The Pyrenees

Bourg de Mat is located in the eastern part of the Pyrenees, the mountain range on the border of France and Spain. In the foothills of the Pyrenees, at about 500 meters altitude and about 8 km west of Foix, somewhat hidden back of the valley, you find Bourg de Mat, bed and breakfast. Traversed bij the river Arget, you rear flowing past Bourg de Mat at about 50 meters, the barguillere valley is one of the most beautiful valleys of Ariege. Spacious, sunny and accesible the whole year round. Since 2009 this part of the Pyrenees is declared a regional nature reserve.

Throughout the valley you will find hiking trails, and small quiet roads, linking the hamlets and villages, while around you the mountain pastures and rocky ridges dominate the views. Literally from Bourg de Mat’s doorstep you can embark on a variety of walks on your leisure through the valley or leading up to the high mountains on your way to connect to one of the Grande Randonnées (such as the GR10). Nelly and Marcel your hosts, are happy to assist you in determining your routes. The whole area is in both summer and winter a paradise for a variety of activities and (outdoor) sports. Some examples: hiking, horseback riding, mountain / rock climbing, paragliding, rafting, caving, canyoning, cycling and mountain biking. Its sheltered location and proximity to the mediterranean sea, make the climate in the Ariege in general and in particular Bourg de Mat a superb place to relax for a few days in any season.

Thermal baths

Ariege, thanks to its geographic location and geology of the Pyrenees hosts a particular phenomenon within its borders. In several places you find hotsprings. Three of them are at the moment (2011) exploited as a thermal spa resort. Here are some details and properties of these hot springs. The healing power of thess is already known for many centuries, and in France, as in many other countries where these sources occur, taken very seriously, and the thermal baths are frequently visited. In many cases, a visit even fully reimbursed by health insurance.

Les Bains du Couloubret in Ax les Thermes

This ancient Roman bath house has been since a couple of years been transformed in a hot water paradise. Apart from various indoor and outdoor pools, whirlpools, steambaths and sauna, this complex offers therapeutical properties in particular against rheumatic diseases and respiratory problems.

Les Thermes d’Aulus les Bains

The thermal water of Aulus les Bains has a beneficial effect on metabolic diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol, and obesity, as well as problems with the urinary tract.

Ussat les Bains

The water of Ussat les Bains is officially recognized as beneficial for psychosomatic disorders caused by stress as well as being beneficial to the impact of neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease.


The Ariege is situated in the center of various influences, in the east, the Languedoc, Gascony in the west and the mountains in the south with, behind them, Spain. Culinary, there is also a fusion of different influences. Although the original dishes are pretty rustic, the origin of the ingredients is local. So always fresh and of high quality. The mountains have encouraged cheese production and the plains lend themselves to farming, many ducks and goose fattening farms are preent, the basis for foie gras and confit de canard. In fall people head out into the forests looking for mushrooms. There is a strong tradition in which every family fattened a pig with leftovers from the kitchen and garden waste. In winter, the pig would be slaughtered at ‘la fête du cochon « and processed into various types of hams, fresh and dry sausages and pates. The numerous streams and rivers offer a perfect environment for trout, making this area a paradise for fishermen.

Some typical dishes of the Ariege are Azinat, Garbure, Rouzolles and last but not least Mounjetado. You can find recipes on a different part of the site. As for wine, the Ariege is renewing itself. Commercial vineyards have re-emerged since a few years, especially the organic winery Coteaux d’Engraviès succeeds well in producing ever better wines. The larger region has considerably more choice, you certainly know the Minervois, the Corbeires and perhaps the Fronton, the Madiran, Gaillac and Jurançon. These areas without exception produce very good wines and are merit of a visit during a day trip from Bourg de Mat.

Calendar of markets in the region

Wintersports, snowfun and skiing

Much of the department of Ariege is situated in the high mountains of the Pyrenees. These have allowed for a dozen or so ski resorts. The varied mountainlandscapes of the Pyrenees allows for everyone to find a piste to their liking. Both beginners and thrillseeking freestyler, the Pyrenees pistes give them their money’s worth. So-called snowshoeing (raquettes) is another way to explore the winter landscapes of the Pyrenees. Nelly and Marcel, your hosts, are happy to help you when planning your route or find stores where you can rent the necessary equipment.


The people of Toulouse may perhaps think differently about it, but the Ariege has lots of culture. You enter in the footsteps of the Cathars, on your way to ruined castles like Roquefixade and Montsegur. Rennes le chateau, and its mystery, known from the book The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown, is not far from here. However, there are much older cultural treasures to be found in the Ariege Pyrenees. Think of the countless caves, Niaux gained world fame with its prehitorische rock art. But Le Mas d’Azil, Bédeilhac, and the cave at Lombrives are just as interesting to visit. The underground river of Labouiche is a highlight for many visitors to the area. The passage of the Tour de France in July of each summer, is an unparalleled worldclass cycling event.


Soaring with the eagles is a real possibility in the Ariege. Since late 2007, Marcel was struck by the parapente (paragliding) virus. He knows several takeoff and landigzones for this peaceful form of aviation. The nearest: Prat d’Albis at only about 10 km from Bourg de Mat. In collaboration with a official paragliding school Bourg de Mat offers you the opportunity, in less than one week, to do a complete paragliding course including your first solo flights. You can also get acquainted with this sport in a more relaxed way by taking a so called tandem flight, where you fly together with an accomplished pilot under a wing. The microclimate makes almost year-round flying possible.

Maps, walking guides and books

Nelly and Marcel have, apart from their personal knowledge of the local hiking trails, an extensive collection of maps and detailed topografic maps of the entire region. All this information is at your disposal to help you determine your schedule and make the most of your visit to the Ariege Pyrenees.