This is the start of all fairy tales in France, but also the beginning of a little grammatical test. There are several words in French that sound the same, but are spelt differently and with different meanings. I believe these used to be called homonyms, but are now called homophones.
One of these homophones is “Foix.” A proper noun though, this one, pertaining to a small town in the departement 09, in France, The Ariege. It sits slightly to the south east of Toulouse, not too far from both Spain and Andorra, with a population of around 10,000 people.
A small town, full of charm and character, based in the foothills of the Pyrenees with some spectacular views once you drive no more than 20 minutes out of the town, as well as great views back across the town from up on the hill.
It has a great bakery (got through to the last 8 in the annual French bakery off a couple of years ago) a few good bars, a great market and also holds a couple of very dear memories for me. A good friend lives there and so I’ve had a good few nights out, and also, one of my hero’s, Sir Bradley Wiggins, on the day Le Tour finished in Foix, slowed the peleton down when he realised that some moron had thrown tacks all over the road causing loads of punctures, a gesture that earned him the nickname “Le Gentleman” in the French press.
There is though one other thing that makes the visit worthwhile.
The wonderful Chateau thats overlooked the town for over 1000 years. Its served as a Royal Palace, a refuge for persecuted Cathars, a garrison and nowadays a tourist attraction. Only thanks to its excellent position is it still there, surviving the destruction ordered by the Duc de Richelieu in the early 1600’s.
Since 1930 its been used as a museum, housing collections from the Ariege and up in one of the towers is an actual Royal Bed (shame on me, I can’t remember who slept here.)
Should you ever find yourself down in the south west of France, a trip here wouldn’t be a wasted day.