Grotte de Niaux is one of Europe’s most impressive Palaeolithic rock art galleries of cave paintings.
Grottes de Lombrive – This isn’t one cave but network of immense chambers and long galleries. It is the biggest accessible cave in Europe in terms of volume and is mentioned in the Guinness Book of Records.
Grotte de Bedeilhac – A gigantic decorated prehistoric cave 1 km long
Grotte du Mas D’Asil – this is a drive through cave with a visitors centre. There is a picnic area outside the cave and of course walking through is an option. Not only is the cave worth seeing but the circular route there and back is a lovely drive.
Underground river of Labouiche – take a boat trip almost a mile long underground. Well worth a visit but perhaps best to make a reservation. Usually open April to November depending on water height.
Take a gentle cycle along country roads or off road cycle routes. Go mountain biking on the ski slopes in summer. Test yourself on some of the Tour de France famous Pyreneen climbs or cols. Bring your own bikes or hire locally.
Mountain biking on the ski slopes:
There are numerous rivers and lakes for fishing. Permits can be bought from the local tabac.
The closest golf course is at La Bastide de Serou, about 26 miles distant. It is a popular course with great scenery. Club hire available
There is also a golf course at Carcassone, about 35 miles.
There is an Karting circuit at Aigues-Vives, (12 miles), which is home to regional, national and international racing. It is open to adults and children from 7 years old upwards.
There are 2 ski centres closeby.
Ax 3 domaines at Ax-les-Thermes can be reached by car or train.
The ski station at Mont D’Olmes can be reached by car or, at weekends and local school holidays, by bus from Mirepoix. http://www.montsdolmes.com/
In need of an adrenalin rush? How about a tandem jump from 4000 metres? Or, if you are an experienced skydiver, bring your licence and log book and jump in sight of the Pyrenees. The skydive club is at Les Pujols, only 7 miles from Le Cazal and one of the friendliest (and cheapest) in France. Advance booking is recommended.
Swimming & Beaches
The Ariege is full of rivers and lakes, easily accessible for a cooling dip. In the rivers, check first that there is no hydropower barrage upstream. There are several lakes perfect for swimming nearby, Lac Montbel, Lac de Mondelay, Base Nautique Mercus, Lac du Carla Bayle and Lac de la Cavayere near Carcassonne.
The Mediterranean can be reached in 80 minutes by car.
Treetop trails for all ages and all levels are within easy reach. Enjoy an adventure which will give you a natural high.
Walking and Hiking
There is plenty of scope for walking, starting at your front door. Further afield, I cannot recommend highly enough, a walk in the Pyrenees. This can be as gentle or strenuous as you choose. Visit the local tourist offices for advice and maps for suitable routes for the season. My favourite is the Pic des trois seigneurs and L’Etang Bleu. It is not the highest but the views are fantastic. Even just the first small section as far as the bridge over the river is worth the visit. To do the whole circuit, start early as it will take 6 hours plus and is strenuous. Ensure that you have at least trainers in good weather and carry water. Guard against sunburn.
Water sports are popular in Ariege as it is an area brimming with rivers and lakes. There are a few links below for various activities. Best to book early.
Canoeing and rafting Vernet d’Ariege http://www.canoe-rafting-ariege.com/infoactivites/le-canoe/
Canoeing, rafting, kayaking Foix http://www.rockandrollrafting.com/en/
Caving and canyoning Auzat http://cavernecanyon.com/
Canoe Kayak Mirepoix Montbel http://canoe-kayak-ariege.fr/
Canoeing, rafting, canyoning, kayak, climbing, accrobranche http://www.caminariegepyrenees.com/
Teleski, stand up paddle, pedalo Mercus http://www.basenautiquemercus.fr/public/?code=l-espace-detente
Various water sports Lac Montbel http://www.tourisme-mirepoix.com/?Lac-de-Montbel-281