The 4 regions of Ariège

When my husband and I settled in Ariège with our two children in 1994, I quickly realised that no one we knew had heard of this beautiful region of the Pyrenees. Even the French hadn’t heard of it. In 1996, the the very beginning of the internet in France, it was clear to me that Ariège needed, indeed deserved, a web site about it. At that time there was no local or even national internet provider so I had to drive 90 minutes to Toulouse to visit a cybercafé and learn how the web worked. When a company called Cap Media in Varilhes began offering connections at local phone rates, we bought a modem and sent away for floppy disks of Netscape Navigator so we could have a connection from home. A few months later I bought the domain name and in 1997 put online a little site in English. Then a Friend helped me make a French version. I gave some advertising pages to people I knew who ran bed and breakfasts, hotels and holiday rentals in the Couserans area where we live, all the while expanding the site. One day I received an email from the young owner of a hotel in St-Girons, Paul Fontvieille of La Clairière, asking how much it cost to advertise on So in 2000 Yvelise Tschierschke, a gîte owner who had been helping with the site, and I started a small company, SNC ARIEGE.COM.

The web has evolved enormously since 2000 and for many years the departmental tourism agency has been running its own comprehensive site to promote tourism in Ariège. When Yvelise decided she would retire at the end of 2017 I saw an opportunity to take the site in a different direction. We closed the business and now I’m focusing not on tourism but life in Ariège. Over the past 20 years I’ve met so many people here who have fascinating stories about their lives in this part of the Pyrenees. I want to share them.

For the first six months of 2018 the site will change very little. I have a long list of people I’d like to interview and I hope to have as a collaborator a photographer friend who has produced portraits of many of the inhabitants of her valley. By the end of this year the site will be completely transformed. At the same time I intend to continue to create web sites for businesses and associations on a freelance basis.

-- Kim Chevalier

With the Mont Béas reflected on its luminous surface, the étang de Lers is a favourite destination, both winter and summer, for those in search of peace and quiet and unspoiled nature.


From June through September the hills around the lake are the summer pastures for cows and Mérens horses. A bit higher up is a launching site for paragliders; from the lake you will often see the colourful sails overhead.

From May 1st to the end of the September you can fish for trout in the lake — on Wednesdays, weekends and public holidays during May and every day for the other months. Fishing permits can be purchased on site.

Domaine nordique étang de LersIn winter the site is a cross-country ski domain with 25 km of pistes, 3 pistes totalling 24 km for snowshoeing and a sledging area for children. Skis, snowshoes and sledges can be hired on site.

The restaurant overlooking the lake is open most of the year.

The lake is famous among geologists because of the presence of lherzolite, a rock normally found only under the earth’s crust. This is one of only two sites in the world where lherzolite can be found on the surface — the rock was named for the lake, which used to be spelled Lherz.

tourThis elegant nineteenth century bourgeois mansion, two minutes by foot from the town centre, is situated on 2.5 hectares of grounds. It has been fully restored with taste and refinement. Each of the ten bedrooms, of which four are suites and two are "prestige" rooms named for great French writers, has its own unique charm.

The traditional rooms have retained their period allure while fitted with modern comforts.

The little salon in the winter garden, the covered terrace, the bathrooms installed in the towers of the chateau, bring to the traditional suites a special ambience. Contemporary, light and spacious, the "prestige" rooms each have their own private solarium terrace.

fleursIn the south-facing rose garden the pool, BBQ and garden furniture complete the exceptional atmosphere of relaxation and wellbeing.

The spa, which has been built into what were once the chateau's stables, provide unforgettable moments of relaxation with its hammam and bath infused with donkey milk.

The pleasures of the table at the Auberge d'Antan :
In the setting of an authentic Gascon auberge next to the château, you'll rediscover the flavours of yesteryear in the cuisine prepared over an open fire.

For our prices, please visit our site

In early June, the herd departs for the "transhumance" when they are led up to the summer pastures in the high mountains at 2000 m altitude. They will be left there in total liberty for 5 months, during which time the foals will acquire the rusticity and robust health that characterises the Mérens breed.

estiveAt 2 years old, the colts and fillies are broken for the saddle and the harness with a view to their future use but also for presentation in the famous Mérens competition : the concours de Bouan. Numerous supreme champions are born of our breeding farm: Narcisse Castelmir, Chico de Sié, Fennec de Sié, Isatis de Siét, etc.

