In the Ariège department in the far South of France, nature lovers will fall for the beautiful Lac de Montbel. Although it is an artificial lake, created in 1985 for irrigation purposes, it naturally merges into the panoramic scenery. For those who are up for some action, there is swimming, hiking, cycling, canoeing, sailing, and more under the watchful eye of the surrounding mountains and hills.
Rives de Léran
Although Lac de Montbel is stretched out over 570 hectares, it only has two official beaches. However, there are numerous wild beaches around. It is a true paradise for those who are looking for a serene spot to relax! You can find a tourist map (in French) of the area here. The first beach I visited was along the ‘Rives de Léran’. There was some basic entertainment, such as a restaurant, various nautical sports rentals, horse riding and a treetop adventure park.
Rives de Montbel
The second beach, simply called ‘Rives de Montbel’ had more of a beach feeling. However, even when I visited the lake in July, there weren’t many people around. If you ask me that is exactly the charm of Lac de Montbel. At Rives de Montbel, you can also rent out canoes, kayaks, and pedal boats. Although the choice doesn’t seem as good as at Rives de Léran, where you also can rent out surfboards and sailing boats. This site has a bouncing park though. Well, I guess you have to try the two beaches to get the best of everything.
At both beaches, I was pleasantly surprised by the clarity of the water. It was of such pureness that the bluish and greenish hues looked like a painter’s palette. In some spots, the water was a Caribbean turquoise! The area is also the home of many bird and fish species. You can even hike around the lake. It is quite a long walk, covering 16 kilometres in about 4 hours, but you can always have a refreshing break by taking a plunge in the lake. Seems like heaven on earth to me!