This project has been tickling my calves for a long time because I loooooooove mountain biking! 5 days of riding from the Ariège Pyrenees to the Couserans with the Pyrenees in the background, it really makes you want it! I had never tried the experience of roaming over 5 days on the Grande Traversée VTT, so I suggested doing this trip with several friends. They all said yes! Usually I ride muscular (read: non-electric) but for 5 days, I wanted to test electric.


  • Labeled: French cycling federation
  • Total mileage: 203 km
  • Departure: Ax-les-Thermes – Arrival: Saint-Lizier
  • Estimated time : between 4 and 5 days
  • Positive cumulative elevation gain: 4 165m  
  • Negative cumulative height difference: 5 047m
  • FFC specific markings and signage red markings
  • Level of difficulty : 3/5 – Advanced or intermediate mountain bikers
  • Favorable period: from June to the end of September – From April to May, snow cover can make certain portions tricky, notably the first 3 stages. However, you must always take into account the variability of weather conditions by being well equipped and adapting your itinerary.


Every day we were able to ride some really great lines! Here is a little top of the best spots for each stage:

  • Step 1 – Ax les Thermes – Comus: the descent of Chioula to reach the Prades forest is great, the path is smooth, winding, fun in the forest, a single track as we love them so much! Pure happiness 😍
  • Step 2 – Comus – Mirepoix: It’s very difficult to choose! This step is really crazy! The gorges of the Frau are really grandiose, it's very stony technique in a pretty crazy atmosphere with cliffs on either side of the trail, I LOVED it! Descents before and after the castle of Montségur are also really great: winding, single-track, guaranteed fun.    
    And the Montbel lake tour that I am starting to know well is still one of my “top ones”.
  • Stage 3 – Mirepoix – Pamiers: the section between Mirepoix et Detachment is very fun with a breathtaking view from the orientation table from the Tabariane site, until the end of the route.
  • Stage 4 Pamiers – Le Mas d’Azil: Between Montégut Plantaurel and Pailhès: it’s a treat! A single track in the forest with some descent, just perfect for having fun! Between Pailhès and Gabre we find a stony and technical path that is always pleasant but demanding, I am a big fan of that too! I like it when it's technical and we have to concentrate when piloting our mount!
  • Stage Le Mas d’Azil – Saint-Lizier: Between Clermont and Lescure there are small, playful sections allowing you to conclude the trip with the Pyrenees still in the background. Besides, it's just magical to ride with the lord of Couserans (the summit of Valier) permanently by our side!
Panorama of the Pyrenees chain at Teilhet ©Acrofilm

Breathtaking panoramas 😍

As I said, the Pyrenees are always in the background on this route! From the beginning starting from Ax: during the stroller (the climb!) to reach the Chioula we see the Quié cliffs : it’s just crazy! At Chioula we also have a 360° view, we don't know where to turn, even in cloudy weather, which was our case.

The panorama of the Montségur castle after passing the pass is quite unusual. We are not used to seeing the castle from this angle, I really enjoyed discovering this hidden face of Montségur.

From the Montbel nautical base, the view in the foreground of the turquoise waters of the lake with the Pyrenees in the background is just crazy! Moreover, she invited us to take a little nap in the sun on this very sporty second stage.

A place that I particularly loved is the Tabariane orientation table. We have a breathtaking view of the Pyrenees: from the Tabe massif to the Couserans mountains. Wow wow!

When we approach Pamiers shortly before the Pont du Crieu we also have a beautiful panoramic view of the Tabe massif with Mount Fourcat in the foreground, I really liked this corner.

After Saint Victor Rouzaud and Lescure the panoramas on the chain pass constantly. We get used to admiring the Pyrenees... but quickly anyway, let's not forget that we are there to ride 😉 hahaha!

But the real fireworks, the finale: it's the arrival in St Lizier! We go up to the Bishops' Palace and stand on the small wall to admire the incredible view of the cathedral in the foreground, and still the Pyrenees mountain range in the background.

Arrival in Saint-Lizier, breathtaking panorama 🙂 ©Acrofilm

Some practical tips

Ariège has a train line linking Toulouse to Latour de Carol, ultra practical for this trip!
The GT VTT passes several stage points, notably in Pamiers and Ax les Thermes, but the little detail that is worth its weight in gold is that, in addition, on this line, we can rent e-MTBs in Tarascon-Sur-Ariège, in the village of Les Cabannes, in Ax les thermes !

Other important information : a Voie verte road bike links Boussens to Saint Girons and Saint Girons to Foix. This allows you to finish the 5 days either by returning to the station in Foix or Boussens.

We can therefore organize this roaming by relying on stations, greenways, and rental companies... in short, without using the car 😉

Le Petit Plateau

The Little Plateau

Location de vélo Vélomondo

Vélomondo bike rental

Cycle & Vous

Cycle & You

Accommodators and tourist offices welcome you on the stages

During our trip we chose Accommodation labeled Accueil Vélo, to be certain that our e-MTBs are in safe and secure locations. It was also important to have accommodation where we could clean and recharge our bikes.
In the morning we left quite early both to enjoy the freshness and beautiful light of dawn, fortunately the Accueil vélo hosts offer early breakfast. In Comus, we really enjoyed sleeping in the tents/teepees of the Midday silence, which also has a well-suited bike room and a great area dedicated to cleaning bikes. Ellen & Gunther are so helpful, their property is really calming after the first day. We took the opportunity to have a good night's sleep because we knew that the next day was going to be technical and intense!

