Bethmale lake in Couserans, paradise for walkers and fishermen

Bethmale
Bethmale lake in Cous ...

In the heart of the Regional Natural Park of the Ariège Pyrenees, the Couserans and its 18 valleys constitute a vast territory divided between the high mountains, the green valleys and the foothills, dominated by the 2838 meters of the “ Lord of Couserans ”, the Mont Valier. In this spectacular natural setting, Lake Bethmale melts our hearts by offering us its majestic emerald color. Nestled in its green setting, this paradisiacal site is popular with walkers, fishing enthusiasts, families, photographers, dreamers and epicureans in search of serenity and relaxation. Unique in Ariège, it guarantees a total change of scenery in all seasons!


Bethmale Lake

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Bethmale lake: jewel of Couserans in Ariège

Bethmale Lake

Bethmale Lake

A wooden pontoon allows access to people with reduced mobility and strollers

Bethmale Lake


Here is a beautiful postcard decor! At 1074m above sea level, Lake Bethmale is a true wonder of nature with its crystal clear emerald waters and its deciduous forest. To reach it from Castillon-en-Couserans, go to Bordes-sur-Lez and turn left towards the Bethmale valley and the Col de la Core. A large free car park awaits visitors to park vehicles before reaching the lake located a few dozen meters away on foot. Along three large pools, a wooden pontoon allows easy access to the lake, making it accessible to people with reduced mobility and strollers. This path invites us into the exceptional scenery of the lake: arriving on the shores, the light and the play of lake reflections with the forest are bewitching.  

A mystical legend and a true curiosity of nature

Bethmale Lake

The underground source of the lake comes from the depths

We are immediately surprised by its calm and limpid waters, as well as by the silence which reigns there. Here, the lake is not fed by a river, nor by a torrent. However, near the parking lot, the waterfall that flows from the lake shows a strong flow of water. So how did this lake form? Legend has it that a wicked witch once lived in hiding at Lake Bethmale. Her evil presence plagued the life of the inhabitants of the village and angered them every day, so much so that they decided to climb towards the Core Pass with their forks to get rid of her. Pursued and trapped by the Bethmalais, she jumped into the lake dressed in a blue-green dress, swearing that she would never disappear. Remained at the bottom of the lake, it still haunts the place giving it its special reflections...

In fact, Lake Bethmale is one of the most beautiful karst springs in the Pyrenees. The water infiltrates it through the ground supplied by a vast underground network which threads its way through the limestones between Mont Valier and Lake Bethmale. The underground spring, visible from the shores, has a turquoise blue color and therefore feeds this one hectare body of water from the depths of the earth!  

A place to indulge in contemplation

Bethmale Lake Bethmale Lake   Bethmale Lake

A path goes around the lake  

Some places give off something special, between energy and wonder. The Bethmale lake is one of those places suitable for strolling, relaxing with family, couple or friends. Wherever the eye is, it is inevitably drawn to the Pyrenees mountains, its peaks and its summits.  

If swimming and water sports are prohibited in the waters of Lake Bethmale to protect the fish and its unique ecosystem, this natural body of water offers a wide range of activities and simple pleasures: take the time to stroll on its shores planted with beech trees, sit down to contemplate what surrounds us, picnic, stroll, read in the shade of a tree, install your hammock, observe the aquatic flora and fauna, admire its incredible reflections and its sumptuous color palette varying from turquoise blue to emerald green. A shaded footpath runs around the lake and gives access to many other marked hiking trails to enjoy the joys of walking and fully savor this grandiose setting (starting point of the GR10). Everyone at their own pace, respecting nature.


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A real corner of paradise for fishing enthusiasts

Bethmale Lake

Bethmale Lake

The ONF hut for rental of fishing equipment and sale of the day fishing license

Who is not tempted to hang a bait on the hook and wait patiently for a beautiful trout to be trapped? Between May and October, the lake Bethmale offers tourist fishing course in 1 st category for the delight of fishermen of all ages. Managed by passionate volunteers from the APPMA (Approved Association for Fishing and Protection of the Aquatic Environment), the lake is famous for salmonids : brown trout, rainbow trout and brook salmon. Bringing together around thirty amateur fishermen and nature lovers, this association ensures the maintenance of the lake and the annual supply of fry which grow in the pure waters of the grow-out basins at the entrance to the lake. In total, more than 3000kg of rainbow trout, 550kg of brown trout and 550kg of brook salmon are bought every year at the Saurat fish farm to be released into the lake once mature. The excellent quality of the water and the abundance of shrimp, insects, snails and tadpoles provide perfect living conditions for these fish which naturally feed on this biotope throughout their growth.


Bethmale Lake   Bethmale Lake

Bethmale Lake   Bethmale Lake

Bethmale Lake   Bethmale Lake

Children indulge in the joys of trout fishing  

The lake is watched over by fishermen who crisscross it and offer equipment for hire from the ONF hut on the left bank. Seasoned fishermen can of course bring their own equipment and pay the day fishing license to the fisherman. A fishing course is offered to children to tease fish. Last year, no less than 2,600 fishermen took advantage of the pleasures of fishing and 900 children who awakened to this activity in harmony with nature!  

(see fishing conditions and regulations at Bethmale lake below)  

A magnificent place to be preserved

Bethmale Lake

Bethmale Lake


This beautiful place has its rules that must be known and respected to preserve its unique environment. Camping, fires, swimming are prohibited. Our animal friends are not allowed to bathe either. Two stone barbecues are located at the two entrances to the lake for grilling, tables and benches discreetly scattered in the forest to enjoy a picnic. At the edge of the lake, the National Forestry Office places its lodging at the disposal of the APPMA between May and October (Approved Association of Fishing and Protection of the Aquatic Environment) for the fishing activity. During the rest of the year, this cottage remains open and accessible to all, not for sleeping but to take shelter in the event of bad weather and allow hikers to build a wood fire.


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Practical information :  

Fishing regulations :

  • Fishing allowed from sunrise to 7 p.m.  
  • Handi-fishing courses and pontoons      
  • Payment at the APPAM hut affiliated to the Ariège de Pêche Federation (cash)  
  • With a fishing card: € 14 / Without fishing card: € 17.90  
  • Children with discovery card: € 5 / Children under 12 without card: € 8.90  
  • Sale of bait and rental of rods on site: 6 € / day + deposit  
  • Number of catches: 10 / day / person - 1 rod authorized  
  • Mesh: 20cm  
  • Maggots prohibited

Contacts:  

  • APPAM: Information on Facebook "Pêche au lac de Bethmale" or on 0561961133  
  • Castillon en Couserans Tourist Office: 0561967264 


Did you like this report? Find others on the Toulouse Pyrenees Guide Blog. We are on social networks, find the Facebook page of the Toulouse Pyrénées Guide and the Instagram account @guidetoulousepyrenees

 

Report and photos produced by Lesley Williamson for the Toulouse Pyrenees Guide


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