The Ariege, South West France

Visiting the Ariege is like stepping back thirty years in time.  We will have five full days of photography to explore this unspoilt region with its many intriguing villages, medieval towns, churches and cloisters with plenty of opportunity to take pictures of the local architecture. We will visit a local market, look round a traditional working flour mill and go behind the scenes at a family run boulangerie. The place is full of interesting characters and we’ll meet various local artisans, such as a basket weaver and violin maker. In early June the hay meadows should still be brimming with wildflowers, unusual orchids if we are lucky, and the surrounding landscape is magnificent.

Location: Manzac D’en Bas, The Ariege, South West France

Dates: Friday 2 – Thursday 8 June 2017

Cost: £976.00

Accommodation:  We are based at Manzac D’en Bas, where we have the run of three exquisitely renovated sites with stunning views of the Pyrenees.

Travel: You will need to book your own flights to Toulouse Blagnac Airport 

Friday 2 June - Welcome to Manzac

Arrive at Toulouse Blagnac Airport where Giles and I will meet you and drive you to Manzac, which takes approximately an hour. There will be a short welcome by our hosts, Giles and Louise Nevill, followed by a brief discussion about the week’s photography.

Saturday 3 June - Montesquieu Volvestre

The morning will be spent at Montesquieu Volvestre taking pictures in the town centre and the local water powered flour mill. After lunch there will be an opportunity to watch and photograph the locals playing petangue. Then, taking advantage of late afternoon light, we’ll head out to the hillside church of L’Eglise de Raynaude with its famous 14 Stations of the Cross and explore the nearby village of Mas d’Azil.

Sunday 4 June - Lac de Bethmale

It’s an early start to capture the sunrise and local wildflowers followed by a leisurely breakfast. Then it’s off to the stunning Lac de Bethmale with its magnificent backdrop of trees. On the way back to Manzac we’ll visit a sabotier, a traditional clog maker.

Monday 5 June - Mirepoix

A trip to the medieval town of Mirepoix to photograph the weekly market held in the square. Timbered houses on wooden pillars surround it to create a covered arcade. We will return to Manzac d’en Bas mid-afternoon so we can download and review everyone’s pictures. There should be time to take more pictures of the wildflowers in the early evening light.

Tuesday 6 June - Local Artisans

Most of the day has been set aside to photograph some local artisans in the region. We are not quite sure who we shall get yet, but on our list are a potter, mobile blacksmith and knife maker.

Wednesday 7 June - Les Granges de Cominac

On our last full day we will visit Les Granges de Cominac, a small hamlet with an impressive collection of traditional granite barns with steep pitched roofs dotted all around the hillside meadows. Beyond the barns, the Pyrenees have formed an amazing backdrop. On our way back, we’ll spend some time at Erce to photograph a local basket maker at work.

Thursday 8 June - Final Review

In the morning, we will have a final review and show of your favourite images from the week before leaving to go back to Toulouse Blagnac Airport and home.