Ax-les-Thermes, Midi-Pyrenees: tourism & sightseeing
Visit Ax-les-Thermes (Midi-Pyrenees, France)
Ax-les-Thermes is located south of Foix and Montsegur, near the Spanish border (and close to Andorra). It is an attractive mountain town, well known as a spa destination and also popular in the summer as a base for walking and other outdoor activities, and during the winter as a ski resort.
Ax-les-Thermes - spa town
The town has long been established as a spa town. The open air 'Bassin des Ladres' is the centre of the thermal action, with the therapeutic powers of the waters being recognised for at lest 750 years, and probably back to Roman times. Formal spa treatments are available at three developed spa centres: Couloubret, Le Teich and Le Modèle.
Originally the hospital in Ax-les-Thermes was built around the spa to help cure those who had contracted leprosy. Nowadays rheumatism and breathing difficulties are more common ailments to be treated.
The hottest of the sulphurous waters emerge at temperatures up to 77° celsius, the warmest spa water in the Pyrenees although there are many sources here, most at significantly lower temperatures.
The town centre of Ax-les-Thermes is unexceptional but pleasant to visit, with a small river running through the centre of the town. You will also find a casino in the centre of Ax-les-Thermes and other leisure facilities.
Ax-3 Domaines - ski resort
Ax-3-Domaines ski resort is above the town at several kilometres distance and features more than 70kms of pistes in total. Although it is a relatively small resort, especially when compared with the large ski centres in the Alps, you will still find quite a good choice of bars and restaurants, with several open in the summer as well as the winter.
The ski region includes Bonascre (the lowest of the resorts at 1400m altitude), les Campels and Saquet (the highest of the resorts, at altitudes up to 2300m).
The ski runs have some lovely mountain scenery and pass through the pine forests of the region so the location is a popular ski resort with families, and in common with many ski resorts Ax-3-Domaines also attracts many outdoor enthusiasts during the summer season, with children's activities etc available.
The Ax-3 Domaines resort has also featured regularly as a stage in the Tour de France.
Outdoor activities and local attractions
Visit the Ax-les-Thermes tourist office for lots of great ideas according to how adventurous you are feeling and how far off the beaten track you plan to explore.
Although Ax-les-Thermes and the Ax-3 Domaines ski resort have much to offer visitors you will undoubtedly be keen to explore the countryside around the town. There is a great deal to enjoy and discover in the surrounding mountains and valleys, with some very fine scenery, hikes for all abilities, and many small lakes to discover between the high peaks.
The individual scenic highlights are too many to list here, with numerous lakes and waterfalls, forest trails and mountain views to be enjoyed. We particularly recommend the Natural Reserve of the Orlu valley, and the caves at Grotte de Lombrives.
Enthusiasts of cathar history can visit Montsegur castle to the north of Ax-les-Thermes.
Map of Ax-les-Thermes and places to visit
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Address: Ax-les-Thermes, Foix, Ariege, Midi-Pyrenees, 09110, France || GPS: latitude 42.7203, longitude 1.83972
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Sightseeing & tourist attractions to visit nearby
- Cirque du Sisca: site of natural beauty (15km)
- Lac du Bouillouses: site of natural beauty (21km)
- Lac des Bouillouses: site of natural beauty (21km)
- Fontaine Intermittente de Fontestorbes: site of natural beauty (22km)
- Pyrenees Catalanes: regional natural parc (31km)
- Gorges de la Pierre-Lys: site of natural beauty (32km)
- Mont-Louis citadelle (Vauban fortifications): heritage site (33km)
Market days in Ax-les-Thermes, France
A seasonal market is held in Ax-les-Thermes on Thursday.
Regular market(s) are held in Ax-les-Thermes each Tuesday & Saturday. (Markets are held in the morning unless stated.)
The French version of this page is at Ax-les-Thermes (Francais)