Don’t miss the Réserve du Mont Valier ! Created in 1937, it is one of the oldest nature reserves in the Pyrenees and is the largest in Ariège with an area of 9,037 hectares. 14km of its southern border backs onto Spain. This vast protected area has retained a wild appearance in which deep, steep-sided river valleys alternate with glacial craters and in the centre, the majestic Massif du Valier which culminates at 2,838m. The Réserve du Mont-Valier has been managed since its creation by the Office National des Forêts.
The Reserve has some amazing wildlife : izards, capercaillies, rock ptarmigans, Iberian partridges, eagles, bearded vultures and griffon vultures are just a few of the stars of the Reserve. Marmots were introduced to the region in the 1960s. The mountains are also home to many birds like the water pipit, northern wheatear, redstart, alpine accentor and rarer species like the white-winged snowfinch, ring ouzel, rock thrush and even the discreet wall creeper. The plant life is typical of the central Pyrenees.
Pastoralism is still widely practised. Around 6,500 sheep graze the summer pastures of the Reserve, an essential part of mountain life, keeping the pastures, which are also used by wild ungulates, and the beautiful scenery in good condition.
Another absolute must is the Auberge des Myrtilles, a small hotel near the GR10 on the edge of a pine forest at 1,000m altitude in the heart of the Parc Naturel Régional des Pyrénées Ariégeoises. And whatever you do, don’t forget to try one of the emblematic dishes of Ariège, ‘azinat’ local pork and cabbage hotpot !
Useful information :
The topo guide « Pyrénées Ariégeoises - GR10, Tour du Val du Garbet et Tour du Biros » contains IGN maps, detailed descriptions of routes, accommodation, resources, tourist information, etc."