The Ariege is relatively undiscovered as a holiday destination, but it has plenty to offer visitors. The rolling countryside is reminiscent of Tuscany. Around Laytoure, any elevated spot gives you dramatic views of the Pyrenees. There is an abundance of birds and other wildlife: we regularly see deer, wild boar, hares, golden orioles, hoopoes, black woodpeckers, hobbies and kites. There are many nearby walks, and activities such as horse riding, kayaking and golf are all available locally. Bikes can be hired from Velomondo, and they will deliver to Laytoure (20 euros). The Pyrenees Adventure Company organises exciting outdoor activities for families, groups and individuals visiting the Ariege. They link with excellent local providers who offer good quality activities including rafting, gorge walking, high ropes, climbing, caving and cycling as well as their own Adventure Safari.
Within a short drive you can find lakes with swimming and beaches at the Lac de Mondely and near the panoramic artists' village of Carla-Bayle. Nearby sites of interest include the village and prehistoric cave of Le Mas d'Azil, the town of Foix with its chateau, the underground river of Labouiche, and the picturesque medieval town of Mirepoix. During the summer months there are numerous fetes and festivals.
Fete de la Pomme, Mirepoix
Walking the dolmens route near Le Mas d'Azil; Lac Mondely swimming lake
Pyrenean walks just over an hour's drive away: the Lac de Soulcem and the Plateau de Beille.
The Tarascon area, about 40 minutes' drive away, has a number of prehistoric sites including the Grottes de Niaux and the nearby Prehistoric Park. There are a number of Cathar Castles within visiting distance including the famous Montsegur and Carcassonne. Further afield, the high Pyrenees, Andorra and Mediterranean resorts are all about an hour and a half's drive away, and Barcelona is about three hours.
Montsegur and Foix chateaux
For more detailed information on things to see and do,
www.ariege.com offers an excellent guide including sports, leisure, markets, historic sites and curiosities.