Tag Archives: Mirepoix

Visiting Southern France in Winter, Episode 148

My guest today is Christine Hegerty from Australia, and she joins me today to talk about visiting Southern France in winter. They started their trip in Nice and exited the country via the Basque Country, so they really went all the way across.

What is it like in France in the winter? Are the weather conditions good enough for touring? Aren’t most attractions closed? Christine answers all my questions and brings a lot of zest and astute observations about visiting southern France in winter.

Places Mentioned in this Episode: Nice, Toulouse, Aix-en-Provence, Marseille, Nîmes, Pont du Gard, Uzès, Montpellier, Carcassonne, Mirepoix, Forges de Pyrène, Grotte de Niaux, Foix, Camon (09), Rennes-le-Château, Carla-Bayle, Grotte du Mas d’Asil, Toulouse,  Albi and the Toulouse-Lautrec Museum, Cordes-sur-Ciel, Moissac, Bordeaux, San-Sebastian, New Caledonia.

Would you like to tour France with Annie and Elyse? Visit Addicted to France to choose an upcoming tour.

Visiting France in winter, Christine and husband

Visiting Southern France in Winter, Episode 148

Episode Highlights with Timestamps

  • [7’15] Why did you choose to come to France in the winter?
  • [8’50] What sort of weather did you encounter?
  • [10’30] Flying into Nice instead of Paris
  • [12’30] Finding accommodations where we could park a car + using a car elevator in Toulouse
  • [15′] A lovely cooking class in Nice
  • [22′] Panisse and Socca, food specialties from Nice
  • [23′] Aix-en-Provence and Marseille by Regional Bus
  • [24′] Cours Mirabeau, Les Deux Garçons, and the Christmas Market in Aix-en-Provence
  • [24’45] A day in Marseille: Musée d’Histoire de Marseille, great street for restaurants, rue Sainte, lunch at Les Echevins (best steak ever says John!),
  • [28’30] Walking tour with a volunteer greeter, meeting on Quai des Belges in Marseille, a look at the Mirror Pavilion by Foster
  • [30′] Musée Archéologique de Marseille in Le Panier
  • [31’45] Marseille City Greeters
  • [33’06] Lovely Tea House called Cup of Tea, tea shop and book shop
  • [34′] Great food in Marseille, and not just Bouillabaisse!
  • [35′] The realities of planing a trip from home vs. taking the trip: cutting things out
  • [36′] Worries about leaving luggage in the car and Annie’s recommendation about that
  • [37’48] Two nights in Nîmes and what they loved about it: les Arênes de Nîme, la Maison Carrée
  • [39′] Carré d’Art by Norman Foster in Nîmes, a great place for photography, among other things
  • [40′] Stumbling Upon a light show projected on the Maison Carrée in Nîmes. This happens a lot around Christmas, not just in Nîmes, but in other French cities too.
  • [42′] Around Christmas is busy for people, but tourist attractions are empty.
  • [43′] Pont du Gard and getting lost looking for it. Don’t set your GPS to the village called Vers-Pont-du-Gard. Set your GPS to either the attraction called Pont du Gard OR the village of Remoulins or Collias.
  • [46′] Lunch at Uzès on Place  Aux Herbes, great place to spend a couple of hours.
  • [47′] Tour Magne, Le Jardin de la Fontaine, le Temple de Diane in Nîmes
  • [48′] Montpellier, a large and charming city. Air B&B apartment that used to be a butcher’s shop for one night.
  • [50′] Musée du Vieux Montpellier, running into churches with Crêches and Santons, and
  • [50’30] More podcast listeners eating at L’Entrecôte, they should sponsor the show!
