Tourist attractions

Saint-Girons / Foix

Foix

Foix

The two stage finishes of the Tour judged in Foix rewarded audacious riders who made the best of breakaways. It was the case back in 2008 for Norwegian Kurt Asle Arvesen who had managed to outpace his two last rivals on the road, Italian Alessandro Ballan and Swiss Martin Elmiger after a final intense explanation. But the stage of the day will also remind good memories to Luis Leon Sanchez.
Indeed, the Spanish rider both won in Saint-Girons in 2009 and Foix in 2012.

Château, Foix © Thinkstock

4 previous stages
Prefecture of Ariege (09)

Population: 10,350 hab.

Specialities: sausage (pork), azinat (stuffed cabbage), la mounjetado (cassoulet), dick, Tomme of the Pyrenees (cheese)

Celebrities: Gaston Phoebus (14th century Count of Foix), Jean-Pierre Bel (former Senate speaker), Fabien Barthez (football), Jean-Marc Doussain, Fabrice Estebanez, Fabien Pelous (rugby union), Chloe Morteau (Miss France 2009)

Sport: 46 clubs pour 3,655 members. US Foix (rugby union), canoeing stadium, velodrome, dojo, swimming pool.

Economy: public services, 4 business areas. Universities: Tourism and catering institute, Teachers school

Heritage: château of the counts of Foix (12th and 14th centuries, housing the Ariege department museum), Saint-Volusien abbatial church (12th to 17th centuries), Notre-Dame de Montgauzy chapel (17th century), market hall, Villote alleys, Forges of Pyrene in Montgailhard.

Festivals: International film festival on Résistance, Trad'Estiu (folkore), Jazz in Foix, Foix land of history (sound and light show), Night of the horse, Fêtes de Foix with firesworks shot from the castle.

Sustainable development: new station, bus network, 4 reloading stations for electrical vehicles, cycling tracks, no-pesticide policy.

Label: 7 Grand Sites of Midi-Pyrénées in Ariège including château de Foix

Web sites

Foix and cycling

In 2008, when the stage finished in the prefecture town of Ariège, at the foot of the castle, Kurt-Asle Arvesen became the third Norwegian to have won a stage of the Tour, after narrowly outsprinting Switzerland's Martin Elmiger and Italy's Alessandro Ballan. But the day's stage will above all revive fine memories for Luis Leon Sanchez, who won stages both in St Grions (in 2009) and in Foix (in 2012) Several years earlier, the 1984 Tour de l'Avenir was decided for the most part around Foix, initially with a breakaway into which Charly Mottet slipped. The next day, he won the stage which set off from Foix and finished in Saint-Gaudens, before he went into the lead of the general classification. Ariege is also home to one of the largest GranFondo events in the world, Ariegeoise, and one of its itineraries goes through Foix. 

Tour de France 2008, étape 11 Lannemezan - Foix: Kurt Asle Arvesen - Martin Elmiger - Alessandro Ballan © Presse Sports / Yuzura Sunada

4 previous stages
Prefecture of Ariege (09)

Population: 10,350 hab.

Specialities: sausage (pork), azinat (stuffed cabbage), la mounjetado (cassoulet), dick, Tomme of the Pyrenees (cheese)

Celebrities: Gaston Phoebus (14th century Count of Foix), Jean-Pierre Bel (former Senate speaker), Fabien Barthez (football), Jean-Marc Doussain, Fabrice Estebanez, Fabien Pelous (rugby union), Chloe Morteau (Miss France 2009)

Sport: 46 clubs pour 3,655 members. US Foix (rugby union), canoeing stadium, velodrome, dojo, swimming pool.

Economy: public services, 4 business areas. Universities: Tourism and catering institute, Teachers school

Heritage: château of the counts of Foix (12th and 14th centuries, housing the Ariege department museum), Saint-Volusien abbatial church (12th to 17th centuries), Notre-Dame de Montgauzy chapel (17th century), market hall, Villote alleys, Forges of Pyrene in Montgailhard.

Festivals: International film festival on Résistance, Trad'Estiu (folkore), Jazz in Foix, Foix land of history (sound and light show), Night of the horse, Fêtes de Foix with firesworks shot from the castle.

Sustainable development: new station, bus network, 4 reloading stations for electrical vehicles, cycling tracks, no-pesticide policy.

