The warm sunny days and the fêtes and festivals have continued well into October. Each weekend there is a town or village nearby with an interesting event.
We know Foix pretty well but the Journées Médievales at the Château de Foix was a good time for our first visit inside the castle.
This event focused on the moment, in the 14th century, when Gaston Fébus chose to celebrate, at the Château de Foix, after his great victory on the battlefield of Launac.
He assembled, at the castle, his garrison, the soldiers and heroes from Launac, as well as the numerous defeated Lords, with the intention of flaunting his power.
We ate lunch early in the town and arrived at the castle around 1.15pm, just as all the medieval players and participants took a break for lunch. Surprisingly I saw no facilities for visitors to get food or drink within the grounds of the castle, even at this kind of weekend event, so I was glad we were well fed and watered beforehand.
There were minstrels to entertain us.
We could try archery and learn about the advantages or disadvantages of the flexible upright bow compared to the cross-bow.
Children were taught how to hammer and form nails, and how to chisel and dress stone. “Health and safety” were nowhere to be seen as chips of stone flew past unprotected eyes and young kids wealded heavy hammers without a care.
Inside the castle was a permanent museum chronicling the history of the Château.
A tournament was held for the proud warriors in honour of the Count. Noblemen gambled on the outcome of some fierce fighting between captured knights which gave a clear sense of action in the heat of the battle. These actors didn’t pull their punches; the sound of steel on steel rang out as sword or axe met armour and helmet.
When the fight didn’t result in the death of the combatants, the crowd was asked if they should be allowed to live or die. One cheeky young lad in the audience even offered to perform the executions.
The participants knew their subjects very well and their costumes and equipment were excellent. I wish I’d asked someone whether this same group enact similar events throughout France or if they are local to Foix.
I was looking forward to the Fêtes de la Pomme at Mirepoix as I’d enjoyed it some years ago with my sister-in-law despite pouring rain all day. This year the forecast was good but the sculptures of apples around the town were slightly disappointing compared to previous years and we saw fewer visitors than I’d expected, nevertheless, it was well worth the journey.
This year’s theme was “Witches”, which suited the proprietor of this ornament boutique perfectly.
Bags of apples, bottles of jus de pommes, toffee apples, apple pastries and cakes were all on sale. And, although we missed it, there was even a quidditch tournament.