Mirepoix, in the eastern Pyrenees, not far from the Aude river valley, is a late 13th century bastide and has a beautiful 15th century arcaded market square as well as a more modern market hall under cover, near to the cathedral, dedicated to St Maurice. The town, with only about 3,000 inhabitants, is at the heart of the former Cathar country in the Ariége country. The town has a number of half timbered houses as well as the modern comforts necessary fro 21st century living.
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The town is about 50 minutes from Toulouse with its major transport links including an airport. It is 40 minutes from Carcassone, which has both rail links and an airport with cheap flights from the U.K.
For sports there is archery, as well as walking, climbing and water sports. Go-karting is also available nearby. There is a Medieval Festival with parades depicting historical events and characters and a Puppet Festival. The Chemin de Croix trail leads on to a succession of tiny and ancient chapels and the tourist office will be able to supply a list of routes for walkers and bikers. There is a general market on Mondays and a really good farmer’s market on Thursdays where you can stock up for the weekend on organic fare, from herbs to meat. Mirepoix also has an Arts Hall displaying work by local craftsmen and artists. The Maison de Consul has hundreds of carved portraits in its rafters of people, animals and monsters.
Food and Drink
The town of course gave its name to a mixture of onions, celery and carrots, though the word now tends to be used for any mixture of small cubed vegetables or those with peas and sweet corn included. Another version includes the addition of ham or bacon, the whole then sautéed in butter. You could of course buy all these ingredients in the very good local market to make your own – or just order a dish in a local restaurant. Tripe also appears on local menus in several dishes.
Les Minotiers Hôtel – Restaurant, Avenue Maréchal Foch, 09500 Mirepoix,
Tel no: 33 5 61 69 37 36, 16 € euros.
Restaurant L’Ciel d’Or. 8, Rue Maréchal Clauzel, Mirepoix 09500,
Tel no: 05 61 60 19 19, 15€
You will need to stay in the area for a little while if this is to be a serious property hunt. Decide, if you can how far you want to extend the search, what your budget is going to be – allowing of course for such things as notary and moving expenses. You will have to make any number of decisions – how many bedrooms, bathrooms etc. Do you want a property to rent out, as a holiday home, or to live in full time? Do you prefer to be near shops and other activity? Do you need to be near a school or place of work? Do you prefer a very modern house you could move right in to or something on which you can make a mark by renovating as you want? How much land can you reasonably cope with – this is especially important if you are only going to visit occasionally.
Sextant properties can link you with a French local agent who can then discuss your requirements with you and sort out some possible viewings. The agent will be able to not only arrange viewings, but can accompany you, and answer your questions. There are lots of beautiful properties in amazing locations – it is just a matter of which one.