MAISON GRILLOU, CHAMBRES D'HOTES AND HOLIDAY ACCOMMODATION WITH A DIFFERENCE IN THE FRENCH PYRENEES
There is a vibrant festival scene in Ariège through much of the year: far too much to list here (an annual guide «Ariège en Fête» is published every June and runs to over 80 pages). But to whet your appetite and give you a feel for what to expect, here are just a few of our own favourites.
Festival “Rite” in St Girons and surrounding villages: a week of song, dance and music of the world. Around 300 artists from a dozen countries, performing in town and village squares, in bars and restaurants, and all together in the big exhibition centre in St Girons for the grande finale.
Autrefois Le Couserans: one of the ‘big’ festivals, attracting many thousands of visitors. Two days celebrating the old rural traditions of the Couserans valleys. The Sunday morning procession is unmissable.
Ingénieuse Afrique, Foix. Hugely popular festival of all things Africa; there are four concerts over three days, much dancing, an African market, workshops, exhibitions, African restaurants. We never miss this one!
Son et Lumière open air spectacle at Le Fossat; different every year but always tracing some facet of local peasant life in the valley.
Son et Lumière open air spectacle in Foix: also different every year – usually based around a timeline of events in Cathar Ariège.
Open air spectacle at Le Mas d’Azil, performed by local volunteer actors and based around life in the caves in the prehistoric era.
Foire Agricole, Le Mas d’Azil. A Sunday at the end of the month devoted to local agriculture – animals, food, crafts.
Foire Agricole, Rimont: a small-scale version in our own village at the feast of St Michel (Michaelmas), when the animals come down from the summer pastures. Food and craft market, vide grenier, animals, various animations and of course the traditional lunch.
Festival des Saveurs, Ax les Thermes. Two days celebrating Ariège’s local produce, those who produce it, and those who cook it. Lots of tastings and demonstrations.
Fête de la Noisette (hazelnut), Lavelanet. All sorts of events alongside the usual stands and market, over two days. Worth the trip.
Fête de la Figue, Le Mas d’Azil. Ditto, but this time celebrating figs rather than hazelnuts.
Ariège en Bio, St Lizier. A one day celebration of all things organic in Ariège, with presentations on organic growing and green building, a big market and a community space. Don’t miss lunch from the nomadic restaurant – it’s excellent.
Fête de la Pomme, Mirepoix. Two days centred around the apple; all sorts of the usual stalls, plus amazing (and fragrant) sculptures made entirely from different coloured apples.
Christmas markets in various towns – the one in St Girons, on the last Sunday before Christmas, has a nice atmosphere, various food and craft stalls with music, food, mulled wine and all the rest.
"Je voulais dire un grand merci, tout simplement, pour votre attention, votre chaleur, votre bonne humeur ... pour la quiétude, les couleurs, les petits-déjs somptueux! On y revient avec plaisir. Bonne chance et bonne continuation"