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 to you.


 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 you company.
Mt. Valier
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.

Local ski resortWe 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 Seix.                          
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!)
Local riding school
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 l'Hers.

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 Salat.

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.

St LizierGeology: 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 generous hour.
Foix castle
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.

Livre d’Or”: We have had some lovely comments over the past few years – click to read what our visitors have said.

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