Here are a couple of images of our soon-to-be new home town in the Ariège, Ax-les-Thermes.
It’s a wee ski town and thermal resort, about 90 minutes from Toulouse. Initially I thought it was way too small for us, but a chance connection with a family who spent two years there had me pretty convinced we should give it a shot.
I work on the basis that if the kids are happy, we’ll all be happy, so I wanted a town where they could pursue their interests. Horse riding, hip hop dance, rock climbing, rugby and skiing – tick tick tick tick tick. The schools are small – 80 for the primary school and 200 for the middle school, so I reasoned it would be easier for the kids to get to know others. As an added bonus, the teachers have been really welcoming, emailing us to say ‘bienvenue’ as soon as they heard (via the mairie or town hall) that we were coming. For me, that sealed the deal.
We are told there are not a lot of Anglophone expats there, it’s a resort more favoured by French and Spanish visitors and there is only one other native English speaker in the boys’ school – so they won’t be able to speak English all day long. There’s a gondola up from town to the ski resort Ax-3-Domaines and the collège has a dedicated ski programme for top skiiers. Being a ski town it should still be lively all winter, and who doesn’t LOVE a good soak in a thermal hot pool at the end of a day on the slopes?
We live near beautiful beaches here in New Zealand, so we wanted a different experience for this time away. We all love mountain biking and skiing and back in the day Simon and I did a lot of hiking too. We’re looking forward to lots of good outdoorsy family time.
The Ariège is one of the least-populated areas of France, but rich in history, with lots of medieval castles like the one below and Cathar sites to explore, so there is plenty to keep us busy.