Our type of Mérens horse:

We strive to keep the characteristics that have made the Mérens successful: rusticity, resistance, versatility--but also to develop the qualities that are indespensable for a good leisure horse: size, impetus, aptitude for work, easy character.

Our type of dressage:

Gentle dressage. From the moment of birth, the colts and fillies are raised in the herd and in freedom so that they benefit from social life, hierarchy and play. But they are brought in very regularly for training sessions where they acquire the classical basics of education and equitation. Our dressage centre, certified by the SHERPA, has operated for over 20 years and we train about 30 horses per year thanks to the skills of an experience agro-engineer leader and a professional rider.

By virtue of our selection and our breeding programme, our horses destined for sale are very balanced and particularly sure for outdoor riding and as well as the harness because they are "active yet calm".

A high-altitude restaurant on the Col d’Escots, Guzet ski station.

Chalet de Beauregard

The "Chalet de Beauregard" offers in this high altitude setting a mountain cuisine with Ariège flavours.

The chalet has modern décor and is organised around a large dining room with a fireplace and a south-facing terrace. The panorama over the Ariège mountains is quite exceptional.

spoonThe interior decoration recreates the decor of a chalet, with antique objects that recall our mountains' history: old skis, wooden kitchen utensils, straw animals... The table settings are traditional, with checkered tablecoths, stonware, wood platters and typical pyreneen knives...

Outside the timber-clad chalet you can relax on the terrace wrapped in a cozy blanket with a cup of hot tea, chocolate or mulled wine, your face turned to the sun.

As at the Auberge d'Antan, where a return to the past is guaranteed with a decor from yesteryear, Paul Fontvieille gives this new construction an allure of Pyreneen chalet.


As for the cuisine, you'll find up here the favourites from down below: a traditional Ariège vegetable soup is followed by dishes such as trout pâté and salmon with shrimp, locally-raised lamb stew with wild mushrooms, millas with flambéd apple.

gdf3cloches2The gîte was created in 2008 in the former presbytery in the little hamlet of Liers, situated next to a charming church at 900 m elevation and 6 km from Massat. Constructed in the 19th century, twenty or so priests occupied the residence unitl 1917 when the faithful of the parish numbered about one thousand. Since then the rural exodus reduced the population to a tenth of that number.

From the gîte, you can enjoy the superb mountainscape and numerous walks of varying degrees of challenge and in all seasons. The valley maintains a strong tradition of conviviality and hospitality.

In the vicinity you can enjoy:
- Horseriding 7 kms away
- Tennis 6 kms away
- Cross-country skiing at the Etang de Lers, 20 kms
- Mountain biking, walking, cycle touring (bike hire available in Massat)
- Fishing on site

tableThe 140 m2 gîte comprises:
On the ground floor
- entrance hall
- separate wc
- living room with fireplace, soft furnishings, buffet, TV with DVD player
- utility room with clothes washer
- kitchen with electric hob, microwave oven, electric oven and dishwasher

On the first floor:
- 1 bedroom with 2 single beds
- 1 bedroom with 4 single beds
- 1 bedroom with a 140 cm double bed and a TV antenna hookup
- bathroom with shower and sink
- bathroom with bathtub and sink
- separate wc

Outside is a open courtyard, a car park and a covered terrace with garden furniture and barbeque.


Peak Season : 663 €
High Season : 632 €
Middle Season : 510 €
Winter : 530 €
Low Season : 428 €

Weekend : 286 €

- 5% discount for rentals of 3 weeks or more
- pets admitted with excharge charge plus deposit against damages
- sheet and towel hire and end of stay cleaning available
- baby equipment avaialble (cot, bath, potty, high chair, gates)
-Electric heat. Rental includes 15 kw/day of electricity and enough wood for one fire in the fireplace
- Personalised reception by trilingual hostess.

To book the gîte, please contact the reservation service (English spoken) at

Tel : (33) 05 61 02 30 80 or by This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and specify gîte n° SR0068


Many thanks to these photographers

About us

From 2000 to the end of 2017 was a site devoted to tourism in the department of Ariège. The small company that managed it closed on 31 December 2017 and 2018 will be a year of transition. Read more…