The most beautiful villages of Ariège

Le Mas-d'Azil
The most beautiful vi ...

Ariège has many villages classified among the “Most beautiful villages in France”. We offer you an overview of the most remarkable sites. No jealous, we will follow a loop for a discovery of all the territories of Ariège.


Opening photo: AdobeStock Marc Andreu Aulus-les-Bains

Montsegur

We begin our journey by the Porte de l'Ariège and we enter the Cathar country, through a major city of Catharism, Montségur. In a preserved environment, within the regional nature reserve of the Massif du Saint Barthélémy, it is a mountain village where you can feel the harshness of its past. Since prehistoric times, the site has been occupied. Passing through the hands of Romans, Protestants, Catholics and Nazis, its history is tumultuous.

The visit of the castle of Monségur is sporty but it deserves the ascent. The panorama is exceptional. In the village, the historical and archaeological museum will reveal its secrets to you. Many hikes also allow you to enjoy the natural park.

Village of Montsegur Photo: AdobeStock / Arenysam
Montsegur Castle: AdobeStock / Phil-Explos-


camon

Nicknamed the "village of a hundred roses", Camon is truly typical of the region. Strolling through the pretty streets of this fortified village is a real pleasure. The abbey is a jewel that will offer you a refreshing break. Without forgetting its rose garden of course and the dry stone huts that surround it.

Nearby, you can admire the remains of the old Château de Lagarde. Montbel Lake is also worth a little detour. The Mirepoix tourist office offers a guided tour of Camon and its stone huts.

Photo by Lesley Williamson
Photo by Lesley Williamson

Mirepoix

This 14th century bastide has preserved a rich medieval heritage: its squares, its half-timbered houses, its wooden gallery… You will also find the Maison de la Chevalerie and an imposing cathedral there.

In the surroundings, you can visit a bison farm and a bamboo park. All the information is available on the website of the tourist office (fr), which also offers a guided tour of the bastide.

Mirepoix Photo by Lesley Williamson
Mirepoix photo by Lesley Williamson


Saint-Martin-d'Oydes

Saint-Martin-d'Oydes has the particularity of being built on a circular plan. If there are other villages of this type in France, it is unique in Ariège. To appreciate this originality, it is better to take the height and follow the path which dominates it.


Carla Bayle

This Protestant citadel is today a city of the arts. In addition to its many galleries, the village of Carla-Bayle supports the arts through its association: meetings, events, workshops... Its plastic arts festival highlights this beautiful village.

On site you can admire the panorama and the ramparts, and visit the Pierre Bayle museum. Below, Lake Carla-Bayle offers swimming and fishing. To please the children, do not leave the town without having taken advantage of its adventure park, the Sequoia Vertigo, with zip line, treasure hunts and arboretum. For more information, here is the page of the Arize-Leze tourist office (fr).


Le Mas d'Azil

Le Mas-d'Azil is known for its famous cave, an eponymous Azilian site. We go back in time, up to 32,000 years before our era, at the junction between prehistory and history... The site allows you to immerse yourself in the heart of this culture which predates the Neolithic era. But the Mas-d'Azil has experienced many other key moments in history.

Dolmens in particular show its importance during the Bronze Age. It is also a former Protestant bastide, which experienced an epic siege: 14,000 soldiers from Richelieu ended up making this rebellious village give in, but after five interminable weeks!

All visits and activities to do nearby are available at the Arize-Leze tourist office. Do not miss the Xploria park, a forest to go back in time on the animals of yesterday and today. To have your head in the stars, the Observatory of Sabarat organizes evenings and entertainment.

Read our article on the Cave of Mas d'Azil! A real treasure to discover to learn more about the history of our ancestors in this region.


The Cave of Mas d'Azil photo by Ruhier Lionel
The Cave of Mas d'Azil photo by Ruhier Lionel
Mas d'Azil
Mas d'Azil

Saint-Lizier

We enter the Gascon province of Couserans, within the regional natural park of the Ariège Pyrenees. Saint-Lizier is home to a very important religious heritage: cathedral, bishops' palace, parish church, chapel and cloister, which has made its reputation. This city also has a real treasure: the cross and the reliquary bust of the Saint. The tourist office offers a discovery walk.

Also worth visiting: the 18th century pharmacy-museum. For children, there is also a park: Au pays des Traces to spot the traces of animals in nature. And for gourmets, Monségur is made in Saint-Lizier.

Before continuing, take a break for lunch at Chez O'Drey, an unmissable address for a delicious meal. At lunchtime, you can choose from a menu of home-made starters, main courses and desserts, while in the evening, you can choose from an à la carte menu and a slate of authentic, well-balanced dishes. Set against the backdrop of the Pyrenees, just a few minutes from Saint-Lizier, Chez O'Drey uses fresh, local, seasonal produce to delight your taste buds.


Saint Lizier Photo by Lesley Williamson
Saint Lizier photo by Lesley Williamson
Saint-Lizier
Saint-Lizier

seix

Seix is located in an exceptional environment which offers many nature activities: hiking, caving, rafting... Athletes will have a blast! After sport, comfort, the village promises a relaxing walk to discover its castle, its church, its priest's garden and its beautiful houses.

For a more unusual visit, discover the mines. Or for a gourmet break, stop at the Grenier à Jamons.

Six Photo by Pat on Stock


Aulus les Bains

This spa is known for its healing waters. This pastoral village is located in the heart of the Pyrenees mountains, between waterfall and forest. A true haven of peace for nature lovers.

Before leaving Couserans, we invite you to follow us on a gourmet getaway.


Aulus-les-Bains Photos by Marc Andreu / Adobestock

L'Hospitalet-pres-l'Andorre

In Haute Ariège, near Andorra, l'Hospitalet, as its name suggests, is a former refuge. It is a typical mountain village. Located at a geographical crossroads, it is the starting point for many hikes.


L'Hospitalet-near-Andorre
L'Hospitalet-near-Andorre - Source © Cevenol2 CC-BY-SA-2.0

The Bastide of Sérou

To complete the loop… we end with the country of Foix. The Bastide de Sérou promises you a beautiful walk, with the Pyrenees in the background: its tower, its old houses, its church and its hall...

To discover original animals, the Reptile Farm will satisfy the curiosity of young and old alike.


Many other villages are worth a visit. Ariège has such a rich heritage that it is impossible to make an exhaustive selection. The order shown is not chosen based on the beauty or interest of the sites. It corresponds to a loop to offer you a tour of Ariège.


You want to know more? To get to know the territories of Haute Garonne, Ariège and the Pyrenees better, here is our full article. To organize your visits, the website of the Ariège tourist office is at your disposal.


Did you like our article? Find more on our Blog. Follow us on the Guide Toulouse Pyrénées Facebook page and on Instagram @guidetoulousepyrenees.


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