This page should be useful for
anyone intending to book straight-forward gite rental, or
for a non artist member of a painting party who may well be
wondering what he or she can do while everyone else is off
with their easels!
Please note that we are redesigning this page. We have some
stunning photographs to add, so in the interim should you
wish to see them please contact Eleri and she will send them
The Ariege-Couserans ( the 18 valleys converging on St
Girons) contains some of the wildest, most remote and most
spectacular scenery in the Pyrenees, as well as the gentler
beauty of its lower valleys and slopes. You can walk for
miles even in high season with only the sound of birds, the
rustling of leaves and the sound of running water to keep
Walking in the area is superb, whether you choose to go
directly from Miramont, locally in the stunningly beautiful
valleys of the Garbet, Ustou and Salat or to the more
challenging peaks reachable from within an hour's drive.
There are walks of all lengths to suit all abilities- from
gentle afternoon family strolls to those requiring
“Randonneur experimente” status.
The area is extremely well served by waymarked trails- the
GR(Grande Randonnée)10 which runs the full length of the
Pyrenees, passes at several points within 10 miles of
Le Pichet and is easily accessible. The Commune d’Oust has
produced a comprehensive map/guidebook of at least 20 “GR
Pays” walks in the locality, and a number of more strenuous
walks lead to the Spanish border, such as the wartime escape
route, “le chemin de la liberté”, and those to the Ports
(passes or gateways) de Salau, Aula, Couillac and Marterat.
You can also arrange longer walks involving staying in
mountain refuges. Le Pichet has an extensive range of guide
books and maps for your use.
We are happy to help, should you wish, with
any aspect of your walking holiday; to point you in the
direction of suitable walks, to accompany you if required
on those walks with which we are familiar, and to help
with transport for any walks which benefit from the use of
two cars, such as the descent (or ascent) of the GR10 from
the Col de la Core into Seix, or from Guzet into
Aulus. We make a nominal charge for accompanying you (we
originally bought Le Pichet as a base for our own walking
holidays, and consider it both a joy and a privilege to
share our knowledge of this beautiful
region with others) and, should you require a second
vehicle we charge at cost for petrol.
Please note that we are not mountain guides; for those
requiring the services of professional “accompagnateurs de
montagne”, we can highly recommend our friends
at www.bergtoppers.nl/ for walks at any
level. There is also an office of mountain
-guides based in
Ski-ing: the small, but wonderfully family-orientated resort
of Guzet-Neige is 30mins drive away. Prices are very
reasonable compared with the Alps, queuing for the lifts is
rare, group sizes for lessons are small and the instructors
from L’Ecole du Ski Francais” are second to none. (We speak
from personal experience – the enjoyment and progress of our
11 year-old son who skis in competitions throughout the
Pyrenees is proof in itself!)
Fishing:Another passion round here. People come from far and
wide to fish in the rivers Garbet and Salat
which are excellent for trout; long and short term permits
are available from Seix at very reasonable rates (details on
request). There are also a number of fishing lakes within an
hour’s drive e.g. l'étang de Bethmale, L'etang de
Horse-riding: there is an excellent “Centre Equestre” near
Oust, visible from our garden (although you cannot hear the
laughter!) where you can enjoy lessons either in the covered
school or the outdoor manege. The owner, Lorenna Sala, BEES,
trained with the Cadre-Noir of Saumur- she has some splendid
horses, of all shapes and sizes and to suit all abilities. A
huge favourite with children is "Ernest", (pictured);
younger children start with "Daphné" and more experienced
riders can try the paces of "Gin- Fizz," "Elégant" "Mambo"
or "Harmonie". From Coumariaou you can also take in the
glorious scenery on 2h, 4h or day-long balades. Other
centres, such as "la Ferme du Mont Béas",(Ercé) la Centre du
Boutou (Massat) also provide balades -we understand
that both are excellent, but cannot vouch personally for
them - and having experienced Coumariaou find no need to
travel any further afield!
Donkey hire is available above Seix, and at Aleu.
Canoeing and kayaking: in the upper and lower valley of the
Golf : Golf de L’Ariege is about 45 mins drive away.
Culture and History: The region is rich in historical
associations, of which the Ariegeois are justly and fiercely
proud. The beautiful Gallo-Roman town of St. Lizier adjoins
St. Girons- it boasts the accolade of being "un des plus
beaux villages de France" and is a UNESCO site; the
mediaeval chateau of Foix (the departmental capital) is less
than one hour’s drive away, and the numerous castles
associated with the brutal 13th century period of the Cathar
heresy are within 2 hours drive, as are the fascinating
cities of Carcassonne and Lourdes, not to mention Toulouse,
"la ville rose". Europe’s largest area of prehistoric caves
at Niaux/ Lombrives and Tarascon's prehistoric
park are both within 1h30 by car.
Geology: Apart from the above
named caves, you can also visit "Le Mas d@Azil" and
take an awe inspiring boat-trip through some amazing caverns
at "La Riviere Souterraine de Labouiche", both within an
hour's reach from here. The cirque of Cagateille, less well
known than that of Gavarnie is nevertheless magnificent- a
tough 8h hike up and around the walls of the cirque will
reward you with seeing its glacial lakes of Alet and
Hillette, and tremendous views around the Ustou Valley.
For those interested in Astronomy, the Observatory of the
Pic du Midi de Bigorre has been recently opened to the
public, and is accessible by Cable Car. Something we can't
wait to try! Again, it is about 2h by car, easily accessible
from the Pau-Lourdes/Tarbes autoroute A64.
Relaxation and Well-being. The spa -town of Aulus-les Bains
at the head of the Garbet valley is 12k away, and offers a
variety of therapeutic, and health -giving treatments.
Please enquire for details.
Language tuition. For anyone wishing to improve their
French, whether in conversation or written work, Eleri will
be delighted to help as she teaches both English and French
locally. "Official" lessons are charged at 20€ for a very
Finally, many of our guests simply love to relax in the
garden, soaking up the view, to enjoy a book or the chance
to do some embroidery. Eleri does not paint, but does love
embroidery and would be delighted to share ideas and
projects with you!
Local services: The villages of Oust and Seix are
respectively 4 and 6k away supplying all needs. There is a
doctor in Oust and pharmacy in Seix. For provisions, we
particularly recommend the butchers in Oust, and the family
bakers in both places. Seix has a small but very well
stocked supermarket. For those wishing to eat out, the
Restaurant/Bar du Garbet in Oust is outstanding, also
excellent is the Auberge du Haut Salat and La
Gourmandine in Seix, Le Martert in St Lizier d'Ustou and the
Auberge des Deux Rivieres at Pont de la Taule. The town of
St. Girons, with a wide variety of shops, supermarkets and
restaurants, not to mention a wonderful Saturday market, is
about 20k away. For gourmet bargain–hunters, Andorra and
Spain are respectively within 3 and 2h reach by car.
So, should you be a non-painting member of a painting group,
there is plenty to entice you. Eleri will be delighted to
escort you to any of the places or activities named
above, providing of course that she is back in time to
prepare the evening meal.
”: We have had some
lovely comments over the past few years – click to read what
our visitors have said.