And to be honest, it all makes us rather sad and scared for the future of the small local producers and other businesses all around us. The Ariège needs its visitors ... but it needs them not just to come here, but to support the community that they've chosen to spend time in and that they all love!
What the Ariège has to offer its visitors is free (and priceless): stunning mountain scenery, purity of air, birds, butterflies, plants, wildlife, space, silence ... but it's the local people that quietly take care of it all for the generations to come. Without that care-taking it would quickly revert to the poor, even deprived area that it was not so many moons ago. And unless those who visit show their support to local people by buying their produce or their pots, having coffee in their bars, eating in their restaurants, taking part in local events - in other words, engaging with them in a multitude of ways ... well, the whole house of cards that is the Ariège's fragile infrastructure will simply collapse. And the next time you want to come, we may all simply have gone.