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Lac des Montagnes, also known as Barrage des Montagnes, is a small artificial reservoir in the Midi-Pyrenees region of France, close to the Spanish border. It has a surface area of about 10 acres. Facilities include mini golf, a handicap-accessible entrance point, swimming beaches with lifeguards (on the northeast section), and picnic tables.
Swimming, sailing, boating, and fishing are just a handful of the relaxing pastimes at Barrage de Montagnes. Canoeing and kayaking are other notable diversions; paddlers can drift along the peaceful shores of Lac de Montagnes or the winding waters of the nearby Tarn, Thore, and Agout Rivers. To the delight of local anglers, wild trout populate the sparkling streams of the Gijon Valley. In addition, pike and perch are commonly found throughout the area, as are carp. Night fly fishing for carp is allowed in certain places. Permits are required for any angling in the area.
Hiking and walking trails of varying lengths and skill levels can be found throughout the Lac des Montagnes region, like the GR7 walking trail leading from the Vosges to the Pyrenees. One of the most intense paths is the GR71, which traverses the entire country of France from north to south.
Cycling and mountain biking trails are also plentiful in the Lac des Montagnes area, which features 10 long-distance routes and countless shorter pathways. One circuit begins at Albi and winds for 27 miles through rolling hills and picturesque Gaillac vineyards. Many of these same cycling and walking routes can be used for horseback riding; there are at least 8 equine centers nearby.
Lac des Montagnes is known as a family-friendly destination. Go karts, theme parks, and day spas are just a short drive away in the city of Mazamet. Wine tasting, horseback riding, and ice skating are just a few of the many other diversions that this beautiful area has to offer. Sport enthusiasts can take their pick playing rugby, tennis, or a round of golf at the 18-hole championship course. Both children and adults can't get enough of the three animal parks - an Australian zoo, an African safari park, and a bird zoo - can all be found within driving distance of the lake. There is also a water park less than 20 minutes away in the city of Castres.
For thrill seekers, canyoning and rock climbing are possible at the Montagnes Noires, or the Black Mountains. This ancient range is over 330 million years old and stretches for 60 kilometers. Its tallest peak is the Menez-Hom, at 1,083 feet. At this altitude it is possible to participate in hang gliding, or just absorb the stunning views of the Bay of Douarnenez, the Crozon Peninsula, and the Alder Estuary.
During the winter, the ski resort at Formigueres - roughly an hour and a half away from Lac des Montagnes - features a snow park, ski lifts, and a ski school. Another attraction within the vicinity is Carcassonne, a medieval city fortified by beautiful stone towers and brimming with fountains, courtyards, churches, and gardens dating back to antiquity.
Also near Lac des Montagnes, you'll find the Parc Regional de Haut Languedoc. This reserve affords an opportunity to hike to the Pic de Nore, a spectacular mountain peak that boasts breathtaking views. The immense park is composed of 2,605 square kilometers divided into seven areas. It is home to at least 240 species of birds, and a human population of 82,000.
Each year, several festivals and events are held in the Lac des Montagnes area and around Mazamet. A racing rally known as the Annual Rallye Montagne Noire is held during July and August. At the yearly Fanfare Sans Frontieres music festival, hundreds of bands from many countries worldwide perform for a solid week to the delight of generally young and enthusiastic fans. Cycling races are also held year-round, such as the Mazamet Nocturnal Cycle Race.
There are endless things to see and do in the city of Mazamet, just 10 minutes to the north of Barrage des Montagnes. Situated on the northern side of the Montagne Noire Mountains, this area was once renowned as an internationally recognized industrial trading center (circa mid-1800s). Here you'll find numerous bars and restaurants, shopping areas, and even a game and toy museum with over 1,200 wooden items from around the world. Three days a week, this town hosts a fresh food and flower market - a great place to come for a taste of genuine French culture.
Lac des Montagnes is just an hour away from the beaches of the Mediterranean Sea, so visitors can alternate between salt and freshwater outings. Myriad gites - small, furnished vacation cottages in France - and real estate properties are available within walking distance of Lac des Montagnes. Many feature private gardens, terraces and swimming pools. Barrage des Montagnes is unquestionably the perfect place for an authentic, laid-back French vacation.
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