The heart of the Séronais: around the Pouch de Gariné near La Bastide de Sérou

Of all the places where we could have settled in the Ariège, neither of us can think of anywhere that we'd sooner be than in our local pays, the Séronais. For us, it's perfectly situated between the lower plains to the north and the high mountains to the south, with easy access to everywhere ... but more (much more) than that, it's beautiful in its own right. We love the green rolling hills, the scattered farms and hamlets, the woodlands and forests and the wildlife. It's pastoral, peaceful and bucolic.

As far as walking goes, it's perfect French Foothills terrain - in fact it gave birth to the whole French Foothills idea. You could easily come and spend two weeks just walking the Séronais: our local tourist office produces an excellent walking guide with 14 walks, all of which fit the French Foothills criteria.

This easy walk, a tour around the Pouch de Gariné, is one we often do ourselves. It's also a great walk to start off your French Foothills Ariège holiday, perfect for your first afternoon - it'll give you a real sense of place and help you orientate yourself within the area as well as warming up your legs for further delights to come! It's well marked all the way round, so you don't need to keep stopping to check your map. In spring and early summer, the wild flowers are a delight; in summer and early autumn it's the butterflies that will be the stars of the show. Come with us, in pictures .....

This is very typical of the pastoral landscape of the Séronais, near the beginning of the walk:

An Adonis Blue, seen at the beginning of September. Part of the walk goes through the type of terrain known as pelouse sèche (lit: dry grassland), a fabulous habitat for butterflies:

In May, the still-snowy peaks of Mont Valier and the other high mountains are visible beyond the Massif d'Arize:

Looking back down at the village of La Bastide de Sérou, where the walk begins:

A Sooty Copper, seen in September:

Sainfoin growing in the pelouse sèche in May:

We're always fascinated by these two old houses in the hamlet of Faux. The unrestored barn in the first photo must be exactly what L'Atelier d'Artiste, our Ariège guest accommodation, would once have looked like, while the second photo gives a great idea of what our entire house, Maison Grillou, would have looked like in the 1950s, with tiny and basic living accommodation for the humans, and large barns to either side. There are many similarities - both are built into rising land so have many different levels, many of the windows and openings in the unrestored house are very much like those in our house:

This field was full of flowers and it was impossible to decide where to point the camera:

Almost at the highest point of the walk here, and you can clearly see the Pyrenean chain set against the vivid greens of early May:

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