Special mention at breakfast the House of Consuls in Mirepoix only local : sweet, savory, perfect to start the day off right !  The rooms are just extraordinary, this stage is perfect. Bernard and his staff are very caring, full of little touches, we highly recommend them.

We didn't sleep in Pamiers because our trip was carried out in two stages, but I advise you the hotel de France which is labeled bike reception and which is used to welcoming cyclists, in particular the Occitanie race. The cuisine has an excellent reputation.

Finally we slept at Mas d'Azil au cottage the Gardel freshly labeled bike reception. Anne Marie is very attentive to the service she offers, full of delicate attentions, she has just reopened this old family hotel dating from 1926 with the rustic decor that is so dear to her. The evening we were very hungry. The hosts offer good meals for the evening, and that's exactly what we needed.

We have always made a passage in tourist offices to feel the warm atmosphere of the Ariège residents, this is unequivocally confirmed, whether at Ax les Thermes, Lavelanet, Mirepoix, Pamiers, Le Mas d'Azil or Saint Girons, we had quality welcomes and enriching discussions. We have transmitted the information related to some issues with markings and GPS tracks that are not up to date.

Maintenance or marking problem?

As I mentioned above, some passages lack markings, and the GPS tracks are not always up to date. But with both you can easily make the trip without difficulty. In the meantime, if you encounter any problems, report them on the site a message will be sent to the communities of municipalities concerned in charge of maintenance and marking and also at the Departmental Council of Ariège for quality monitoring of the route.

And to go further you can also register on the site outdoor vision, as an outdoor sports enthusiast, by sharing your footsteps you contribute to the best knowledge of outdoor sports, to the development and preservation of practice sites.

Marking on the route ©Acofilm

A natural and cultural heritage of great richness

In Ariège Pyrénées we no longer know where to turn! Between natural heritage and cultural and architectural heritage, the GT VTT makes you discover little-known nuggets and treasures. This route also allows us toborrow the famous path of the Bonshommes (GR®107), traveled by the Cathars to flee the inquisition and the Piedmont Pyrenees path to Santiago de Compostela (GR®78).

If I had to make the choice the natural and cultural sites that particularly struck me I would say :

Between Montaigut-Plantaurel and Pailhès ©Acrofilm

do it twice

👉 As we didn't have 5 consecutive days to share with friends, we decided to do the GT VTT in two times. Perfect if you have two three-day weekends.

👉 We started by doing stages 4 and 5 in June (2 days) leaving from Pamiers station and returning via the greenway from Saint Girons to Foix. We were able to recharge the E-MTB batteries at the Couserans tourist office in Saint Girons, which has the Accueil Vélo label. During this time, we were able to visit the city which is very nice.

👉 We did our second trip (3 days) stage 1, 2 and 3 from Ax les thermes station to Pamiers. We were able to recharge our e-MTBs at the Lavelanet tourist office.

Office de Tourisme des Pyrénées Cathares – Bureau de Mirepoix

Cathar Pyrenees Tourist Office – Mirepoix Office

Office de Tourisme des Pyrénées Cathares – Bureau de Lavelanet

Cathar Pyrenees Tourist Office – Lavelanet Office

Office de Tourisme des Vallées de l’Arize et de la Lèze

Tourist Office of the Arize and Lèze Valleys

Office de Tourisme des Pyrénées Ariégeoises – Ax-les-Thermes

Pyrenees Ariégeoises Tourist Office – Ax-les-Thermes

Bureau d’information touristique de Saint-Girons

Saint-Girons tourist information office

Bureau d’information touristique de Saint-Lizier

Saint-Lizier tourist information office

LIST Equipment to have in your bag While remaining light!

Leave with a backpack that has a back is even better. Allowing a capacity of 4 to 8 L is sufficient, we are here to ride! Here is the checklist of essentials 👇

In front of Montségur castle ©Acrofilm

And you don't want to carry everything, there is also the possibility of calling on a receptive agency with baggage transport and logistics. It is also possible to be accompanied by an instructor.

the mountain biker code

👉 Remember: you are not alone 🙂
👉 Slow down and speak out when you come across hikers. You will see, it will go well 👋
👉 If you come across protection dogs (patous) here are advice on what to do. Slow down, observe the animals: flocks of sheep, cows or horses, and protection dogs. Go around the herds as far as possible. Spinning bike wheels excite dogs, if they come towards you, get off the bike and put it between you and the animal. The bike serves as a barrier, wait until you have crossed the herd to get back in the saddle.
👉 If the cows are on the trail: go around them and carefully observe the females with the calves, they are very protective and can charge!

With all this information, you have something to have fun with. And you would like some advice, this is where we answer you:

To prepare your route, do not hesitate to consult our technical page dedicated to the route 👇

See you soon on the GT MTB Ariège Pyrénées!




Every day of the year, I am a big fan of outdoor sports in Ariège and throughout France: hiking, mountain biking, skiing, ski touring, rafting, canyoning ... I embark with me my companion, my son and my dog ​​Snow in (almost) all my adventures! What do I prefer in Ariège? The great outdoors and the spirit of freedom that reigns there.

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