Col d’Agnes

15th May 2022 On the route up to Port de Lers the road runs through dense woodlands to the open ground where waterfalls crash down by the road and woodland browns chase along the fringes of the beeches but never land in plain sight. In a flush by the road, a single De Prunner’s ringlet…

Château de Miglos

8th May 2022 The crumbling Château de Miglos is surrounded by equally ancient, limestone grassland rich in flowers and insects. The steepest slope, down which there is an overgrown footpath, faces west looking up the Vicdessos valley. There is a magnificent view from the small hill above the castle, including one looking south to the…

The Thieves of La Brenne

21st May 2022 The regional nature park of La Brenne is an ancient patchwork of forests, grasslands, marshes and lakes to the north of the River Creuse, and located at the heart of France. The ancient woodlands are full of butterflies and the rough grasslands hold red-backed shrikes, stonechats and corn buntings. But it is…

Above Cassou for the last time…

25th May 2022 The steep limestone grassland above the village has provided endless riches, a fleeting Apollo perhaps the pick of the many butterflies but there was also an array of orchids and other vibrant flowers on this large patch of pelouse calcaire. With the advent of spiked speedwell it is not surprising to find…

Les Ariégeois

The people of the Ariège inhabit a wild and inaccessible corner of France; there is no escape from the narrow valleys and high mountains. But yet this is a landscape that for centuries has been subject to intensive human use. The discovery and dating of numerous charcoal pits and forges tell of a significant iron…

Le Route des Corniches

16th May 2022 Meadow clary has taken over the fields around the Eglise de Saint Martin on the small road from Luzenac to Verneaux and on up to Chateau Lordat. On the route des corniches from Lordat west to the villages of Axiat, Appy and beyond, the flora is emerging in the verges and abandoned…

Col de Pailhères 2

14th May 2022 The cyclists stream up the wide road from Ax-Les-Thermes to join the cars and camper vans at the summit; most walk up to the rock outcrops to take in the long views . The road from Ax is improved to cater for the skiers that come in great numbers to the Station…

Col du Pradel

6th May 2022 Coming up the small mountain road through the forest and up into the high pastures, the hillsides around the Col are transformed by a carpet of daffodils. There are also patches of ubiquitous broom, which the farmers are always trying to burn away in early Spring, and a scattering of flowering mezereon…

Col du Fajou

17 May 2022 The mountains above Col de Marmare are crossed by drovers’ paths which run through wide pastures. The grasslands are covered in elder-flowered orchids and gentians, woodlarks and tree pipits sing ceaselessly and the wall of sound is joyful. On the steeper slopes, juniper scrub is filled with territorial green hairstreaks that bound…

Valley of the Flowers

1st May 2022 La réserve naturelle nationale de la vallée d’Eyne rises through pine forests up into montane pastures and runs south to the Spanish border. Known as the ‘Valley of the Flowers’ this is one of the great sites of Pyrenean botany with a long history of surveys since the 18th century and today…

Col de Marmare

According to the cycle route websites, the route from Luzenac climbs 817m to the Col which is at 1361m some 16.7km away. This is the local patch and holds a diversity of habitats each with its own flora and fauna. As April turns to May, each is becoming richer; the changes since the cold days…

Le gypaète barbu du Quié

At the top of a long and bumpy track there is a wonderful view of the Ariège valley; the sounds of the traffic travel up from the village in the morning air. Soon they are drowned out by cowbells as a herd of cows and calves comes over the ridge; they graze for an hour…