Painting in the Midi-Pyrenees – The Cathar Castles.
We have been to a number of Cathar Castle sites since the beginning of May. This has included the Montsegur, Puivert, Roquefixade, Foix,and Puilaurens. Montsegur requires the most effort to climb but provides a 360 view of the surrounding area, including a view of Roquefixade to the northwest. Roquefixade is the only castle that does not charge an entrance fee, however, it is mostly in ruin and entry to the part still standing is forbidden due to safety reasons. Views from these castles as well as the ruins themselves are potential subjects for painting. Puilaurens offers dramatic views of the surrounding mountains and villages below. The castle itself is preserved in that the outer wall remains largely intact. The donjon remains are quite intact but without a roof. Several rooms and a water cistern are available for exploration. The castle at Foix is well preserved and worth a visit. Be warned that the two towers can be climbed via narrow winding stone staircases that are lit by arrow slits. The towers have chambers leading off of the staircase as you ascend that provide information about the castle and the Counts that ruled the area and Henry IV who also ruled this area for a period of time.