrome, dojo, aquatic area.
Economy: administrative city, 4 economic activity zones plus the city center. University Center: Higher Institute of Tourism of Hotels and Food, Higher School of Teaching and Education. Tourism (nearly 90 000 visitors / year).
Festivals: Foix'R de Rue Festival (June), International Resistance Film Festival (July), Trad'Estiu (July, Occitan folklore), Foix Jazz (July), Foix Land of History (August, sound and lights), Ingenious Africa Festival (August), Foix Festival with fireworks shot from the castle (September).
Label: 7 Great Sites of Midi-Pyrénées in Ariège including the Château de Foix
A completely renovated castle
The department of Ariège, owner of the castle of Foix, a listed historical monument since 1840, undertook the rehabilitation of the site for an unprecedented amount of 7.5 million euros. The goal is to attract 100,000 visitors a year who will spend three hours or more in Foix. In order to breathe in new life to the castle, the company in charge of the renovation took over the development of the historical site and the creation of a museum as well as the preservation of the castle.
The development of the site and the creation of the museum require a major renovation of the building, the demolition of 80% of the floors and their replacement by concrete structures. Since December 2018, all floors have been replaced and since the beginning of 2019, the polishing of the exterior facades has begun.
The restoration also includes the consolidation of retaining walls, the replacement of the stone staircase in the square tower and important repairs in the round tower. Part of the masonry began in the spring of 2019.
Due to the location and the complicated access to the site, equipment and material is flown onto the castle by helicopter.
The last visit of the Tour de France to Foix was marked by the victory of Warren Barguil in a short stage in Ariège from Saint-Girons, handing the Breton valuable points in his quest of the polka-dot jersey. This first stage win of "Wawa" in the Tour was all the more convincing as the French had outwitted a prestigious trio composed of Alberto Contador, Mikel Landa and Nairo Quintana.
In 2008, Kurt-Asle Arvesen, at the start of the Ariège prefecture, became the third Norwegian winner of a Tour stage, after a sprint narrowly won ahead of Martin Elmiger and Italian Alessandro Ballan. In 2012, Luis Leon Sanchez confirmed his taste for Ariège's roads. The Spanish rider won in both Saint-Girons in 2009 and Foix in 2012.
A few years earlier, the 1984 Tour de l'Avenir was largely decided around Foix, with a breakaway involving Charly Mottet. The next day, the Frenchman won the stage from Foix to Saint-Gaudens before taking the lead in the overall standings.
Castle of the Counts of Foix
Standing on a rocky hill, the medieval castle three towers overlook the old town and provide a panoramic view on the Pyrenees. The invincible fortress, built in 1000, remained intact to this day. It was the home of the counts of Foix, some of whom were especially renowned like Gaston Phoebus, whose motto was « touch it if you dare ». He was known 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 construction of the castle. The bed of Henry IV is not to be missed.
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 architect 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 canoeing world championships in 2010.
Azinat was the basic dish of the Ariège peasants, Tarascon, Massat, Siguer or elsewhere, each village having its way of preparing it. There are two kinds of azinat, the "poor", rather similar to the garbure and the "rich", which is a real festive dish because it is garnished with "rouzole", a stuffing prepared with raw sausage and country ham.
For 10 people: 2 big green cabbage 10 carrots 8 potatoes 3 pork shanks 8 confits of duck legs 3 sausages of rind 1 rouzole (stuffing) of about 500 g well fried in the pan
First blanch the whole cabbage. Then put them with the carrots in the pot in cold water with ham bone, pork shanks and rind sausages. Season with salt and pepper and cook very slowly, about two hours. Then add the rouzole, the potatoes and the duck confit. Cook another hour slowly. Broth is used to make a grated soup by pouring it on country bread and sprinkling it with grated cheese. Meat, vegetables and rouzole are then used as a complete dish.