The region of Foix

Tourism in Ariege :

In the region around the fuxean city, one can find a lot of interesting locations which mark the local territory, notably the remnants of catharism. Most of the places you should have a look at are at less than 30min by car from the villaL’oustal de Tréville suggests you the following destinations and provides you with all the necessary informations for planning the perfect holidays in Ariège.

Beware of the available itineraries for the time that some visits take may greatly vary from one another.

The forges of Pyrène (10min by car)

One can discover, at the forges of Pyrènes, the use of smithy tools already there in the Middle Ages and still manipulated by today's Ariege blacksmith-craftsmen. They still use the methods of the past that you get to witness while they are at work. Various services are available over at the forges like a picnic area, a playground for kids, a restaurant and kennels.

Opens almost the whole year, 10.00am - 06.00pm

Adress : Route de Paris

Phone : +33 (0)5 34 09 30 60

The castle of Montségur (35min by car)

Nestled in the middle of the countryside, the castle testifies of the Cathar presence in the area and of the Albigensian crusade that happened in reaction. Object of a siege in 1244 whose goal was to dislodge the entranched heretics, Montségur is both a curiosity and the source of several myths tied to the location and its surroundings. The ruins of the castle that one can witness today have however nothing to do with the Cathars, for the site has been fortified during the XVIIth century with a Vauban-style citadel. Situated at the heart of Ariege, an excursion to the castle of Montségur is the occasion for a stopover, the time of a tour and a picnic, during your trip in the country.

Open every day but in January 
10.00-11.00am to 04.00-06.00pm.

Adult : €5.50/€6.50 | Child : €3/€3.50 | Free for the 8 years old or less. | Group pricings

Adress : 09300 MONTSEGUR

Phone : +33 (0)5 61 01 06 94

The castle of Usson (1h30 by car)

As the village of Montségur, the castle of Usson is a vestige of catharism located not far away from the Aude département. Sitting at high altitude as any cathar castle, the visit of Usson is the occasion for a stopover at the countryside in order to profit from an interesting panorama of the surroundings. Monument from the XIth century, the castle is inhabitated with no discontinuity until the Revolution, when it gets confiscated and turned into a quarry, marking the beginning of the destruction of the building. A museum was set in the old stables as a maison du patrimoine (home of the heritage).

Open from 10.00am to 1.00pm and from 03.00pm to 07.00pm in July and August.
Open from 02.00pm to 06.00pm the rest of the year depending on the season.

Adult : €4 | Child : €2.10 | Group : €3

Adress : 09460 ROUZE

Phone : +33 (0)4 68 20 41 37

The castle of Puivert (55min by car)

Yet another typical cathar castle, the castle of Puivert was built in the XIIth century and saw itself besieged in 1210 after what it became property of the crown. Its dungeon is remarkably well-conserved and was used as a set for several movies since 1987.

From December the 15th to Easter : open every day but saturday from 10.00 to 17.00
From Easter to November the 15th : open every day from 9.00 to 19.00
Closed from November the 15th to December the 15th.

Adult : €5 | 5-12 years old : €3 |Group (20 people) : €4.

Adress : Rue du Chemin du Château

Phone : +33 (0)4 68 20 81 52

The castle of Roquefixade (25min by car)

Another mark of the albigensian crusade led by Simon de Montfort, the castle of Roquefixade has the particularity of having been built on a fissured rock. One of its cornerstone effectively spans a hole in the rock on which it stands, giving it its name (Roquefixade can be lousely translated by Rockfixed).

Free and open access.

Adress : 09300 ROQUEFIXADE

Phone : +33 (0)5 61 01 55 02

The bridge of the devil (11min by car)

A little bridge built in 1836, linking Montoulieu to Saint-Paul de Jarrat. Several tales, proven wrong by studies led in the 1960's, attributed its construction to a pact with the devil, setting its origin back to the Middle Ages, which explains its name as pont du diable (bridge of the devil). This amusing curiosity can serve as a stopover during a trip towards the south of the country or towards the cathar castles.

Free and open access.

