and its glacis, with 8 ha of woods and meadows, in the land of the Cathars
This property, overlooking the plain of Mirepoix, a medieval town, is just an hour from Toulouse (airport and TGV train station), 45 minutes from Carcassonne, 1½ hours from the Roussillon beaches or the Pyrenean mountains. Unspoilt natural surroundings, unusual sites, legends, festivals and local gastronomy compose the pastoral and cosmopolitan landscape of the French department of Ariège.
The house stands, as if in suspension, facing the valley with a 180° view over the Pyrenean mountains. The swimming pool is installed along the walkway, near the outbuildings. These premises bear witness to the history of Mirepoix, the Cathars and the House of Lévis, related to the French crown.
Two castles succeeded one another here. No longer in existence, the first dated from the early Middle-Ages. It was on the east side of the site. The first Lords of Lévis lived there for a while. At the end of the 13th century, the dilapidated state of this first castle led to the construction of a new castle on the west side of the site. The latter included a quadrangular tower, still standing and superbly visible from Mirepoix, and the adjoining outbuildings and storerooms, some of which have been demolished, and the rest, providing a solution of continuity, preserved and extended in the 17th century. This addition resulted in the building, with its triangular pediment, that is currently home to the property owners who have installed modern-day home comforts.
The large, luxurious home
This residence, with its triangular pediment, is set between the keep and the chapel. It was converted in the 17th century and modified in the 19th century. Modern-day home comforts have now been installed. This renovated building is insulated and heated. Spanning two levels under attic space which could be converted, it comprises eight bedrooms, two of which await renovation, another small, adjoining bedroom could be transformed into a bathroom. 400 m² of living space is habitable with the attic space awaiting conversion. A wide, spiral stone stairway goes up to the first floor in the centre of the house: a large landing and a through corridor provide access to five bedrooms and two bathrooms. High ceilings, large, mullioned windows and illuminated French doors enhance the large rooms, with their oak wood parquet flooring, marble fireplaces and gilt-framed mirrors.
A few stone steps lead to double, wooden entrance doors opening into a small vestibule and the corridor going through to the terrace entrance on the south side. This vestibule is in need of some attention as is an old kitchen, with its fireplace and terracotta floor tiles. A back wooden stairway goes up to the attic space and two maid’s bedrooms, awaiting renovation. Behind a service door, sliding under the stairs, a vast, L-shaped, fitted kitchen has an open-hearth fireplace: one section is under a 17th century stone vault, the other under exposed beams, with an open-hearth fireplace, leading via a French window out to the garden. The other wooden door opens into a double lounge, with its marble fireplace and mullioned window looking out over the Pyrenean mountains. At the end of the corridor, the stone stairway, followed by a bedroom with oak wood parquet flooring and its fireplace as well as an adjoining bathroom, with a shower, and a toilet. The latter precede a dining room on the south side. Tiled, it has a marble fireplace and a mullioned, south-facing window.
A wide landing, with parquet flooring and a 3.8 m high ceiling, provides access to four bedrooms and another smaller room adjoining a master bedroom. They are all beautifully restored and insulated, with marble fireplaces. The master bedroom, on the south side, has a separate toilet and a separate bathroom. Its mullioned windows and a French window open on to a small balcony facing the valley. Another toilet as well as a small shower room can be reached via the landing.
Under joists, laid with rockwool and featuring exposed beams, the attic space (spanning approx. 170 m²) with its numerous small windows set along the south facade, could be converted. Preceded by a first bedroom on the east side, then another maid’s bedroom with wooden flooring and a mezzanine on the north side (awaiting renovation), the attic space can be reached via the wooden stairway, from the small entrance vestibule on the north side.
The medieval tower
Standing at altitude on the west corner of the uppermost perimeter wall on an enormous glacis, the second castle tower reflects the air of a fortress, symbol of the military power held by the House of Lévis in the 13th century. This tower is accessed via a door on the rear side which opens directly on to the first floor. With a square, 90 m² base, it spans three levels. A spiral, stone stairway goes down to the depths of a very old cellar. Two large rooms, with wooden flooring, are both flanked by a monumental stone fireplace. Windows provide vast vistas on the south and west sides. This 10th century tower has French Historic Monument listing as do the ruins of the first castle. Surprisingly, there are two coats-of-arms above this door: one features four chevrons, the other is illegible.
Following the destruction of the first castle, the walls of the then adjoining private chapel were weakened. Its walls, built of stone and red brick, still remain. Two superb gothic arched windows rise skywards. The year of the renovation works, 1891, is engraved in the stone. The archivolts and the jambs of the windows feature 8-pointed stars, between the girdles, or wide strips imitating bricks. In the embrasure are elegant lineaments of red foliated scrolls on a white background and ended with whitewashed palmettes, noted in the General Heritage Inventory as dating from the late 13th century.
Workshops and storage areas used for technical purposes (swimming pool, oil tank, greenhouse) are nearby, along the walkway.
The swimming pool has a salt filtration system and a telescopic cover.
A site of tales and legends, all part of Occitan history, in the midst of unspoilt natural surroundings. This house, of a reasonable size with eight bedrooms, two of which are in need of renovation, would enable a large family to live in the peace and quiet near to all amenities. The medieval tower has potential for cultural and workshop activities, whilst the lawns and the terrace could be used for events and functions. Enthusiasts could continue archaeological excavation and renovation works. The parklands are as romantic as the view is panoramic. In a region where it is pleasant to live all year round, it is an ideal site, both day and night, for contemplation, creation or festivities.
Furthermore, a 3-roomed, 140 m² house, all on a level at the entrance to the estate, is also available for purchase and would make an interesting addition to the property.
|Land registry surface area||8 ha|
|Number of bedrooms||5|
|Main building surface area||400 m2|
|Outbuilding surface area||250 m2|
Elodie Bessé +33 1 42 84 80 85
NB: The above information is not only the result of our visit to the property; it is also based on information provided by the current owner. It is by no means comprehensive or strictly accurate especially where surface areas and construction dates are concerned. We cannot, therefore, be held liable for any misrepresentation.