Foix, a hidden gem in the French Pyrenees

Lizet Wesselman - 26/12/2023

Foix, a hidden gem in the French Pyrenees

Lizet Wesselman - 26/12/2023

South of Toulouse, France, a (railway) road runs right through the Ariége region of the Pyrenees. This route takes you past a number of cute mountain villages, all with their own charm. One such village in Foix, the region’s capital. With less than 10,000 inhabitants, you’ll find a wonderfully local atmosphere here, but more than enough to do. From the impressive mountains surrounding the village, to the castle in the middle of the village and a lot of conviviality.

Historic castle of Foix

Foix’s castle is the highlight of the village. In fact, Foix is built entirely around it, so you still have to walk around the protruding rock of the mountain in some streets. On top of that mountain is the castle, which of course towers high above all other buildings. A masterpiece dating back to the Middle Ages, the Château de Foix has played a central role in the region’s history over the centuries. Being close to the border with Spain and Andorra, Foix was one of the first fortified places to encounter enemies from the south.

Today, of course, it is a popular tourist attraction and museum. You can enter here in 2024 for €12.50 per adult, and enjoy stunning panoramic views of the Pyrenees on the castle walls.

The charm of the historic centre

But the rest of the village also has a lot to offer, including cute little streets with cosy squares and historic buildings. The Gothic cathedral of Saint-Volusien, another highlight of Foix’s architecture, offers not only breathtaking views but also a fascinating dip into the region’s religious history.

Although the village is found by tourists, it does not overflow. With some 90,000 visitors each year, you’ll find mostly everyday life in the French Pyrenees. With a Saturday market and a festival almost every weekend in summer. The festivals in the region are quite a happening and locals travel from village to village to attend them all. Are you in the region in summer? Then you are sure to be able to enjoy traditional music and local delicacies during one of these festivals.

Outdoor activities Foix

Being in the middle of the Pyrenees, Foix obviously offers numerous options for hikers, mountaineers and winter sports enthusiasts. The village is at 400m altitude and there are opportunities in the area for simple walks and hefty hikes and even canyoning. Besides beautiful views of the Pyrenees, the area has a wide selection of lakes and rivers where you can also go rafting, for example.

Local food

France and food go well together and almost every region has its own specialities. In Foix, you will find many local specialities in a storable form, such as dried sausages. This is because, until fairly recently, most people in this region were very poor. Most kept pigs and ducks themselves, of which as much as possible was eaten. To ensure that they had enough to eat throughout the year, the meat was often dried or prepared in other ways so that it would keep for months.

Want to take something tasty home? In this region, you will find plenty of goodies that will survive the trip home. Nowadays, you can buy these mainly at local markets, which are also very cosy. Organic farming is increasingly common in this region, so you take home a sustainable souvenir and support the locals.

Prefer eating local food in a restaurant? Then find out more about local delicacies here.

Train to Foix

Want to visit Foix, and would you prefer to take a train journey there? You can. This lovely village is part of my Southern France train trip. This itinerary also takes you even further into the Pyrenees, and along the coast and cosy Carcassonne back to Toulouse.