Lousonna was a Gallo-Roman port during Roman times. The port town was important for commerce with links on Lake Geneva to Roman towns such as the present-day Geneva, Nyon, and Villeneuve.
However, during Roman times, Lausanne was never of political or military importance. Although borders shifted, Lausanne was mostly a backwater at the southern most parts of Germania, ruled from Mainz. Political and military power in the region was concentrated in Avenches and Yverdon-les-Bains.
From the fourth century onwards, Lausanne gradually moved uphill to higher grounds with the Roman port town eventually abandoned. Today, the Roman ruins are some way from the lakeshore, as the level of Lake Geneva was permanently lowered during the nineteenth century. The immediate area is used for various sport facilities and a great area for outdoor activities and strolls along the shores of the lake.
The Musée Romain in Lausanne-Vidy is a fairly small museum on Roman history. The ground floor of the museum, which is built over the foundations of a Roman villa, is used for temporary exhibitions. These exhibitions can cover much more than just the Roman era. As this area is half the museum, the theme and quality of the display very much influence whether the museum is worth visiting at all. Fortunately, the displays are generally excellent and manage to link historic themes well with the present day.
A short walk from the Roman Museum – pass underneath the highway towards the lake – is the Lausanne Roman Archaeological Park. Here many Roman foundations have been uncovered. Visitors can freely explore the archaeological park. Information tables explain the Roman town layout and buildings. The temple was a good 71 m long but the antique port wall is probably the more impressive.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.