Visiting Foix, France: with its Medieval castle of the Co-Princes of Andorra
Refracted sovereignties and living, Medieval history
In the foothills of the Pyrenees, the town of Foix is built around its Medieval castle. Historically, the Counts of Foix were noted as Co-Princes of Andorra, sharing this role with the Bishop of Urgel, over the Spanish border.
But this basic arrangement, in existence since the Middle Ages, continues to function to this day, with the role of the count of Foix, in his capacity of Co-Prince of Andorra, being fulfilled by the sitting President of France. In the national arms of the Principality of Andorra the colours of Foix continue to be shown.
The castle at Foix, partly dating from 987, was one of the Medieval centres of the Cathar movement. Its round tower dates from the 15th century. The castle was beseiged several times but usually proved impregnable.
Other features of the town
Another building of distinction in Foix is the Abbey of Saint-Volusien, built at various stages between the 12th and 17th centuries; among its features is a very large 19th organ, recently restored.
The Ariège River , which rises on the borders of Andorra in the nearby Pyrenees, flows through the town; the French department of which Foix is the capital is named for this river.
Notable people from Foix include Charles de Freycinet (1828-1923), who served four times as French Prime Minister in the 19th century.
An abiding impression which I have retained of Foix is of the cool and pure mountain air setting the context of the dominant Medieval castle of Foix, with fine views of the Pyrenees.
Also worth seeing
Pas-de-la-Case , Andorra, (distance: 72 kilometres) is accessible from Foix, but please note that adverse weather can regularly affect road conditions and there are frequent delays at the Franco-Andorran border.
Toulouse , France, (distance: 86 kilometres), is a large city with many historical and cultural treasures, which serves as a regional centre for the south-west of France.
How to get there: United Airlines flies from New York Newark to Paris (Aéroport Paris-Charles de Gaulle ) (Paris-Foix road distance: 764 kilometres), from where there are also air links to Toulouse. The French railroad company SNCF maintains services from Paris to Foix. For North American travellers making the London, England area their touring base, Ryanair flies from London Stansted Airport to Carcassone (Aéroport de Carcassonne ), from where car rental is available. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information. Please refer to appropriate consular sources for any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities.
MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.
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