Label: 7 Grand Sites of Midi-Pyrénées in Ariège including château de Foix

Web sites

Sights

Castle of the Counts of Foix
Standing on a rocky hill, the medieval castle three towers overlook the old town and provide a panoramic view on the Pyrenees. The invincible fortress, built in 1000, remained intact to this day. It was the home of the counts of Foix, some of whom were especially renowned like Gaston Phoebus, whose motto was « touch it if you dare ».  He was known as a great warrior, a poet and a hunter. Henry III of Navarre, the last count of Foix, became King of France as Henry IV.  Now turned into the Ariege department museum, it houses several rooms recounting the story and the construction of the castle. The bed of Henry IV is not to be missed.
www.sites-touristiques-ariege.fr/sites-touristiques-ariege/chateau-de-foix

St Volusien abbatial church
The construction of the church started in 1104 when canons of St Augustine took over the abbey housing the relics of St Volusien. They built a church comprising three naves and a transept. The building was destroyed during the Wars of Religion and rebuilt in the 17th century. From the medieval church, only the gate and the lower parts of the nave remain. The church also shelters an organ made by Femis in 1869 and restored in 2007.
www.ariegepyrenees.com/foix/eglise-saint-volusien-a-foix

Labouiche underground river
A fascinating boat trip takes you over four kilometres along the flow of the Labouiche, the longest navigable underground river in Europe.
www.labouiche.com

Pyrene Montgailhard forges
Close to Foix, an exhibition displays the largest collection of ancient looms and mechanical tools (6,500 tools evoking 120 crafts and trades).
Inside the complex can be found a blacksmith forge, a bread oven, the stills of a distiller, a grindstone… and many more.
www.forges-de-pyrene.com

The Devil's Bridge
The fortified bridge with two arches was built in the 13th century. The legend goes that its architect signed a deal with the Devil according to which he would take the first soul that walked across. The architect made sure the first to cross the bridge was a cat.

Rebech canoeing stadium
The quality of the site and its installations make the Rebech an ideal spot for white water sports. It hosted the junior canoeing world championships in 2010

Château des comtes de Foix - Vue de la ville du château © Patrice ThebaultEglise Saint-Volusien de Foix © Elliesram13Vue du Pont du Diable © Florent Pécassou

4 previous stages
Prefecture of Ariege (09)

Population: 10,350 hab.

Specialities: sausage (pork), azinat (stuffed cabbage), la mounjetado (cassoulet), dick, Tomme of the Pyrenees (cheese)

Celebrities: Gaston Phoebus (14th century Count of Foix), Jean-Pierre Bel (former Senate speaker), Fabien Barthez (football), Jean-Marc Doussain, Fabrice Estebanez, Fabien Pelous (rugby union), Chloe Morteau (Miss France 2009)

Sport: 46 clubs pour 3,655 members. US Foix (rugby union), canoeing stadium, velodrome, dojo, swimming pool.

Economy: public services, 4 business areas. Universities: Tourism and catering institute, Teachers school

Heritage: château of the counts of Foix (12th and 14th centuries, housing the Ariege department museum), Saint-Volusien abbatial church (12th to 17th centuries), Notre-Dame de Montgauzy chapel (17th century), market hall, Villote alleys, Forges of Pyrene in Montgailhard.

Festivals: International film festival on Résistance, Trad'Estiu (folkore), Jazz in Foix, Foix land of history (sound and light show), Night of the horse, Fêtes de Foix with firesworks shot from the castle.

Sustainable development: new station, bus network, 4 reloading stations for electrical vehicles, cycling tracks, no-pesticide policy.

Label: 7 Grand Sites of Midi-Pyrénées in Ariège including château de Foix

Web sites

Pechs de Foix

© Parc naturel régional des Pyrénées Ariégeoises© Raphaël Kann© Raphaël Kann© Raphaël Kann© J.Touroult

In Foix, the race ends near the Pechs de Foix, Soula and Roquefixade, Grotte de l'Herm Natura 2000 site. This site of nearly 2,200 ha is characterised by limestone cliffs, which are typical markers of the Ariège landscape. The diversity of the natural environments and their associated flora and fauna make this site a remarkable place in terms of biodiversity.

Read more : www.afbiodiversite.fr/fr/stage-13-saint-girons-foix 

Pyrénées regional natural Park of the « L'Ariégeoise »

The Natural Park of the Pyrenees Ariegeoises is a major terrain for cyclists, with its mountain passes or "Cols"; the Col du Portet d'Aspet and Col de la Core, and the "Ariegeoise" cycling event. There is something for all tastes, all ambitions. For a gentle outing or for a longer journey the "Voie Verte" or Green Route which runs through the foothills for 40 KM from St Girons to Foix provides wonderful panoramic views of the Pyrenees.

As a leader in alternative energy use, the Park also offers electric bicycles for active mobility around the area.

Web site : www.parc-pyrenees-ariegeoises.fr

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