Monday, 8 August 2011

Africa comes to the Ariege - Ingénieuse Afrique - Foix

One of the bands - Ahmed Cisse & les Gombis
One of the events that we look forward to each year is the Ingénieuse Afrique festival in Foix... For three days and nights the streets of Foix offer a taste of Africa in the Ariege. This year is the 15th time that the  festival has been held,  and the organizers really know how to put on a wonderful show...

The festival is always lively and the quality of music is superb... Not bad considering that entrance to all the musical events is free. The Halle in Foix makes a great venue for a summers evening of dancing... In-between bands, a stroll around the African market and food stalls in the  Place Parmentier helps you recover your breath ready for the next round of bouncing up and down. Also if you want to learn a few African dance moves or how to play the djembe, n'goni or balafon, then it is possible to sign up for one of the workshops which take place on each day of the festival

More information about the festival can be found by visiting


Friday, 5 August 2011

Climbing in the Ariege Pyrenees - The Dent d'Orlu - Fleur de Rhodo

Dave's 'Big Day Out' on the Dent d'Orlu

Situated in the middle of a nature reserve (Réserve nationale de faune d'Orlu), the Dent d'Orlu is the jewel in the crown of Ariege climbing... Located in the south eastern part of the Ariege, close to Ax-les-Thermes, the 'Dent' or 'tooth' is a massive pyramid of very fine granite that rises up to a height of 2222 metres. There are over 50 climbs, ranging in height from 30 metres to 1150 metres... Many are fully equipped sport climbs but there are also plenty of 'trad' lines to have a go at.

This trip was Dave's first visit to the 'Dent'... We had been hampered by bad weather (snow in June?), in the previous few weeks, so when we finally got some good conditions we were raring to go... The chosen climb for Dave's first outing on the Dent d'Orlu was 'Fleur de Rhodo'... A 350 metre climb consisting of 11 pitches with a maximum difficulty of 5c+. The climb is a fully equipped and is three star rated. 

The walk in to the east face of the Dent d'Orlu took us exactly 1 hour and a half and we were soon 'swinging' leads up the east face. Most of the climbing ascends easy angled slabs with just the occasional difficulty to give pause for thought... A good way to get your head back into the discipline of multi-pitch climbing. The climbing also provides the opportunity to work on your 'friction' technique, as there aren't many holds along the way!

The main thing is that the views are spectacular and this climb has the advantage of being one of a handful that finish directly on the summit (most of the other climbs gain the summit via a scramble along an easy arrete). The summit offers very fine views of the Orlu nature reserve and the Ax valley. Also if you keep an eye out it is likely that you will be able to see isards, golden eagles and egyptian vultures.

There is a good quality guide to the climbing on the Dent d'Orlu... This is in the 'Escalades en Ariege Pyrenees' series of guides published by JD Achard. Also, information about newer climbs that have been added since the guidebook was published can be found by visiting the CAFMA website

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Climbing in the Ariege Pyrenees - New guidebook - Niaux Limestone

The 'Niaux Limestone - Climbing in the Ariege Pyrenees' guidebook has just been published!

Created by Graham Lynch... The new English language guidebook offers a comprehensive guide to the climbing in the area around the village of Niaux, including the major crags of Alliat, Genat and Baychon.

To celebrate the arrival of this magnificent new book, we are offering a free copy (usually costs €20.00) to anyone who books to stay in our big gite during September or October 2011.

See for more details.