Former Cathar stronghold
A Cathar stronghold which survived four sieges by Simon de Montfort, Foix spreads out along the Ariège valley beneath the towers of its 11thC fortress. The three towers, one of which houses a small local history and crafts museum, are all that remains of a great Château where the distinguished Counts of Foix and Viscounts of Béarn once held court; the views across the valley to the snow-capped mountains are superb. Below, the Gothic Eglise de Saint-Volusien has a fortified choir with fine 15thC stalls, and the attractive Old Town streets are lined with 16th-17thC buildings.
Children particularly will enjoy a boat trip (daily Easter-Sept; Sun Oct-Easter) on Europe’s largest underground river, Labouiche, 6 km north-west of Foix. Proficient canoeists can try their luck on the gushing Arriège; or there is gentler canoeing, plus fishing and water-skiing on Lac de Labarre, just north of Foix. Canoe hire is available during the summer season.