Travel France: Visit the Ariege Pyrenees Department in France

Travel France: Visit the Ariege Pyrenees Department in France

Travel France: Visit the Ariege Pyrenees Department in France

Travel France: Visit the Ariege Pyrenees Department in France

 

Incredible Adventure, History, Culture and Cuisine Await Visitors to the Couserans Region of the Ariege

 

By WAVEJourney

Exploring various parts of France is something we can’t get enough of. Each time we return to this splendid and diverse country we like to delve into a new area. A 6-night June visit to the Couserans region in the Ariege Pyrenees department was custom designed specifically for us by Penny Walker from the Adventure Creators – and what a fantastic itinerary it was!

LOCATION:

Visit the Ariege Pyrenees in southwestern France

Visit the Ariege Pyrenees in southwestern France

With a population of approximately 155,000, the Ariege department is situated in southwestern France on the border with Spain. Also located near the border of Andora, is the prefecture of Foix with a population of approximately 10,000. The Couserans region encompasses 1,162 KM² /449 sq. Miles, has a population of approximately 22,000 inhabitants, and is situated in the western half of Ariege – within the Parc Naturel Regional.

Getting off the beaten path in Ariege Pyrenees, France.

Getting off the beaten path in Ariege Pyrenees, France.

Known for the 18 valleys that make up this area, the landscape of the Couserans combines the steep mountains of the Pyrenees, forested foothills with fast-flowing waterfalls, pristine lakes, Roman art and architecture in some of the quaint and historic towns (such as Saint Lizier), plus a rich and fascinating history.

GETTING THERE:

Visit quaint villages in the Ariege Pyrenees in southwestern France

Visit quaint villages in the Ariege Pyrenees in southwestern France

Our travels took us to the Western Ariege and the Natural Regional Park of the Pyrenees-Ariegoises. To the north of the Ariege department is Toulouse, the capital city of the department of Haute-Garonne, which makes for easy access. Visitors can fly, bus or train to Toulouse and then use a rental car (we booked with Auto Europe) for exploring. For example, the drive from Toulouse train station to the vibrant town of St. Girons (the capital and largest town in the Couserans), which is located on the Salat River and makes for a terrific base, is only about 104 KM/ 64 miles and takes about 90 minutes. From St. Girons, driving 30-60 minutes in any direction opens up a world of adventures, activities and attractions.

To see as much of the Couserans region as possible, on your own time table and at your own pace, we recommend self-driving the Ariège. The roads are excellent, not too busy, and for the most part signage between towns works very well – but also pick up a detailed map of the area for times when GPS doesn’t work.

ACTIVITIES:

Hiking in the Ariege Pyrenees

Hiking in the Ariege Pyrenees

Endless activities are available in the Ariege. We had a fantastic week filled with golfing, kayaking, hiking, horse riding, history, culture, nature and wildlife, beautiful villages, local culinary delights, spectacular scenery, and friendly locals. In this department, there really is something for everyone that likes to find hidden gems off the beaten path.

WHY GO?

Viv and Jill hiking in Ariege Pyrennes

Viv and Jill Hiking in Ariege Pyrennes

Not only is the Ariege department stunningly beautiful, it has interesting history, delicious local cuisine, charming villages and towns, and is not overrun with tourists, it offers tremendous value.

Golf at EcoGolf in Ariege

Golf at EcoGolf in Ariege

The week we spent exploring the Couserans and Parc Natural was not nearly enough. It just gave us a taste of what this untouristy destination has to offer and cemented the fact that we need to return again – and for much longer. Maybe our next visit will be in the winter to take in some of the activities that are only available at that time of year. Either way, we can’t wait to go back before the masses find out about this wonderful place.

WHEN YOU GO:

Jill with Penny from The Adventure Creators

Jill with Penny Walker from The Adventure Creators

 

ADVENTURE AND ACTIVITIES:

Adventure and Activities in Ariege Pyrenees

Adventure and Activities in Ariege Pyrenees

 

WHERE TO EAT (reservations recommended for below restaurants):

Where to Eat in the Ariege Pyrenees

Where to Eat in the Ariege Pyrenees

  • L’Auberge d’Antan – next to the Chateau De Beauregard in St. Girons – excellent regional cuisine with country atmosphere – open for lunch and dinner.
  • Auberge de la Core – in the Vallee de Bethmale – serves regional cuisine at lunch and dinner.
  • Les Terrasses de l’Ecogolf – at the EcoGolf Ariege Pyrenees course in La Bastide de Serou – serves local ingredients on their menu of the day.
  • Les Trois Our in Mane – Grill and Saladerie – open for lunch and dinner.
Regional Culinary Specialties

Foie Gras and Duck are some of the regional culinary specialties in Ariege

 

STAY AT:

 

Mas d'Azil Cave in Ariege, France

Mas d’Azil Cave in Ariege, France

 

Notes: WAVEJourney travelled to Ariege Pyrenees June 2017 as media guests, but all opinions and recommendations about this fantastic place are completely our own. Read our full disclosure statement to see our review policy.

 

Adventure Creators

Adventure Creators Custom Pyrenees Trips

 

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