Being on holiday at Manzac d'en Bas and the Ariege is like having a huge playground at your disposal ! For those who would like a more energetic change from relaxing in the gites, the garden or around the swimming pool at Manzac, there are a huge variety of activities available, mostly within an hour of Manzac, to suit all ages and interests, and all levels of ability and adrenalin seekers.
We have tried and enjoyed almost all of these activities ourselves and can therefore advise you on many aspects of each activity - suitability, costs, how to pay (some activities don't take credit cards), how to get there etc. We can also make any bookings and reservations on your behalf to make everything easier and more efficient for you - we know many of the people who run these activities pretty well.
Immediately below is a collage with each of the activities listed including a link to their respective websites. For much more information and pictures and a website link on each, please scroll down and click on the Title or highlighted text .
Sequoia Vertigo , one of our favourite local activities, is only 10 minutes from Manzac and is a tree top adventure park with cleverly and imaginatively created obstacles in amongst the redwood (sequoia) and oak trees. For those who know 'Go Ape' in Britain, it is a bit like that, but apparently much better value and more fun! The park consists of a large number of different obstacle courses and zip wires of varying difficulty and height (up to 30m high) which you can go on as many times as you want during the day. It is a great day out, providing everyone with some good, safe fun whilst at the same time giving children, especially, a sense of personal responsibility, self confidence and independence.
MOUNTAIN BIKING / VTT (Velo Tout Terrain)
Mountain Biking (VTT) Sadly the Company who used to run this activity have ceased business which is a great shame as they had a very good product and it was very popular with our guests. We are trying to find a similar business which provides VTT and we will then include new details of this on this website. Thank you for your patience.
Canoeing on the River Ariege, about 45 minutes from Manzac, is an activity which can be enjoyed by all the family (min age - 8 years old and able to swim).
The routes, which are 9 to 12 km long and take 2 to 3 hours to complete, are through some very picturesque scenery. Most of the paddling is on smooth water with a few small rapids to negotiate which provide a little extra excitement.
All the equipment - canoes (1, 2 or 3 seater), paddles and life jackets are included, as is the transport back to your car at the start.
Another great day out which is a good introduction to canoeing and / or a fun day out for all the family.
There are two ascents as part of the Via Ferrata at Vicdessos, about an hours drive from Manzac - one is a relatively easy introduction to climbing and the other is very much more challenging, and not for the faint hearted or those who don't have a good head for heights - much of this activity is 800m up a cliff face !
No experience of climbing is required and there is no guide needed; after a demonstration of the equipment, technique and safety procedure, off you go. One thing though - once you start, there is no turning back!
However, it is a great facility and opportunity to do something a bit different and a really enjoyable day out at the end of which you will feel a big sense of achievement.
Canyoning up the valley from Vicdessos, and just over an hour from Manzac, is another activity which is a really good day out and an opportunity to do / try something very different, that isn't normally readily accessible and that is fun and exciting,
It involves descending down a river canyon by swimming, abseiling down cliff sides in or next to waterfalls, crossing the canyon on zip wires, jumping off rocks and ledges into deep water pools, and sliding down natural slides which have been eroded over thousands of years by the river. Again, this activity is not for the faint hearted or those who experience vertigo - one of the abseils is 25m long and another jump is 8m high.
This excursion includes all the necessary clothing (wetsuits etc) and climbing equipment. It is fully guided throughout with instruction at each obstacle as necessary.
Hydrospeeding is like white water rafting except without the raft, so, equipped with a protective body board, a padded wetsuit, life jacket and flippers, you are much closer to the water and the action. This activity is quite a long way from Manzac (about a 2 hour drive), but is well worth the journey. There are two levels available - Discovery and Sporting. The Discovery level is open to anyone who is 12 years or older and is approx 5 km long. The Sporting level is rather more challenging and takes place on a 7 km stretch of white water which was used for the French canoeing Championships in 1999 - it is open to people who are 14 years or older and good swimmers. As it is quite a long way to go for this activity, it may be worth making a full day out and combining this with the white water rafting, which takes place on the same stretch of river Aude and run by the same company.
