Couserans en Ariège
Its amazingly well preserved natural environment, ranging in altitude from 463 to 2865 metres, awaits discovery. Nature is particularly pristine in the Haut-Couserans with an abundance of natural spots such as waterfalls, geological cirques and wild valleys.
The canton of Massat is a mountain-land between peaks and rivers, summer barns and traditional villages. The col de Port, col de la Crouzette, col de Saraillé, Port de l’Hers and col de Portel encircle it and act as links to the other valleys of the departement. It is due to these that the natural habitat has been protected.
Things to see and do besides cycling and hiking are numerous.
Cathar Sites and castles: Foix – the medieval construction of this castle has been perfectly preserved, Montségur – known as a high seat of catharism, chateau of Montségur sits on top of a rocky outcropping at 1207m elevation, Usson, Roquefixade, Miglos, Montaillou.
Caves: Niaux – famous for wall drawings, Lombrives – largest cave in Europe, Mas d’Azil – only cave in Ariège with a road going through, Bedeilhac – typical large Pyrenean cave, La Vache – smallest of the caves open to the public, Labouiche – subterranean river with little boats.
Beautiful Villages: Seix – typical Ariège mountain village, Foix – medieval castle which dominates the town, Saint-Lizier – medieval capital of the Couserans, listed as one of the most beautiful villages of France, Mirepoix – medieval bastide town in Cathar country, Carla-Bayle – former fortified citadel, now known for its active artists community.
Markets: Saint-Girons – famous for its Saturday morning market, best market in the area, nice to combine with adjacent medieval town Saint-Lizier, Foix – big market every Friday morning, Massat/Seix/Tarascon – all little villages have their own market days usually twice a month.
Thermal Spas: Ax-les -Thermes – big recreational thermal spa complex with baths, sauna, hammam, etc. Aulus-les-Bains – small thermal spa, recreational but also for cures. Ussat-les-Bains – thermal facility mainly for cures.