The magnificent medieval walled city of Carcassonne is only 30 minutes drive away. The old city, and its 'medieval' fortress is one of the architectural marvels of Europe. It is reputedly the inspiration for Walt Disney’s The Sleeping Beauty.
The site has always occupied a strategic position at the foot of the Black Mountains and castle has had many incarnations. It is a fortress within a fortress, a gigantic rectangular construction surrounded by a moat and further protected by a semi-circular barbican.
The attached museum is also fascinating, with ancient carved stone columns, corbels, elaborate friezes, sacophi, Roman sonmilestones and collections of remains of the town.
The city dates back to the Middle Ages and features typically French bars, shops, cafés and restaurants, the perfect antidote to the fortress.
The St Maurice Cathedral, in the heart of the old town, dates from the 14th - 16th centuries.
Inside, I found it to be a rather more spectacularly coloured example than usual, as you can see by photo 3 of the column to one side of the stained glass window. The windows were also rather nice.
This local magnificent market is held every Monday morning throughout the year.
Sometimes musicians play their musci around the square. A lively atmosphere.
What to buy: As well as fresh home grown and organic produce you can buy , clothing, shoes, wine, trinkets, live chickens! freshly made bread and cakes, local honey, wine, artisans ware, local food specialties stalls, antiques, in fact just about anything.
This must be one of the most charming medieval town squares or 'place' in France. There are many cafe bars & small resturants selling plat du jour from 8 euros, bookshops (in English & French) giftshops, and many small private shops.
Weekly (Monday) market selling everything from farm produce, boullabaise, seafood, honey, local wines, live chickens, fruit & vegetables, to clothes, jewlery, household items and antiques.
Fondest memory: The locals are friendly, the food is wonderful and the location is in a stunning part of the Pyrenees. Plus the area around Mirepoix is crammed with historic trails, old churches with frescos, and Cathar castles .
Favorite thing: One thing I really loved about Mirepoix were all the colourful, decorative iron shop signs in the streets directly around the Brocante market. I didn't find any other town around France (apart from perhaps Colmar in Alsace) which had signs this decorative.