Ariège & French Catalonia
Deep valleys, great smoky mountains, climbing roads, beautiful torrents and lakes. At the end of the road a circus of snowy peaks and a great village of 13 souls ! When you reach the village you can't go farther with the car but there is a charming warm small hotel. Take a rest, as tomorrow will be a hard day of slopes cold waters, and slippery boulders. But you could'nt feel much better than here...
The picturesque old town of Mirepoix
A nice stage to stop before going to the mountains
One of the hotels we use in the Pyrenees
And our guides, coming to pick you up.
A stop at the (spectacular) village's baker....
And we can start climbing...
... and climbing !
Tough holiday ! but on top, the reward is in view in the shape of blue lakes
discovered in unspoiled valleys
A trekking refuge is the only building
This is where we will sleep, so we can leave our bags
And take some forces feasting on Spanish ham, chorizos and cheese...
The landscape is really gorgeous
The efforts are rewarded by a peaceful fishing party
Hungry stomachs, painful legs, good meal, good wines, good jokes, and a lot of laughs. The warm friendly atmosphere of the refuge after the mountain fishing party will remain for ever an unforgettable cheerful memory...
Sleeping at mountain refuges
In the Pyrenees are found prestigious game reservation - Réserve Naturelle- in France. It hosts some of the rarest fauna you could find in France. Falcon, hawk, eagle, isard (local chamois), mufflon, marmotes, mountain grouse, capercailie, vulture (vautour fauve and gypaete barbu) and of course our usual deers and wild-boars. The public is allowed to walk in the reservation and can observe the animals with binoculars and long range cameras. It is not a zoo though ! it requires many efforts to see these animals.
You will find small streams and a huge choice of lakes that you can reach after a hike of 1 to (exactly), 3h15 ! Altitude 1970 m, but the treck presents no difficulty. Fishing can be very nice up there on lake trout and native brook trout. However due to the hike and the fact that the fishing can keep you quite late on the water, it is recommended to only do this if you intend to spend a night on the spot. Locals like fly fishing but lot of them are addicted on trout "au toc". "Au toc", is the particular baitfishing used in mountain streams in France.
There are shelters near the lakes, called refuges. Some are operated as classic (rustique) refuges, others like cheap mountain inns where you find both rooms and dormitories plus excellent good value meals. There is also a nice hotel restaurant in the valley.
Visit also the neighbor page / region of Spanish Catalonia found just "on the other" side of the mountains