Adress : 9000 MONTOULIEU

Phone : +33 (0)5 61 65 12 12

The subterranean river of Labouiche (11min by car)

Longest navigable subterranean river of Europe, the Venise ariégeoise is located not far away from Foix and allows to wander along caves and crevasses for a more than an hour long journey. Particularly enjoyable with your family, as children generally enjoy the subterranean canoeing a lot. Plan to bring along appropriate shoes and clothes, as it constitutes an actual speleological tour.

Operating hours vary depending on the season. Closed on Mondays.

Adult pricing : €10.80 | Child pricing : €8.80 | Group pricings

Adress : La Grange, D1

Phone : +33 (0)5 61 65 04 11

The Cave of the Mas d'Azil (30min by car)

It was a refuge both at the time of the Magdalenians and at the time of the Cathars  (early XIIIth century) during the crusade against them. It fits today for a tour and is equipped with several services in addition to a museum. A picnic area and a parking area are available for tourists.

Open depending on the season, varying operating hours.

Between €5 and €10 the ticket. Either for only the cave or museum + cave.

Adress : Avenue de la Grotte

Phone : +33 (0)5 61 69 97 71

The Caves of Niaux (30min by car)

Rare prehistorical vestige, the Caves of Niaux are decorated with a very rich parietal art. One can find there the representations of the wildlife from the Pyrénées, 14.000 years ago. The museum suits families with specific pricings. It is quasi-mandatory to reserve your stay before you go to Niaux in order to take part in the personnel-lead tours.

Open the whole year but requires a reservation.

Adult : €12 | Child : €7.

Adress : 09400 NIAUX

Phone : +33 (0)5 61 05 10 10

The Cave of Lombrives (20min by car)

The largest cave of Europe, as it is presented in the Guiness Book of Records for 25 years now, is a peculiar place where one can peek in detail at the sedimentation of Ariege. Geology and underground hiking enthusiasts will be able to experiment one of the several long paths that the Cave of Lombrives offers, which may take between 1 and 3 hours depending on the path you've chosen.

Operating hours vary depending on the season.

Pricing vary depending on the chosen route and participants, between €5 and €12.

Adress : Grotte de Lombrives

Phone : +33 (0)5 61 05 98 40 or +33 (0)6 70 74 32 80

The palace of the bishops of Saint-Lizier (40min by car)

Museum and panorama unmatched in the city. The palace of the bishops gives to witness a pleasant view on the Pyrénées and reveals the lineage of the bishops of Saint-Lizier starting from the IVth century towards the XIXth century, throwing you back to the roman empire era and the setup of the ecclesiastical provinces that remain the same nowadays. As an integral part of the museum, the Cathedral Notre-Dame-de-la-Sède is also a monument worth to see making Saint-Lizier a rather important tourism destination in Ariege.

Open from Easter to the All Saints' day as well as for Christmas.
From July the 1st to September the 25th : open from 10.00am to 06.30pm.
Other periods : 02.00pm-06.00pm. Closed on mondays.

€5.60 per adult | €3.80 per 13-18 years old | €3 per 5-12 years old.

Adress : Route de l’évêché

Phone : +33 (0)5 61 01 71 19

The rupestral church of Notre-Dame de Vals (30min by car)

The church Notre-Dame de Vals, blending rocky faults with architectural elements that complete them, throws you back to protohistory and the first inhabitants of the site. The church, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin as its name indicates it, holds some gorgeous Romanesque mural paintings from the XIIth century as well as an impressive panorama from the church's terrace. Parking spots and a picnic area are also available.

Opens everyday from 9.00am to 05.00pm.

Free and open access.

Adress : Eglise rupestre Notre-Dame de Vals
09500 VALS

Phone : +33 (0)5 61 68 83 76

The intermittent source of Fontestorbes (40min by car)

This intermittent fountain is one of the most important in the world. Very rare phenomenon around the globe, the flow of the fountain of Fontestorbes vary between 20 and 1800 litres poured out per second and its rhythm changes very little during the year, making it particularly peculiar regarding other intermittent sources. The geological mystery at its origin makes Fontestorbes one of the most impressive destination during a trip in southern France. The tour comes along games for kids and short stories about the source and its legends. There also is a restaurant nearby.

