Ariège and its sublime roads lend themselves to quiet car rides criss-crossing its hairpin bends, peaks and small paths… And when the irresistible urge to hit the road to take advantage of the beautiful summer days arises, you must not let it slip away!
This is why one fine morning with Juliette we took the car in the direction of Bélesta to a nice roadtrip between Pays de Foix and the Cathar Pyrenees. 🚗
The recipe for a good roadtrip in Ariège
Before leaving you must first choose the destination (obvious you will tell me), we wanted a nice walk in the forest in the shade of the fir trees, the lush Belesta Forest then imposed itself on us.
Then you have to find the right path. The one with pretty roads, which crosses wonderful landscapes, to enjoy both the trip and the destination. To go from Foix to Belesta, there are several route options. To make the most of this road trip we decided to take the road that borders the castle of Montségur to be able to admire it more closely.
Let's go for the adventure, next stop: the Château de Montségur!
Our itinerary being ready, we left in the middle of the morning towards the first stop a good half hour drive: Montsegur Castle. 🏰
Barely arrived that we are not disappointed to have taken a slightly slower route, the detour is worth it. The castle of Montségur sits proudly on its magnificent rocky outcrop at 1200m altitude.
Cathar castle, he witnessed the last moments of the catharisme, if you go up there, remember to do the guided tour so as not to miss a crumb of the eventful life of this famous castle.
You have to 30 minutes to get there on foot and guided tour lasts one hour. In our program we decided not to go up there this time.
We still have lots of nice things to see on this busy day!
The extraordinary fountain of Fontestorbes
After this pleasant contemplation, we hit the road again to go to an otherwise incredible place. It even seems that we are going to have the chance to see a rare phenomenon in the world… It's about a intermittent fountain ! ⛲
What is an intermittent fountain ? 🤔
“The spring flows steadily most of the year. On the other hand, during low water periods, i.e. when the average daily flow drops below 1,04 m3/s, usually from July to October, the resurgence presents intermittences to which it owes its celebrity. According to the only theory which, to date, makes it possible to explain all the types of operation encountered and the order of magnitude of the flows involved, the intermittences are in all likelihood linked to a configuration involving:
- an upstream reservoir (an underground room dug by water in the limestone mass), fed by water coming from the watershed
- a conduit, called drain, located in a low position and used by the water leaving the reservoir to reach the outlet of the spring;
- a duct, called an air intake, located above and filled with air. »
👉 For more information: Wikipedia
Here we are ! The intermittent fountain of Fontestorbes is on the side of the road and the least we can say is that we cannot remain indifferent to this marvel of nature.
It’s a peaceful place (very few cars pass on the nearby road), the sound of water bewitches you andwaiting for the show is stimulating. After about thirty minutes the fountain is unleashed and its flow intensifies for another thirty minutes. It's very impressive to see, the timing is just perfect.
👉 Namely: you can see this phenomenon from July to October, during low water. 🗓️
It's time to eat and your stomach is rumbling! That's good, in front of the fountain there is a small restaurant ready to welcome us. You can enjoy the view of the surrounding forest and the fountain from the terraces on stilts, a real pleasure to enjoy the lunch break! 🍽️
Once sated we hit the road again, but before leaving, we will take a look at the tree climbing park which is right next to the restaurant. We add it to our to do list of things to do near Bélesta.
Fontestorbes Fountain ©Roxane Banos – Ariège Pyrénées Tourisme Interior of the Fountain of Fontestorbes ©Roxane Banos – Ariège Pyrénées Tourisme
Bélesta forest in sight!
There you go, after a few last minutes of travel we arrived at the pretty village of Bélesta.
At that time, we had two possibilities to discover the Belesta forest: take a 5h20 long tour departing from the village ou go directly to the Gouffre des Corbeaux (also called "Crow's Hole") from the hamlet of Gélat. The second option seemed to us the best because the day was already well under way.
We therefore continue our epic through very practicable tracks until the hamlet of Gelat.
As soon as we arrive we are in the mood, this little perched hamlet is adorable. We cross the magnificent fir trees of the forest 🌲, we soak up the place, the wooded air of this atmosphere.
after only 20 minutes, we arrive in front of a catwalks which seems to give in to the void. It allows you to move forward almost at the heart of the abyss to fully enjoy this place. We move forward and we are impressed, we realize that this gaping hole is more than 60 meters high.
Subsequently, we learned that it is possible with a guide to abseil down the chasm, a perfect activity for adventure and thrill seekers ! 🧗♀️
It's time to return and we retrace our steps to join the car to return quietly towards Foix.
On the return program? Debrief with friends of this wonderful day! There is full of possibilities for day trips in Ariège and we already imagine exploring again the small roads of Ariège to discover the pearls of the territory…🌎
Hamlet of Gélat ©Roxane Banos – Ariège Pyrénées Tourisme Footbridge at the Gouffre des Corbeaux ©Roxane Banos – Ariège Pyrénées Tourisme