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The Couserans

 

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The 18 valleys that make up the western third of Ariège are historically and culturally part of Gascony, while the rest of the departement more closely has closer ties to the Languedoc region.

The Couserans is a land of mountains, foothills, prairies, lakes, waterfalls and forests and is entirely contained within the Parc Naturel Régional (Region Natural Park) of the Ariège Pyrenees.

The town of St-Lizier is celebrated for its Roman art and architecture. Its neighbour, St Girons, is the capital of and gateway to the Couserans.

The Garbet river valley has a unique link to the USA through the bears that used to populate the mountains. Dominated by Mont Valier, exceptionally verdant and slightly less developed touristically than the rest of Ariège, the landscape is extremely varied: from the rolling, agricultural farmland of the Volvestre through the forests and mountain pastures around Castillon, Massat and the upper Salat river to the wild, unspoiled Mont Valier reserve where isards roam. All the mountain sports and outdoor activities mentioned in this site can be done here and all the major tourist attractions in Ariège (prehistoric caves, Cathar castles...) are less than an hour away.

Midway between St Girons and Foix is a lovely area of green, rolling foothills and woodlands called the Séronais of which La Bastide de Sérou is the principal town. An 18-hole golf course draws residents of other areas of the department and beyond, as does the Centre National du Cheval de Mérens, representing the rustic black horse that is native to Ariège. For family outings there is a Reptile Museum (La Ferme des Reptiles) and the subterranean river at Labouiche (the longest navigable one in Europe open to the public) on which you can have a guided tour in a boat.

Many thanks to these photographers

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