L’Escapade: Episode 16

Mirepoix is my favourite bastide town of the Ariège. It was rebuilt in the 13th century after a flood. And it’s 14th century fortified gate still remains. The magnificent market square is surrounded by half-timbered houses whose first floors jut out 5 or 6 meters creating a shaded arcade below, for the many boutiques and cafés. The Maison des Consuls even has medieval carvings on the ends of each wooden beam.

A number of Fêtes take place each year but even at the regular Monday market there is a lovely atmosphere. This bank-holiday weekend was the Fête de Brocante, an antique market. Fortunately it remained dry for us but as most stalls were undercover the threat of rain was not really a worry.

After strolling round for and hour or so we chose the Café des Castignolles for our lunch. Looking up I was stunned by the old mural map painted on the ceiling. John however was more fascinated by the strange old man with the lapdog called Fifi.

He said, “If you have to have a dog like that, you certainly don’t HAVE to call it Fifi, for goodness sake!”

When I looked round and saw who he was talking about, I pointed out, “Well the old man is wearing full camouflage gear so he’s doing his best to be incognito”.

It was a perfect place for people watching. A lot of English voices can be heard in Mirepoix and I found myself trying to decide, by appearance alone, if the passers-by were French or English.

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After lunch we drove a couple of miles north of Mirepoix to visit an Open Garden in aid of Charity at the home of Judy, a friend of Pam. Judy has lived in the tiny hamlet on top of a steep hillside, with magnificent views, for over 20 years. She has created her “dry” garden from scratch. An incredible task when you see the incline she has had to deal with. I only wish the sun had been shining and the sky clearer for my photographs. But please take a few moments to enjoy a virtual tour round this lovely garden by watching the slideshow below.

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