The Tour du Biros is a country hiking trail (GRP). This route takes sections of the GR10 and allows a gentle initiation into the practice of hiking in the Pyrenees, taking advantage of the magnificent landscapes of Ariège and astonishing discoveries linked to the mining history of the region.
We went for a three day weekend to do this hike, but you can opt for an extended version of 5 days of walking in the Ariège mountains. Accessible for beginner hikers, and for teenagers, however, it requires taking the classic precautions for walking in the mountains (do not leave too late, be well shod and equipped, etc.).
In a few words
Distance covered in 3 days: 35km
Positive elevation: about 2300m
Difficulty: a few dizzying passages and a climb to the rather steep Araing pond, but nothing insurmountable for beginners.
We arrive on Friday evening at Eylie's gîte, above the village of Sentein. After a hot cassoulet, we return to the dormitories of the lodging to spend our first night in Ariège.
- Anglade car park (815m) - Araing pond refuge (1965m)
- Distance: 9km
- Average duration: 3h30 - 4h passing by the chapel of the Izard
- Elevation: D + 1100m
The next day, having breakfast in the pouring rain, we decided to postpone our departure to the Araing pond by a few hours. We take advantage of this setback to discuss the mining site with Claude.
Claude has been a caretaker at Eylie's gîte for 40 years. With Nelly, he welcomes hikers from the Pyrenees all season long. Author of several books on the heritage of the Biros valley, he provides us with a wealth of information on the remains that we will meet on our way.
Suddenly, a clearing decides us to leave. Taking advantage of magnificent skies, we will spend the rest of the day between the drops. In the direction of the Araing pond, we follow a stream after passing pastoral barns typical of the region. With the help of autumn, the path, covered with fallen leaves, gives an air of an enchanted walk at the start of the hike. Arrived at a first intersection, we decide to take the bridge on the right to have a picnic at the chapel of the Izard. You can also take the left path if you want to get to the refuge more quickly. The chapel is charming, the view magnificent and the tabbouleh prepared by Nelly delicious.
After the meal, the slope becomes steep and we walk more slowly to the foot of the dam. All in stones, the mountains rising above it, it is spectacular.
The higher you go, the more the landscapes turn yellow. When we arrive at the refuge, Anoura is bottling her blueberry wine.
Anoura has been holding the Araing pond refuge for twenty years. A cook by training, he makes himself, with plants collected by hand, the macerated wines, liqueurs and ice cream that can be tasted at the refuge.
- Refuge of the Araing pond (1965m) - Gîte d'Eilye (1000m)
- Distance: 9km
- Average duration: 3h30 + 30 min for the return trip to the peak of Har
- Elevation: + 300m (+ 200m for the peak of Har) -1230m
Breakfast taken, picnics recovered, we set off again towards the dam, but instead of going down to the valley, we cross the ridge opposite which will bring us to the Bentaillou mining site. We go up to Har peak in the mist but once at the top, the clouds get stuck in the south face and the view of the pond and the ridges is incredible.
During the descent towards the mines, in the middle of yellowed grasses and walls of black rocks, the site of Bentaillou is revealed. As one of the largest mining sites in Ariège and the Pyrenees, it operated between the circles of the XIXe and XXe century. In order to extract the lead and zinc that brought life to the region at the start of the XNUMXth centurye century, more than 300 miners remained in barracks.
After a quick exploration of the site (be careful, it is not secure), while we follow the path below the barracks, a dog bark stops us. A patou keeps a flock of sheep, spread out in the middle of the road. With the two dogs, we prefer to go around the keeper, who does not seem playful, by taking a path a little lower. The rest of the hike goes smoothly, and a few minutes later we leave the mountain level to find ourselves in the middle of autumn-colored woods.
Arrived at the lodge, Nelly prepares an apple crumble, a specialty of Ariège. The friends go back to the Hautes-Pyrénées and we debrieffons with Claude on the old mining operations.
- Gîte d'Eylie (1000m) - Relais montagnard de Bonac (700m)
- Distance: 13km
- Average duration: 5h30
- Elevation: + 740m -950m
Today, we finish our Pyrenean hike with a more forest stage, with little difference in height. At sunrise, we start our progression towards the mountain relay of Bonac by taking the GR10E. Two bridges crossed, the view towards the center of sorting of Eylie is revealed on our left between two clouds. We enter the forest, from which we will not come out until an hour later, delighted, with a bag full of mushrooms.
The path is then covered with ferns and heather, before the fog surrounds us. The thick mist surrounds us several kilometers, until the last forest, which descends towards the village. The path, widened and covered with a carpet of orange leaves, makes the atmosphere magical.
At the entrance of the pretty village of Bonac, we pass to the right of the virgin to join the mountain relay. In this former rectory, Sylvain, Max and Eleonore, assisted by a woofer, house and feed hikers. They also provide meals for the canteen in the village of Sentein and organize concerts once or twice a week in season. A small grocery store, as well as Antoine's advice, can help hikers.
On the road to the Hautes-Pyrénées, the bakery on the right at the entrance to the village of Castillon supplies us with croustades, a local specialty.
A few hours and a hot shower later, I'm going to prepare tonight's menu: fried mushroom stems, chanterelles, sautéed mutton trotters, boletus head omelets, and blueberry crumble.