My favourite time of year in the foothills

I am often asked what is my favourite time of year here in the foothills of south west France and usually the answer is right now. But there really is something very special about the autumn months in the Ariège which is why (September being right now) I would say that this is my favourite time of year.

I love the abundance of fruit and vegetables at the market in Saint Girons, the colours in the valleys of the Couserans, the golden light and the calmness that descends as the holidaymakers take their leave.  Rather than the end of summer, I am more inclined to see Autumn as the start of a new cycle; maybe it is the ‘back-to-school’ thing of new pencil cases and shiny new shoes but I find it a very positive and energetic time of year.

On a more practical (and property) note, this is also of course the hunting season and by that I mean house hunting as opposed to the wild boar that my neighbours are so keen to track down now that the chasse has started.  As the summer crowds leave, a sense of calm purposefulness has descended and even the agents have begun to return my calls. Plus some real gems have started to appear on the market; house owners who have been pondering all summer whether or not to sell, seem to have finally taken the decision; thus the choice of houses for sale seems to have doubled overnight.

What’s more, the weather is generally perfect at this time of year. Every morning I open my shutters to another cloudless, blue-sky day, the outline of the Pyrenees so clear that it feels I could almost reach out and touch them.  Mornings and evenings are fresh (chilly even) but, by midday, the sun is hot on my back and I am too warm in a t-shirt; layers are the ‘mode du jour’ at this time of the year. Soon we will see the first sprinkle of snow on the highest peaks with the promise that brings of skiing at Guzet, snowshoeing around the Etang de Lers and magical, winter-wonderland walks through the woods. This weather usually lasts right through until December with the mornings and evenings getting progressively colder but the midday sun still strong enough to successfully take any chill out of the air, the ideal conditions for al fresco coffees and lunches sur la terrace.

Perfect days like these are one of the many reasons why we live in France and, more particularly, in the beautiful foothills of the Ariège.


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