The department is part of the current region of Midi-Pyrénées and is surrounded by the French departments of Haute-Garonne, Aude, and Pyrénées-Orientales, as well as Spain and Andorra on the south.
The geography is dominated by the Pyrenees mountains, which form the border between France and Spain. There are hundreds of miles of well-marked paths which allow exploration of the magnificent Pyrenees mountains. The high mountains are easily accessible via good roads, cable cars or by foot. There are a number of lodges providing high level mountain accommodation that are comfortable, warm and with good meals.
There are also a number of fresh water lakes which provide a variety of activities including, walking, swimming, fishing, canoeing, sailboarding and picnicking.
The Ariege has several of its own downhill ski resorts, the three largest being Ax-Bonascre, Les Monts D'Olmes and Guzet-Neige. There are many cross country ski-ing resorts, one of the best being at Plateau de Beille, near Les Cabannes.
The Pyrenees mountain range forms a fantastic backdrop to the entire Ariège Department, rising some 10,000 feet (3000m) in the Montcalm Massif, along the border with Andorra and Spain. The highest peaks are clearly visible visible from Toulouse in the Haute Garonne. It is one of the least populated and most unspoiled regions of France. The locals enjoy keeping traditions alive, especially old farming techniques. Consequently, as fewer insecticides, for example, have been used, the flora and fauna of the area continue to be rich in both diversity and numbers. Butterflies are common and birds are numerous; particularly noticeable are large birds of prey, including the magnificent Griffon vultures.
There are also many unspoiled villages and hamlets tucked away in the valleys close to the department's border with Spain – Seix, Cominac and Aulus Les Bain are examples – together with picturesque mountain villages, most notably Aleu which comes alive in the holiday season.
Read more about this topic: Ariège
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