"Mirepoix and it's carved heads." Mirepoix by TygerLyn
Mirepoix Travel Guide: 5 reviews and 22 photos
Mirepoix is in the Ariege department of the Midi-Pyrenees near the border with the Languedoc-Roussillon and between Carcassonne and Foix.
The highlight of this ancient bastide town is the central square - the Place des Couverts - surrounded by medieval houses and arcades. The 'Maison des consuls' is the principal attraction among these buildings. The many carved figures that feature among the ancient woodwork are a marvel. I tried to count them!
Luckily, the good folk of Mirepoix have kept their heads - in both senses. Unlike other once pretty towns (Basingstoke and Euskirchen spring to mind) they have not pulled down these fantastic medieaval buildings and replaced with glass shop fronts and so the fantastic carvings of heads have survived.
We of the 20th and 21st centuries think that we invented travelling but not so. Mirepoix was once on the border of France and Spain and hence the accent can have the Catalan twang. The heads, beautifully and descriptively carved, depict people from many countries. Many are charactures, they peer out from underneath the buildings surrounding the square. Moors, Arabs, Negroes, Jews, Egyptians, Caucasians, Asians, South Americans, North America Indians, washerwomen, simpletons, afflicted, children, elderly, animals, birds, it is all there along with some grotesque gargoyles.
There is a wrought iron market hall in the centre and a cathedral (Saint Maurice).
There is a fair every year during July, plays, marionettes, music etc
Mirepoix, with their Spanish and Morrocan connections, tend to make their cassoleut much spicier. Instead of the sturdy herby Toulasain sausage they will often use merguez and duck or goose instead of chicken. There is always big chunks of belly pork though, the basis for any good cassoluet. As merguez is much hotter and contains lots of pepper and tomato puree they do not put much tomato in the pot, leaving the merguez to pep up the haricot beans.
I have to say that this was one of my favourite lunches, late September, day, bright if slightly cool, and we sat under the grinning heads in the square and tucked in with a pichot of red wine and Bob had a platter of toasted baquette with cheese on top. Our cassoleut that day had duck, belly pork, merguez, toulouse sausage and chicken legs. Yummy.
A friend of mine who was visiting us in Le Vivier bought me the scrumptious book "Languedoc" by Charlie Waite. If you are not familiar with the work of Charlie Waite get into your local library now, this man is a photographer par excellence! I have never bothered to take photos of Mirepoix as I know I cannot match up to Charlie Waite. Sadly the 6 books in the series are now out of print (not that I am complaining - I have a 1st edition thanks to Aussie Annie) but it is possibly to acquire them through various booksellers on line.
- Pros:Marvellous place, almost untouched since the 16 century
- Cons:Didn't find any
- In a nutshell:Just beautiful, take a good camera and loads of film/pixels
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