Monday, 11 August 2014

L’Ariege and the French Pyrenees Pt 1 July/August 2014

 

A wonderful week staying at Pyrenees Haven in the small hamlet of Perles, a short distance from Ax Les Therme in the Vallée de l'Ariège.  Our hosts Debbie and Gary provide a warm welcome with extensive local knowledge, wonderful food and comfortable accommodation at their aptly named Guest House.

The area on the eastern side of the French Pyrenees, is awash with prehistoric interest: it's home to some of Europe’s most impressive underground rivers and subterranean caverns, many of which contain the cave paintings left behind by prehistoric people.  For us though, the attractions were the mountains and here’s where the local knowledge provided by our hosts was invaluable, along with the maps and guides to ensure the day matched our expectations.  Having hired a car we wanted to get a feel for the region and culture as well as getting to some high summits – there’s so much to go back to, not least as the Tour de France is an annual feature on the high cols all around the area.  A few pics to give a flavour of our week Smile

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Landing in Toulouse before collecting the car for the drive down to L’Ariege below the Pyrenees

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Our first day was a walk from the village up into the mountains passing through historical villages with Romanesque churches that extend back in time to the middle ages

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We’re used to seeing these wash houses in the mountains of Mallorca and most of the villages we passed through have their own versions

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The mediaeval village of Axiat was an important centre with its ruined corn mill on a strategic location on the river

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Lordat with it’s Chateau on a lofty crag

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Atmospheric conditions cleared to blue skies

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Looking across at the Alpine chalets

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An early start on Sunday into Andorra for a mountain race with Gary (centre) and Rob Jebb (Left) who had to settle for a narrow second place from an in form local runner

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Up on the Col D’Ordino a magnet for walkers, mountaineers

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and of course, cyclists

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Looking down to the village of Ordino from the Col

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Art installation on the way back from Andorra

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and the final – door back into France from Andorra another cycling hotspot familiar to fans of Le Tour

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We got to know the small spa town of Ax Les Thermes quite well during our week’s stay, usually finishing off our day with a beer in the Square, and of course a visit to the

Chocalatier! above, where madame was always welcoming

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Monsieur having a little rest at the busy market on Saturday

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The hot natural thermal pools in the town were a popular spot for young

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and (not so) old!

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Street entertainment of a high quality

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We resisted a ride on the ski lift in an effort to burn off some of the calories from Debbie’s irresistible cooking

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At the end of the day and safe under the awning of the bar a heavy downpour made everyone run for shelter

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Before the sun shone again on the church

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