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The Tour de France is often decided in the spectacular mountain stages of the Pyrenees. However for those who enjoy an easier ride, Ariège also has much to offer as most of the interesting places to visit lie along the river valleys, where the slopes are gentle. Mountain-biking, or VTT (vélo tout-terrain), is also very popular here and many tracks have been created and adapted for all levels. Two long bike paths between major towns have been created on top of former railway lines.

 

"La Voie Verte" bike path between Foix and St Girons

42 km bike path created on a former railway line

Voie verte St Girons à FoixThis magnificent paved bike path between Vernajoul (3 km from Foix) and Saint Girons was completed in 2012 following 4 years of work. The security is excellent, with underground passages for crossing the D117 artery between Foix and St Girons. The path isn’t perfectly flat all the way, but the slopes are very gentle and regular.

The east to west section, at the foot of the Pyrenees, is shaded at the start and then open in the valley, offering magnificent views until La Bastide de Sérou. After that the Voie Verte follows a pretty valley then climbs slightly with two tunnels before descending gently into a green valley.

Towns and villages crossed or passing nearby: Vernajoul, Labouiche (Baulou), Baulou, Cadarcet, La Bastide-de-Sérou, Aire du Ségalas (Durban-sur-Arize), Castelnau-Durban, Gare de Rimont (Rimont), Gare de Lescure (Lescure), Pont de Lort (Lescure), Chemin de Serres (Saint-Girons)

  

"La Voie Verte" between Lavelanet and Mirepoix

38 km bike path created on a former railway line

Located in the eastern end of the department in the Pays d’Olmes/Cathar Pyrenees area, the former railway line between Lavelanet and Mirepoix transported passengers, mail and merchandise between 1903 and 1971. As it was a major textile-producing area, the path is also called “le chemin des filatiers.”

The itinerary is an easy one and passed by several villages: Dreulhe, Laroque-d’Olmes La Bastide-sur-l’Hers, Le Peyrat, Ste-Comobe-sur-l’Hers, Chalabre, Sonnac-sur-l’Hers, Camon, Tréziers, Lagarde, Moulin-Neuf, Roumengoux


Guzet Mountain Bike Park

Guzet Mountain Bike ParkDescent from the Guzet ski resort

Bike rentals and ticket purchase at the Tourist Office in Seix. Riders brought to the top by 4x4.

- 7 tracks: 2 green, 2 blue, 1 red, 1 black, 1 double black
- 1 initiation zone
- 1 Northshore zone
- 3 descent itineraries
1 green track
1 blue track
1 marathon descent track (black track)
- shuttle between Sérac d’Ustou and Guzet by reservation

Open July and August and weekends in September >> WATCH A CLIP <<


Annual cycling events in Ariège

MAY
The Ronde de l'Isard - 
This five day race is open to riders between 19 and 22 years old at a level of Elite 2 national standard. The race consists of a prologue, one individual time trial, one afternoon stage and 3 full-day stages.

JUNE
Cyclosportive l'Ariégeoise 
- Every summer in June the Ariège Organisation Cycliste organizes a non-competitive race starting in Tarascon that features routes for different levels of ability. For more information, visit the web site (in French and Spanish): www.cyclosport-ariegeoise.com

JULY

Tour de France
The TdF passes through Ariège nearly every year. 2017 edition: 14 July, stage 13, 100% Ariege. 100km, Start in St Girons, visiting Seix, the col de Latrape, Aulus-les-Bains, the Col d'Agnes, Massat, the 'wall' of Péguère and finishing in Foix. See www.letour.fr

SEPTEMBER
Mémorial Fabio Casartelli
 - In 1995 St. Girons was the starting point for one of the stages of the Tour de France. Less than two hours later, at the col du Portet d'Aspet, the Italian rider Fabio Casartelli was fatally injured in a fall.
Since 1997 the cycling association of the has Couserans organised each summer or autuman a cycling event in his memory. The entrance fees go to a fund established by the Casartelli family in aid of professional cyclists injured in falls. You can find more information here: www.cyclosportive-la-casartelli.fr.

Many thanks to these photographers

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