Infobox Department of France
president=Augustin Bonrepaux|pres_party=PS

Ariège (Occitan: "Arièja") is a department in southwestern France named after the Ariège River.


Ariège is one of the original 83 departments created during the French Revolution on March 4, 1790. It was created from the counties of Foix and Couserans.

Foix is the administrative capital of the Ariege and 2 other major towns are Pamiers and Mirepoix. Foix is an ancient medieval town with a fine fortress perched on a hill above the town, called Chateau de Foix. The fortress has been attacked many times, including by Simon de Montfort, without anyone succeeding to capture it and it has also been used as a prison. The names of English Prisoners of War can still be seen on the old cell walls. Another famous chateau is Montsegur, spectacularly located on a rocky outcrop at a height of 1200 metres (3900 ft). The present ruin at Montségur is not actually the work of the Cathars. During the siege of 1244 the chateau was largely destroyed and the fortress was largely rebuilt in the second half of the 13th century. The chateau has a painful past for after the fall of the chateau in 1244, more than 200 Cathar priests were burnt at the stake as heretics due to their alternative Christian (Cathar)faith.

Of the other towns in the Ariege, Pamiers offers a large commercial centre and 3 fine churches, Mirepoix is a beautiful medieval town, St Girons is a fine agricultural centre with one of the best markets (on Saturdays) in south west France. St Lizier is a very picturesque medieval hilltop town with winding streets and fine views. The cloisters in the church are definitely worth seeing.


The department is part of the current region of Midi-Pyrénées and is surrounded by the French departments of Haute-Garonne, Aude, and Pyrénées-Orientales, as well as Spain and Andorra on the south.

The geography is dominated by the Pyrenees mountains, which form the border between France and Spain. There are hundreds of miles of well marked paths which lead you to explore the magnificent Pyrenees mountains. The high mountains are easily accessible via good roads, cable cars or by foot. There are a number of lodges providing high level mountain accommodation that is comfortable, warm with good meals, at 2000 m!

There are also a number of fresh water lakes which provide a variety of activities including, walking, swimming, fishing, canoeing, sailboarding and also picnicing.

The Ariege has several of its own downhill ski resorts, the three largest being Ax-Bonascre, Les Monts D'Olmes and Guzet. There are many cross country ski-ing resorts, one of the best being at Plateau de Beille, near Les Cabannes.

The Pyrenees mountain range forms a fantastic backdrop to the entire Ariege Department, rising some 10000 feet (3000m) along the border with Andorra and Spain. The highest peaks are clearly visible visible from Toulouse in the Haute Garonne. It is one of the least populated and most unspoiled regions of France. The locals enjoy keeping old traditions alive, especially farming techniques. Consequently, as less insecticides, for example, have been used, the flora and fauna of the area are rich in diversity and number. Butterflies are seen in huge numbers, birds are numerous, particularly noticeable are the large birds of prey, including the magnificent Griffon vultures.

There are also many unspoiled villages and hamlets tucked away in the valleys close to the department's border with Spain, such as Seix, Cominac and Aulus Les Bain, and picturesque mountain villages, most notably Aleu which comes alive in the holiday season.


The inhabitants of the department are called "Ariégeois".

The Ariege department is a largely unknown department which is situated next to the Aude in the most southern part of the Midi-Pyrenees department and shares its borders with the Aude, Andorra, Haute Garonne and the Pyrenees Orientales. This is predominantly a farming area as the soil is rich and fertile and yet more than 50% of the Ariège is mountainous, with 490 965 hectares is covered by forests.


The region was originally part of Aquitaine and has retained many hallmarks of the Gascon culture and Gascon language. It voted 59% in favour of the left-wing during the first round of the 2007 presidential election.

ee also

*Cantons of the Ariège department
*Communes of the Ariège department
*Arrondissements of the Ariège department

External links

*fr icon [ Conseil general website]
*fr icon [ Prefecture website]
*fr icon
*en icon
*fr icon [ Trekking in Ariege Pyrenees website]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Ariège — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Ariège …   Wikipedia Español

  • Ariege — Ariège steht für: Ariège (Département), ein französisches Département Ariège (Fluss), einen Fluss in Frankreich …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Ariège — steht für: Ariège (Département), ein französisches Département Ariège (Fluss), einen Fluss in Frankreich Diese Seite ist eine Begriffsklärung zur Unterscheidung mehrerer mit demselben Wort bezeichneter Begriffe …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Ariege — Ariège Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom. L Ariège est une rivière française affluent de la Garonne. Le département de l Ariège est un département français. Ce document provient de «… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Ariege — (frz. Ariäsch) von den Pyrenäen kommender, 19 M. langer Nebenfluß der Garonne. Von ihm hat das an Andorra und Catalonien gränzende Departement der Ariège den Namen; es ist 874/5 QM. groß mit 275000 E.; Gebirgsland (Pic dʼEstat 9700 , Montcalm… …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

  • Ariège —   [a rjɛːʒ],    1) die, rechter Nebenfluss der Garonne in Südfrankreich, 170 km lang, entspringt in den Hochpyrenäen unmittelbar östlich der Grenze zu Andorra und mündet oberhalb von Toulouse. Ihr Abflussregime (Frühjahrshochwasser) ist durch den …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Ariège [1] — Ariège (spr. ǟsch ), Fluß im südlichen Frankreich, entspringt in den Pyrenäen am Pic Nègre an der Grenze von Andorra, fließt durch das gleichnamige Departement und durch einen Teil des Depart. Obergaronne und mündet, 150 km lang, südlich von… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Ariège [2] — Ariège (spr. ǟsch ), Departement im südlichen Frankreich, aus der ehemaligen Grafschaft Foix und dem Couserans gebildet, grenzt gegen S. an Spanien und die Republik Andorra, im W. und N. an das Depart. Obergaronne, im O. an Aude, im SO. an das… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Ariège — (spr. arĭähsch), r. Nebenfluß der Garonne im südl. Frankreich, 163 km lg. – Das Dep. A. (die alten Gebiete Foix und Conserans), 4903 qkm, (1901) 210.527 E., am Nordabhang der Pyrenäen; Hauptstadt Foix …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Ariège — riv. de France (170 km), affl. de la Garonne (r. dr.); naît dans les Pyrénées Orientales. Dép.: 4 890 km²; 136 455 hab.; ch. l. Foix (10 446 hab.). V. Midi Pyrénées (Rég.) …   Encyclopédie Universelle