Mirepoix is a most beautiful town and it is only 20 minutes or less from Leran. It has quite a history. It is a bastide town which means it was hurriedly built in the 13th century by either the French or the British who were occupying parts of France. Part of their purpose was to encourage settlement of sparsely populated areas prior to the Hundred Years' War. They are generally fortified and have streets on somewhat of a grid. There are supposed to be over 300 bastide towns in Southwest France.
When you go to Mirepoix, you will no doubt notice the half timbered buildings and the arcaded main square. It is said to be one of the loveliest in this part of France. The square hosts the weekly market which is one of the better ones I've seen, notable for the amount of produce and foodstuffs as opposed to junk which we already have too much of.
Mirepoix also has a fairly remarkable cathedral begun in 1343 and not finished until 1867. Six hundred years in the making. The remarkable feature is the width of the Gothic nave. Imagine the difficulty, when building with stone, of creating a roof without the use of long timbers. They did it with stone and mortar, fighting gravity all the way.
I'm not sure why Mirepoix has an arcaded square as no one has been able to answer my questions on why it was built in that manner. I've never come across another town in France built that way, although I'm sure there must be others. What I mean by arcaded is that the ground floor is set back underneath the first and second stories (I'm using the French terminology here) and supported by large posts and beams, and here and there by a new steel girder. There must have been a practical reason for it. I imagine it had to with protection, but something more than protection from the elements. If anyone knows, please educate us.
The windmill? I know nothing about it except that I think it has been converted to living space. It's quite beautiful and there was a sign that says it was for rent.