The Ariege is steadily building a reputation as one of the best rock climbing destinations in France. With around 2400 routes spread over 50+ crags there is a huge amount on offer all within a relatively small area. Styles cover everything from bouldering and sport climbing to trad, ice, via ferrata and adventurous big mountain routes.
Many of the settings are superb and access is generally straightforward and quick. As well as being covered in the 2012 Ariege Rockfax, Topo’s for much of the Ariège climbing are available as free PDF downloads on the web.
Located centrally in the Pyrenees close to the border with Spain, the weather is pretty good. The south facing crags provide superb winter climbs and there is plenty of shady climbing to avoid the full heat of summer.
A network of over 5000km of waymarked footpaths provide access to a stunning array of landscapes from gentle green valleys, endless forests and jagged snowcapped peaks. Wildlife thrives here, thanks in part, to the endurance of ancient farming practices such as the transhumance when cows and sheep and are led up to the high summer pastures. The area is home to a vast range of flora and fauna including rare wildflowers, eagles and other birds of prey, butterflies, marmots and even the occasional bear.
Outdoor adventure activities are one of the biggest attractions to the area with hiking, rock climbing, mountain and road biking and winter sports particularly popular.
For days off from the action or for those after something a bit more relaxing the Ariège has a rich historic and cultural heritage. From the famous Cathar landmarks and prehistoric cave paintings to a wealth of towns, villages, museums and visitor attractions to discover.
Water is never far away with dramatic mountain streams and crystal clear lakes in the mountains as well as some superb (and warm!) swimming lakes lower down. If you can’t resist a day at the seaside, the Mediterranean coast is only 2 hours away.
For kids and families there are plenty of options particularly in the summer months and the chance to try something adventurous is not to be missed.