Paragliding is a sport which can be enjoyed throughout the Pyrenees, but our nearest location is in the foothills of the Pyrenees near Foix, about 45 minutes from Manzac. This a wonderful opportunity (weather permitting) to fly in tandem with a professional glider in some really spectacular mountainous countryside. This is one of those activities which needs to be booked in advance and we can help you with that, as necessary. Another unique activity to experience on holiday whilst based at Manzac.
The best place for white water rafting in this part of SW France is near Axat, about 2 hours from Manzac on the same stretch of water on the River Aude as the hydrospeeding. The are three courses available giving flexibility for younger children to enjoy this activity; Discovery, Sporting and Integrated. The Discovery course is for participants of 8 years and older, is 7 km long and takes about 1 - 1.5 hours. The sporting course is for people of 14 years and over, is 7 km long and passes through rapids classed 3 - 4, and also takes about 1 - 1.5 hours to complete. The Integrated course combines the Discovery and Sporting routes and is open to people of 14 years and older, is about 14 km long and takes 2 - 2.5 hours. As it is quite a long way to go for this activity, it may be worth making a full day out and combining this with the hydrospeeding, which takes place on the same stretch of river Aude and is operated by the same company.
While there is plenty of good walking in beautiful, rolling countryside locally to Manzac d'en Bas with wonderful views of the Pyrenees, the opportunities available in the Pyrenees themselves for rather more demanding hiking are very extensive and accessible. This can range from short walks in the foothills of the Pyrenees to (more gritty!) hiking amongst the high peaks of this spectacular mountain range. Day trips include to the local Cathar Castles for eg (please see the Places to Visit page) or to the Cascade d'Ars or in amongst the peaks of the Pyrenees by driving to and hiking around the cross country skiing area at Plateau de Beille.
Those guests who wish to stay overnight in the mountains can camp next to a mountain lake or stay in one of the many fully catered refuges on the GR10 hiking route accross the Pyrenees from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean which passes through the Ariege. We have stayed in a number of these refuges which, from our experience, without exception, are excellent, providing good food and comfortable, basic accommodation - Refuge en Beys in the Orlu National Park (hire a donkey here to carry your kit or yourself to this refuge), Refuge Estagnous situated on The Freedom Trail used by POWs to cross into Spain during WWII, which is ideal for the hike to the top of Mt Valier (the mountan that can be seen from Manzac d'en Bas), Refuge Pinet which is half way to the summit of Montcalm, one of the peaks over 3000m in the Pyrenees, Refuge Bassies which is on the GR10 and set in magnificent mountain and lakeside scenery, and Refuge Ruhle which is the most accessible refuge in the Ariege - just 1.5 hours walk from the nearest car park, but also set in great countryside.
This most definitely is not for the faint hearted, but every other Sunday afternoon during the summer, it is possible to complete a bungee jump at the entrance to the cave at Mas d'Azil. At a height of 70 m / 230 ft, this is the only bungee jump in the world that is allowed from the roof of a cave which makes it a very different experience in that having completed the first plunge, you are catapulted back up towards the rock at the top of the cave, (hopefully!) stopping just before you slam into the rock !
A less strenuous way of enjoying this spectacle is simply to watch those brave (or mad?) enough to complete this bungee jump from the river bank and enjoy an ice cream which can be bought from the shop nearby as well as combining it with a trip into the cave (grotte) itself.
Details and photographs to follow, but website can be found at www.ariege.com/equiloisirs
Fancy yourself as a budding Lewis Hamilton or Jenson Button, then go-karting at this unique racing facility in the Midi Pyrenees region of France, about an hour from Manzac d'en Bas is a great day out. Open to everyone of 7 years or over, irrespective of your experience, you can drive these nippy go-karts in 10 minute sessions around the 1400m circuit at average speeds of up to 60kph (or as slowly as you want!).
The are two new centres for indoor climbing which have been set up in Toulouse, one on the west side near the airport and the other in the south east. Salles d'Escalade Altissimo
These centres are suitable for climbers of all ages, experience and abilitiy with climbs of varying height (from 4 up to 10m) and degrees of difficulty. They are open 7 days a week, are very good value (9 - 13 euros per day) and all required equipment can be hired and instruction given (on reservation).
This is a really good day out at an excellent and safe facility for anyone who wants to try or enjoys climbing or as a great indoor activity for everyone in the event of bad weather