Charles Ripon Adt09 0009843 MdCharles Ripon Adt09 0009843 Md
©Charles Ripon Adt09 0009843 Md

Snowshoe Escape

Our day at Chioula!
A pure moment of escape

Take the time to get away on snowshoes, a place recommended by Lonely Planet, L’espace nordique du Chioula
Le Chioula, a privileged snowshoeing area. Easy routes to reach the refuge, unexpected detours where the landscape will take your breath away. Awaken your senses to nature.

This morning, seeing the snow freshly fallen last night, with Nicolas, my husband, we decide to head out on snowshoes for the day. On the advice of Olivier, the owner of our chambre d’hôtes Les Granges de Ignaux, we head for the Espace Nordique du Chioula. Olivier has told us that this little spot, at the gateway to the Aude, is only open to true lovers of nature and space. With snowshoes on our feet, we’re determined to discover this gem.

A morning of escape

in the forests of Chioula

From the parking lot, our first contact with nature is magnified by this snow that fell the day before, lit up by the first rays of the morning. As a botanical enthusiast, I clearly recognized the Epicea Pireneus. We returned to the reception building for a quick “coffee and croissant” to take away from the bar-restaurant “La Marmotte Toquée“. Then, well warmed up, we follow the snowshoe trail that takes us to the refuge in 1h15 of walking. Poles in hand, I pick up my pace on this path that climbs a little in this deciduous forest enchanted by the snow.

The horizon widens as we leave the woods, revealing a 360° panorama over the peaks towards Prades and the Occitan village of Le Roy Ladurie: Montaillou, but also towards Andorra and Spain. In the distance, we catch sight of a pretty green-roofed hut, beautifully integrated into the landscape…

A guarded refuge

in the heart of Chioula

We arrive at the refuge nestled in the middle of snowshoe and cross-country ski trails. Alvaro, the janitor, gives us a warm welcome. I take advantage of the tables in thesnow in the sunshine before lunching and sampling the local produce. I take the time to admire the landscape, and here comes Stéphane, our guide!


with a professional

We set off again with him, he’s going to take us off the marked paths and show us the most secret corners. We take full measure of the beauty of this truly natural space. As we walk, we listen with delight to his anecdotes about place names or those of the animals whose tracks we follow.

He also gives us a reading of his magnificent landscapes. He tells us about the different trades and life in the mountains, which combines ruggedness and love of place. We’re carried away by his passionate language.

A mountain to share

over a drink

Back at the refuge, Stéphane and Alvaro invite us for an aperitif, which we drink outside. Nothing like it to end this fabulous day.

On the way back to the B&B, I’m going to skyperch with my daughter to tell her all about it, she really should bring Hugo and Léa, my grandchildren.

Olivier offers us an evening infusion with plants harvested by a young herbalist who lives in the neighboring village. Tomorrow, I’ll pay her a visit.

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Book your mountain vacation for hiking in unspoilt natural surroundings, for outdoor and white-water activities, for visits to must-see tourist sites such as the Grotte de Niaux and the Parc de la Préhistoire... In winter, skiing, snowboarding, skating, snowshoeing, tobogganing and dog sledding are all on offer from Ax 3 Domaines to Beille, via Ascou and Le Chioula or Mijanés and Goulier... All year round, enjoy the benefits of thermal water for spa treatments at Ax-les-Thermes or Ussat-les-Bains, or relax at the Bains du Couloubret. The history and heritage of our mountains, pastoralism and local produce will add to your stay with unforgettable experiences... Don't miss the festivals and major events, and take advantage of the many activities for the whole family all year round... The Ariege Pyrenees, your bubble of oxygen destination!