THINGS TO DO
While some of the activities including chucking yourself down fast flowing rivers or being high up in the trees and on cliff faces may not be up your street, there are still plenty of great days out to enjoy in the Ariege whilst on holiday at Manzac and especially for families with younger children.
We have tried and enjoyed almost all of these Things to Do in the Ariege ourselves and can therefore advise you on many aspects of each excursion - suitability, costs, how to pay (some places don't take credit cards), how to get there etc.
We can also make any bookings and reservations on your behalf to help make everything easier and more efficient for you. Immediately below is a collage with each of the excursions 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.
The Parc Prehistoire near Tarascon
The Eagles of Lordat
Thermal Spa at Ax Les Thermes
The Reptile Farm
Cite de L'Espace in Toulouse
Exploria Park near Mas d'Azil
The Tour de France
The Amarante Butterfly Farm
Tour of the Airbus Factory in Toulouse
This part of France is full of interesting evidence of prehistoric life including wonderful cave paintings and to celebrate this, the Prehistoric Park near Tarascon is a really enjoyable day out for all the family, especially those with younger children. In a rather typically Ariegeois way, this isn't a highly polished venue with lots of slick displays, fast food outlets and kiosks etc, but instead it is a six acre park with lots of interesting sculptured areas for children to run around and let off steam, including a play ground with swings and slides etc - one of only two we have found in this region! There is a good quality and good value restaurant (or you can bring your own picnic), as well as various other interesting and fun interactive (non technical!) displays - cave painting, hunting, clay jewellery making and how to make fire and prehistoric tools. A fun day out for all the family which we have visited on a number of occasions and is only about 45 minutes from Manzac.
This was one of our first days out when we moved to France and it has remained one of our favourite. The Eagles of Lordat is located in the Pyrenees about 1.25 hours from Manzac in a spectacular setting within an old Cathar castle with a wonderful selection of beautiful birds - eagles, falcons, vultures and owls. But the best part of all is the demonstration which is conducted by a falconer and his assistant who are so enthusiastic about their birds that every display seems like their first - it is very slick and the audience are in the thick of the action throughout, with the opportunity to hold some of the birds, be close to them and see them flying close over your heads. Lovely experience especially for younger children.
In the middle of Ax-les-Thermes, about 1.25 hours from Manzac, awaits a thermal spa feed by natural hot springs and some serious pampering! Les Bains du Couloubret is a great facility with indoor and outdoor pools at an average temperature of 35C and a variety of high pressure water jets to massage those aching muscles. In addition, there is a sauna, a steam room, a hammam, and sun loungers on a sun deck with views of the Pyrenees all of which is included in the price of a two or five hour session. With pre-booking and extra payment, it is also possible to enjoy a variety of different massages. A real treat day out.
The reptile farm, about 45 minutes from Manzac, has recently moved to new, improved facilities and this has enabled it to increase its selection of snakes and other reptiles as well as install solar panels which now provide 85% of their heating requirements.
This is another unique opportunity provided by specialists in the Ariege to experience something very different and unusual - there are over 70 different species of snakes, lizards, iguanas and tortoises etc to see ranging from a few cm in length to giant pythons over 6m in length and weighing over 100kg.
There are guided visits including English speaking experts as well as the opportunity to touch and handle some of the reptiles and tortoises. This is a interesting excusion for all those who are interested in 'scaley beasts' and / or a good day out if the weather isn't as sunny and hot as hoped.
Toulouse is the centre of the French space industry and where the Arianne rocket was developed and manufactured - many satellites have been delivered to space using this rocket. On the east side of Toulouse is the Cite de L'Espace which celebrates this industry. It is a very popular venue, not surprisingly, because it is of full interesting, informative and well presented attractions, the highlights being a life-size mock-up of the Arianne rocket; an actual mock-up of the MIR space station used for Russian cosmonauts to train in; a planetarium with it's 360 degree screen and a 3D IMAX cinema with footage of the International Space Station. In addition there is a children's playground, an interactive exhibition and a good quality and good value restaurant.
Details to follow, but website can be found at
Cycling is arguably the national sport of France and the Tour de France is the biggest part of its sporting heritage. It is the biggest spectator sporting event in the world with millions of people watching it 'live' from the roadside every year, as well as the enormous international TV audience.
In the first half of July The Tour passes very close to Manzac d'en Bas as it moves through the Pyrenees. It is a great experience even if the atmosphere and the occasion is much better than the sporting spectacle. The Tour sponors' 'caravan' is fun as supporters rush to collect free merchandise before the arrival of the cyclists, but don't blink or you will miss them! A memorable, special day out.
For a quieter day out in beautiful surroundings, a visit to the gardens and greenhouses which contain the Butterflies d'Amarante is really worth considering. There is a wide variety of native and tropical butterflies and this together with the expert guidance of Pascal and Cathie, the owners, offers the opportunity to see and learn a lot about these delicate creatures!
While the components of all Airbus aeroplanes are made all over Europe, they are actually assembled in Toulouse including the famous double decker A380, the world's largest passenger plane. For budding engineers and aeroplane enthusiasts, this is a unique opportunity to visit the Airbus Factory and to see the sheer size of these Super Jumbos and the scale of this assembly operation close up.