The Saint-Valéry Church in Varengeville-sur-Mer is perched on top of the cliffs of Ailly, hidden among gardens and woods bordering the cliff and overlooks the sea from a height of 84 metres. The lateral aisle in sandstone dates back to 1548 and was perhaps built by Jehan Ango to enlarge the primitive sanctuary. The Choir is bathed in a blue light diffused by the abstract stained glass of Raoul Ubac, disciple of Braque. The wreathed column is decorated with reliefs which were inspired by maritime expeditions. The 3rd column is polygonal (a Henry II pillar top).
The church is surrounded by the marine cemetery, made famous by 2 brothers, Jérôme and Jean Tharaud, who lived in Varengeville and wrote several texts about it in the Chronicles of Figaro in 1948. This was the beginning of the fame of this sanctuary. Some artists compare the texts of the Tharaud brothers to the poem by Paul Valéry, the Marine Cemetery, written in 1920 and singing the charms of the marine cemetery of Sète. Analogies were drawn between the two cemeteries.References:
The Château de Foix dominates the town of Foix. An important tourist site, it is known as a centre of the Cathars. Built on an older 7th-century fortification, the castle is known from 987. In 1002, it was mentioned in the will of Roger I, Count of Carcassonne, who bequeathed the fortress to his youngest child, Bernard. In effect, the family ruling over the region were installed here which allowed them to control access to the upper Ariège valley and to keep surveillance from this strategic point over the lower land, protected behind impregnable walls.
In 1034, the castle became capital of the County of Foix and played a decisive role in medieval military history. During the two following centuries, the castle was home to Counts with shining personalities who became the soul of the Occitan resistance during the crusade against the Albigensians. The county became a privileged refuge for persecuted Cathars.
The castle, often besieged (notably by Simon de Montfort in 1211 and 1212), resisted assault and was only taken once, in 1486, thanks to treachery during the war between two branches of the Foix family.
From the 14th century, the Counts of Foix spent less and less time in the uncomfortable castle, preferring the Governors' Palace. From 1479, the Counts of Foix became Kings of Navarre and the last of them, made Henri IV of France, annexed his Pyrrenean lands to France.
As seat of the Governor of the Foix region from the 15th century, the castle continued to ensure the defence of the area, notably during the Wars of Religion. Alone of all the castles in the region, it was exempted from the destruction orders of Richelieu (1632-1638).
Until the Revolution, the fortress remained a garrison. Its life was brightened with grand receptions for its governors, including the Count of Tréville, captain of musketeers under Louis XIII and Marshal Philippe Henri de Ségur, one of Louis XVI's ministers. The Round Tower, built in the 15th century, is the most recent, the two square towers having been built before the 11th century. They served as a political and civil prison for four centuries until 1862.
Since 1930, the castle has housed the collections of the Ariège départemental museum. Sections on prehistory, Gallo-Roman and mediaeval archaeology tell the history of Ariège from ancient times. Currently, the museum is rearranging exhibits to concentrate on the history of the castle site so as to recreate the life of Foix at the time of the Counts.