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Pla de Madame by Artax pond

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From Gourbit, a steep ascent leads to the Artax pond, before joining the ridge that leads to Pla de Madame, the highest point of the hike. Continuing along the ridge, you reach the Roc de Querquéou. The views to the south of the Pyrenees and the Montcalm massif are spectacular. The route continues over the Courtal Terrous ridges to the Col de Lastris, facing the Tabe massif, before returning to the starting point. A beautiful loop, accessible and varied, but obviously very busy, especially at this time of year.

Passage devant l’étang d’Artax

Technical summary

Type ✦ Hiking
Location ✦ Gourbit, Courbière valley
Region ✦ Haute-Ariège
Country ✦ France
Max altitude ✦ 1906 m
Distance ✦ 12.4 km
Vertical drop ✦ 1080 m
Difficulty ✦ E3/T2/R2
Duration ✦ 5h to 6h
Interest ✦ ★★

Access to the place

At the large traffic circle at the entrance to Tarascon-sur-Ariège from Toulouse, take the 2nd right towards Banat and Gourbit. The small road climbs, passes Banat and then Gourbit a little further up. Go through the village and follow the signs for Etang d'Artax. The road becomes a track and climbs a little to end up at a parking lot on the right.

Itinerary description

Hiking to the start 2'

On leaving the parking lot, take the road/trail and climb a little to find the junction marking the start and return of the loop. On the left is the signpost to Col de Lastris, the return path, and on the right, the signpost to Étang d'Artax.

Course 4h à 4h30

The route forms a fairly straightforward loop, and the trail markings help with orientation: yellow and red GRP Tour du Pic des Trois Seigneurs at the very start and from the Col de Lastris on the return, yellow for the rest of the route. The climbs include steep, sustained sections, but are not particularly technically demanding.

Section 1: L'étang d'Artax

The path is paved with rock and climbs gradually through undergrowth. Near the torrent, the path veers right to cross the ridge and climb up the other side. Further up, you come across a forest track which you follow to the right, and then a second, larger track. Quickly leave this track to the right for a path that climbs towards the Artax pond (signposted). This path follows a sort of ridge in the undergrowth, but as it becomes increasingly clear, you can see the ridges above. After crossing a metal barrier, the trail continues on completely open ground, facing the upper ridges. It climbs a little more to finally reach the Cabane d'Artax and the pond just behind it.
Part 2: Pla de Madame and Roc de Querquéou

Follow the yellow-marked path along the north shore of the pond, up an obvious ramp to the east. Steep section to negotiate up to a first landing, then another steep section to aim for the ridge at around 1950 between Pic de Boucarle and Pla de Madame. On the ridge, climb a little further to reach the summit of Pla de Madame at 1926m. Spectacular panoramic view, facing Montcalm. To reach the Roc de Querquéou, descend on the east side and follow the ridge which rises a little just before the Roc marked by a pile of boulders, as its name suggests.
Part 3: Crêtes du Courtal Terrous

Past the rocky pile at Roc de Querquéou, follow the ridge eastwards, which descends gently and then bends increasingly to the north. The entrance to the Vallée d'Ax, the Roc de Calamès and the Massif de Tabe in the background are all in view. The Courtal Terrous ridges end on a steeper section that plunges over a carpet of gispet towards the Col de Lastris.


From the Col de Lastris, plunge left along the yellow and red GRP path. Soon you're on a wide forest track. It descends steadily and you reach a forest track at a sharp right-hand bend. Walk about 100m to leave this track on a path marked GRP which will take you back to Gourbit.

Map & topo

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