Open every day from 9.00am to 07.00pm.

Free and open access.

Adress : Fontestorbes

Phone : +33 (0)5 61 02 76 93

The pre-historical park of Tarascon (20min by car)

The pre-historical park makes you live the day-to-day life of the magdalenians, the very ones who inhabitated the caves of Niaux all the way back then. Spread on 13 hectares, it aims to emulate a pre-historical reserve via animations and activities. This huge park also offers several services besides its content : playground, picnic area, audio guides, parking spots and restaurant.

Open every day from 10.00am to 08.00pm.

Adult : €10.80 | 13-18 years old : €8.30 | 5-12 years old : €6.90 | Family : €32


Phone : +33 (0)5 61 05 10 10

The ecomuseum of Alzen (20min by car)

The ecomuseum of Alzen is a farm which opens the whole year for tourism, offering restauration during your stay at a traditional farmhouse. Both a project  of preservation of nature and a haven of tranquility nestled at the heart of Ariege, the ecomuseum is an interesting destination for whomever wishes to have a taste of Ariege. A trip to the ecomuseum of Alzen usually means investing a lot of time in it, so beware of planning your journey consequently. Expositions and animations are scheduled every month.

Open every day from 10.30am to 06.30pm.

Adult : €5 | 14 years old and below : €2.50 | Free for the 5 years old and below.

Adress : Vidallac
09240 ALZEN

Phone : +33 (0)5 61 02 74 51

The road to Carcassonne :

Medieval place settings of Mirepoix in Ariege

On the road to Carcassonne, the city of Mirepoix is an interesting stopover. Mirepoix remains a pleasant pittoresque village alike Foix and should be the object of a brief tour, may you drive on her way. Its medieval place settings are remarkably well-conserved and decorate the old center which includes the XIIIth century Cathedral Saint-Maurice.

Carcassonne makes you leave Ariège for Aude, neighbour département with caracteristic red clayey rocks. The medieval city is a worldwide reference when it comes to such fortifications and layout in western Europe. Paved roads, secular walls and numerous discoveries await you in what seems to be a trip in the past.

The medieval city of Carcassonne, Aude, France

Products and specialities from Ariege :

The Bethmale

Cheese made out of gascon cow's milk, the bethmale (pronounced betmal) got his name from the valley it comes from. One among the few cheeses made out of cow's milk in the Ariege Pyrenees, the bethmale is produced since centuries in Ariege and benefits today from an AOC (Appellation d'origine contrôlée, controlled designation of origin). It is recommended to savour it with red wine.

The Moulis

Renowned brand including all cheeses from the eponymous town in Ariege. There are moulis made out of cow's milk, goat's milk or ewe's milk and all of them are made at the Moulis cheese factory though their taste, their texture and their recommended side drink obviously depend on the type of milk that is used as well as their time of maturing.

The Hippocras

Medieval beverage made out of wine, the recipe usually includes honey and/or sugar and is usually flavoured with ginger, cinnamon and other optional spices. Its name would be a tribute to Hippocrates, the famous father of medicine from ancient Greece. The Hippocras is not an exclusive speciality of Ariege, it is also found in the canton of Basel (Switzerland) and in the Haute-Loire département, but it stills constitutes an oenological curiosity to savour during the dessert.

The Ariege

Protected geographical indication wine, in this case the département, the Ariege wine has been recently reintroduced in the 1990's after decades of suspension of production. There notably are the wines from the coteaux d'Engraviès.

The Azinat

Gastronomic speciality from high Ariege, the azinat (which means to gather in occitan) is a cabbage-based dish, livened up by potatoes and cooked pork meat, which is shared with one's family at the end of the day.
The Mounjetado

Variant of the cassoulet prepared in Ariege and other south-western départements, the mounjetado is cooked with coco de Pamiers beans and cooked pork meat.