  • [52′] What’s nearby? Sète, Camargue
  • [53’30] Daylight hours are shorter in winter, fewer hours for touring.
  • [53’47] Christmas in Carcassonne, lunch at the Michelin Star at the Hôtel de la Cité, La Barbacane.
  • [57’39] Carcassonne is not busy and crowded in the winter, and certainly not on Christmas Day!
  • [58’33] The Christmas Market in Carcassonne.
  • [62′] Staying in Mirepoix for one week.
  • [65′] New Year’s Even in Mirepoix, le Réveillon de la Saint-Sylvestre with a group of all-French people who didn’t speak English! <–Funny
  • [68′] Typical New Year’s Eve celebrations in France
  • [72′] Attractions near Mirepoix: Montsegur (Cathat, hike), Les Forges de Pyrène (demonstrations of old techniques), Grotte de Niaux (painted caves), Foix (hike).
  • [78′] Most Beautiful Villages in France: Camon. Beautiful but completely empty this time of year. This is an obvious problem with visiting southern France in winter: many things are closed!
  • [80′] The Arriège is a part of France that doesn’t get a lot of tourists any time of the year, and in the middle of the winter, you have to find ways to keep busy.
  • [81′] Market Day in Mirepoix is Monday, the town comes to life. Visiting Rennes-le-Château, must read-up on the conspiracy theories. Pack a picnic!
  • [83′] Even in a remote part of France that is not very touristy, the food is quite good.
  • [84′] Visiting Carla-Bayle and the Grotte du Mas d’Asil on the way to Toulouse. Don’t go in the middle of the winter, it’s empty!
  • [86′] Toulouse is like a small little Paris, a lot of life, even in the middle of the winter.
  • [88′] Going to Albi and the Toulouse-Lautrec Museum, Cordes-sur-Ciel (Cordes is also dead in the winter!)
  • [89′] Museums in Toulouse: Natural History Museum, Musée Saint-Raymond, Basilique Saint-Sernin, Musée des Augustins, Musée des Abatoirs, Les Jacobins where Saint-Thomas Aquinas is buried.
  • [91′] Which Toulouse Cloister is nicest: Jacobins or Augustins?
  • [93′] General observation about French Museums: they are well curated.
  • [94′] Go to the big open-air food market in Toulouse (Marché du Cristal, 33 boulevard de Strasbourg), every morning.
  • [97′] WizEat in Toulouse and the Toulouse accent.
  • [100′] Stop in Moissac to visit the chruch with beautiful cloister–but the cloister was closed on a Saturday morning (again, an issue with visiting southern France in winter).
  • [102′] Bordeaux: swapping the red stone of Toulouse for the white stone of Bordeaux.
  • [104′] The shopping areas were busy in Bordeaux (probably due to sales coming up, people like to “stake-out” the stores where they want to go back on the day when sales start.
  • [104’30] Attractions in Bordeaux: Saint-André Cathedral, Flea Market near the Saint-Michel Church, Marché des Capucins (covered market).
  • [115′] Instead of walking to the Cité du Vin, they took a ferry which gave them a great perspective on the city.
  • [118′] For a great view, go up the Tour Saint-Andrée, fantastic at sunset time.
  • [118’40] Another great thing to do at dusk in Bordeaux is to go to Place de la Bourse to see the water mirror.
  • [120′] Taking the bus between Bordeaux and Saint-Sebastian. They used OuiBus and had a good experience. The bus took them through several cities between Bordeaux and Saint-Sebastian and they enjoyed seeing them briefly. Christine recommends taking the bus.
  • [126′] New Caledonia, also in France, even though it’s close to Australia.

