Saturday, May 18, 2013

May 17 Not seeing the cave paintings at Niaux, a visit to Foix and dinner in Mirepoix

Once we climbed down from Montsegur and returned to the car we headed off in search of lunch.

As we drove through the nearby village of Lavelanet we saw a roadside eatery that seemed just about right: "A Table." A curious place, it was open every day but just for lunch and serving just a simple formule. I had the local ham for starter and the cod in a light chive cream sauce with couscous and frites.

After lunch we went in search of the prehistoric cave paintings at Niaux. From the valley floor we climbed up a very narrow, twisty narrow road until we reached the entrance of the cave, an impressive structure but with a less-than impressive staff managing the operation.

The sign on the door said the next tour would be a 1600 and since we arrived a about 1545 we thought perfect, we would wait along with a few others of like mind. When the tour guide finally arrived bringing out the previous group -- there was no one in the shop itself which had remained locked -- he informed us that the 1600 tour was booked by a group of Americans -- as it turned out a large, elderly group brought in by bus. Why hadn't he put the sign up to state as much in the first place we wondered?

We got back int he car and then rushed off to the cave at Bedeilac but the last tour for the day had already left. So Richard drove us to nearby Foix where we parked the car at the nearby castle (Cathar) right in the heart of the town and then strolled the castle grounds.

Naturally, our visit was followed up by a stop for an aperitif at Cafe Gros which had an incredible interior: it was all done up like an old British or Irish pub with incredible detail throughout. The service was a bit off but it was worth the stop nonetheless.

From Foix we went off in search of dinner and thought we would try the town of Mirepoix. It was dead quiet as we strolled through the main square, an interesting place of arcades and curious architecture, worth a stop here as well.

For dinner we at at La Flambee, right off the main square, noted, so they claimed for their Norman specialities. (Norman who I wondered?) The service was interesting -- a young man just beginning his first day on the job.  The food proved less than stellar, although I rather liked the raw egg on my pizza; it was about the only thing with flavor. Susie's gallette was not terribly exciting either and seemed poorly prepared.

As we pulled out of Mirepoix few souls were venturing out into the chilly night air. The drive home took us back through Limoux and then south to Couza, Antugnac and the Domaine for bed.

All-in-all it was a wonderful day, filled with places seen for the first time and perhaps never to be seen again; new experiences to be savored no matter what the tiny flaws in the moment. We certainly had it easier than the Cathars, a point not to be forgotten anytime soon.

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