Ariege Mountains and Lakes
Ariege mountains and lakes
The Moulin is ideally situated for enjoying the spectacular scenery of the Ariege Mountains and lakes.
A 25 minute drive away takes you to the Col de Peguere where you can see a 180 degree panorama of the mountain peaks that create the border of France with Andorra and Spain. Below is a recommended drive that gives you a good flavour of the Ariege.
Choose a sunny morning and leave before 8.30 to get the best views. Take the D117 towards St Girons. Just before you get to Rimont turn left to Col de la Crouzette. After 100 yds turn right and continue up the valley to the Col de Rhil. There is a good view to the right towards St Girons. Turn left and continue to Le Col de la Crouzette. Where you turn left and enjoy the wonderful panorama of mountains to the right. Continue East along this road until you get to the highest point of the road, Col de la Portet, where you get a view towards Toulouse to the left and the Pyrenees to the right. Continue along the road to the Col de Peguere, Here there is a viewing platform that locates all the mountain peaks you can see. Take note of Mont Valier, later on this drive you will pass over the Col de la Port, the saddle to the right of it. Just beyond the viewing position there is a road to the right that takes you down to Massat. Take this steep narrow road down and turn right at the bottom to Massat, arguably the marjuana capital of France. There is still gold panning in the Arac River north of Massatt, probably hippies high on pot!
In Massat turn left and meander up the long valley towards Col de Lers and Col d’Agnes. For climbers once you get to top of the valley you can turn left and do the Trois Seigneurs Peak walk/climb ( 4 hr round trip) otherwise turn right and perhaps stop at the Etang de Lers for a coffee. Then continue along the road leading to Le Col d’Agnes, with splendid views of the lake behind you. At the Col, stop and walk up the path to the viewing peak, where there is another viewing platform pointing another series of peaks. By the time you have got to the top there will most likely be 6 -10 Griffon Vultures circling above and if you are lucky a Lamagier or 2 – these have a 10ft wing span, so don’t lie down for too long!
The road continue down to Aulus les Bains. If you were on a day’s outing you could turn left here towards Guzet Niege (Local Ski Resort) on the first main right hand hairpin bend there is a path that leads to Le Cascade d’Arse. More scenic than its name suggests, but a good 45 minute walk to get to it, spectacular after heavy rain.
If you are on the 4-5 hr drive proceed through Aulus les Bains to Oust where you turn left for Seix. In the centre of Seix turn right over the river direction Col de la Core. There is a good cafe for a cup of coffee 20 yards past the bridge. This road takes you up to the Col de la Core, the tour de France usually takes this route each year. On the last bend before the top it is worth stopping to read about the “Chemin de la Liberte“ – The high Pyrenean escape route the allied pilots, Jews and other French took to escape from the Nazis. Allied pilots were sold back to the allies, the Jews and French were put into Franco’s concentration camps! (Arguably better than dying in the work camps in the East.)
At the Col there are spectacular views of the Pyrenees to the right and the Castillon valley to the left. Proceed down the other side and about 2 miles down, at a wooded corner turn left to Lac de Bethmale, which is only 50 yards off the main road. Takes about half an hour to walk round, good place for a picnic.
Proceed down the Bethmale Valley and turn right at the bottom to Castillon. The road continues to St Girons. where you pick up the Foix road D117, to get back to the Moulin and enjoy the pool. There are many other excellent scenic drives that you can take but the above is a great introduction to the Ariege.
This next link is series of youtube clips. You will need a whole evening to see them all, and some will not be to your taste, like hunting sangliers and deer. Be selective.https://www.youtube.com/watch?