Conclusion

Visiting southern France in winter can be a wonderful experience with a little planning and some awareness of peculiarities of rural France in winter. Christine shares some great insights, listen close if you’re planning a similar trip!

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Tour the South West of France, Episode 147

Tour the South West of France with your friends from the Join Us in France Travel Podcast. And if you’d rather do it solo, we tell you about the places you must be sure to visit because we’re nice and we like you!

If you like this episode, also listen to Episode 43 on Saint-Cirq-Lapopie and Episode 62 on Cahors, and Episode 78, a Trip Report that includes some of the same places.

Would you like to tour France with Annie and Elyse? Visit Addicted to France to choose an upcoming tour.

Places mentioned in this episode: Toulouse, Aeroscopia, Airbus, Bonrepos-Riquet, Carcassonne, Mirepoix, Albi, Cordes-sur-Ciel, Château de Saurs, Cahors, Saint-Cirq-Lapopie, Puycelsi, Penne, Bruniquel, Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val.

Tour the South West of France, Episode 147

Tour the South West of France, ornamental bicycle

Episode Highlights

      • [53”] Thank you Patreon Supporters! New installment of Lunch-Break French.
      • [1’56] Resources to Get Started in French: Duolingo App, Coffee Break French, Lawless French.
      • [2’46] Extended Show Notes will be out within a few days
      • [5’15] Related Episodes: Episode 43 on Saint-Cirq-Lapopie and Episode 62 on Cahors in the Lot
      • [6’] Annie’s Personal Update: How Easter works in France
      • [7’10] I invite you to connect with me and the Join Us in France community on Facebook.
      • [7’55] Start Annie and Elyse Conversation
      • [8’25] Tour the South West of France with Annie and Elyse!
      • [10’14] Visit Aeroscopia and Airbus
      • [10’44] The Tour will also take us to the Pierre-Paul Riquet Château (Bonrepos-Riquet)
      • [11’08] Carcassonne and Mirepoix
      • [11’39] The tour will take us to Albi
      • [12’] Cordes-sur-Ciel
      • [12’40] Wine Tasting at the Château de Saurs
      • [13’] Informal French Class
      • [14’31] Cahors and Saint-Cirq-Lapopie
      • [14’55] Why We Can Only Have 7 People
      • [16’40] Introduction to Puycelsi, Penne and Bruniquel
      • [18’36] Puycelsi
      • [22’51] La Forêt de Grésigne
      • [26’13] The War Against the Cathars, Raymond VI and Baudouin de Toulouse
      • [29’38] Glass-making in this area
      • [30’56] Small Place Yet Full of History
      • [32’27] Next Stop: the Village of Bruniquel
      • [35’34] Bruniquel and Queen Brunehilde
      • [43’40] Stop in Penne if Time Permits
      • [44’53’] Last stop of the day in Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val
      • [50’] The Hundred Foot Journey Was Shot in Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val
      • [52’15] A Day Tour of the Medieval Riches of Gorgeous Villages Near Toulouse
      • [52’43] All the details of the tour the south west of france with Annie and Elyse  are on Addicted to France

Conclusion

Thinking about going beyond Paris and seeing the rest of France? A great place to start is the South West, aka Occitanie. France is a big country and those who look outside of major attractions are rewarded with sweet, genuine experiences of France. Whether you join this tour or decide to travel solo, Puycelsi, Bruniquel, and Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val are places you need to put on your list.

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Mirepoix, Episode 81

Elyse giving a tour in Mirepoix
Elyse giving a tour in Mirepoix

Mirepoix, Medieval City

On today’s show Elyse shares with us the wonderful and unusual story of the city of Mirepoix in the Arriège department. This medieval city is full of charm but it is not as well-known as some of the others cities nearby such as Carcassonne or Foix. On the show you’ll hear about Cathars, about a dramatic flood that entirely destroyed the city in the Middle Ages, how Mirepoix rose back from the disaster from the help of a family of magnanimous conquerors, and how it is one of the places that should not be missed in the south-west.

Places Mentioned on the Show

French/Dutch Island of Saint Martin or Saint Marteen in the Caribbean. Mirepoix, Arriège.

French Tip of the Week

“J’ai une mémoire de poisson rouge” = I have a bad memory (starts at 53:42)

To Prepare for Your Visit

Medieval Gnostics: Cathar Rituals


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Mirepoix

Cathar Area

1206 Convention of Cathars in Mirepoix to find a way to defend themselves against anticipated Catholic assault on the Cathars. They were correct to think about it because the war that took the Cathars off the map started 3 years later. This war is also the one that took Carcassonne and Foix later. Simon de Montfort was at the head of this army and his first Lieutenant was Guy de Lévis and they took Mirepoix without much resistance because it was not a fortified city.

Mirepoix

Guy de Lévis Rebuilds

Guy de Lévis is gifted lordship over Mirepoix and it turns out that he is a benevolent ruler who helps develop the city. On June 22nd, 1289 a damn up-river (L’Hers-Vif) breaks and the village of Mirepoix is left. The only thing that remains is a bit of the castle that you can still see today. The village is rebuilt on the other side of the river and instead of putting the church at the center of the city (perhaps they were still a little sore about the war against the Cathars?), they put the market at the center of city life. The Lévis family has had a very positive influence over the area.

Mirepoix
Labyrinthe inside the Cathedral in Mirepoix

The Black Prince Destroys Mirepoix

Mirepoix is the victim of the Black Prince from England and this latest disaster convinces the inhabitants to build stone walls around the city. These came much later than most fortifications, with four gates and trenches all around. You can still see two of those gates in Mirepoix today.

MirepoixSeeing Mirepoix Today

Elyse gives recommendations on what you should see in Mirepoix today and discusses the hotels and events in the city. And of course we encourage you to take a proper tour with Elyse, you’ll love it! We end on a small rant on how a small town such as Mirepoix still has two great bookstores while Annie couldn’t find more than one book store left in Philadelphia!

Mirepoix