Ax 3 Domaines

Back to the roman baths

A new hydrotherapy centre based in Ax, les Bains du Couloubret, is drawing its inspiration from the Roman period. Established in the old spa of Couloubret, whose neo-Gothic front wall has been preserved, the new complex combines waters and leisure over 7 acres. The setting has been decorated the Roman way with marble, pillars, frescos and mosaics. An ideal place to relax, Roman style, after skiing or trekking.


Since it opened four years ago, the centre hosted more than 400,000 guests and expects to pass the half-million barrier by the end of 2013.

Web sites

Le Teich, Ax-les-Thermes thermal spa (Ariège) © Ji-Elle
Four previous stages
Population: 1,500
Altitude: 1,400 metres
Ariege department
Specialities: water, mounjetado (cassoulet), azinat.
Economy: Ski, tourism, hydrotherapy.
Sport: skiing, mountain biking.
Motto: Too strong nature! (Ax valleys) The nature white (Ax 3-D)
Celebrities: Counts of Foix, Pierre Authie (cathar), Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie (French historian).
Events: Adventure film festival (May), medieval festival in Montaillou, Oxygen for the ears (music), national festival of the Merens horse.
Labels: Green resort, disables friendly resort.

Ax 3 Domaines

  • 452

    Martyrdom of St Udault, patron saint of Ax-les-Thermes.
  • 987

    Arnaud de Carcassonne hands his lands to the Lagrasse abbey should he die childless. The town is including in the County of Foix.
  • 1241

    Roger, Count of Foix, grants privileges to the inhabitants of Ax after its destruction by fire.
  • 1260

    King Louis IX orders the creation of a leprosarium in Ax to cure infected crusaders.
  • 1311

    Pierre Authie, a Cathar solicitor is burnt. In 1308, the population of Montaillou were arrested amidst harsh repression against the Cathars.
  • 1888

    Train arrives in Ax.
  • 1955

    Construction of the Saquet lift.
  • 1960

    First constructions on Plateau de Bonascre.
  • 2001

    First Tour finish on Plateau de Bonascre.
  • 2003

    The resort takes the name of Ax 3-Domaines.
old lift to Le Saquet with the road and railway below. © Antoine Blondinlower station of the lift to Le Saquet - © Antoine BlondinPlaque retracing the history of the resort - © Antoine Blondin
Four previous stages
Population: 1,500
Altitude: 1,400 metres
Ariege department
Specialities: water, mounjetado (cassoulet), azinat.
Economy: Ski, tourism, hydrotherapy.
Sport: skiing, mountain biking.
Motto: Too strong nature! (Ax valleys) The nature white (Ax 3-D)
Celebrities: Counts of Foix, Pierre Authie (cathar), Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie (French historian).
Events: Adventure film festival (May), medieval festival in Montaillou, Oxygen for the ears (music), national festival of the Merens horse.
Labels: Green resort, disables friendly resort.

Web sites

Ax 3-domaines and cycling

AX-les-Thermes has hosted the Tour since 1933 but the ski resort of Ax 3-Domaines had to wait for 2001 to see the race climb all the way to its slopes. The finish then took place on the Plateau de Bonascre, one of the three “domains” combined to form the resort.

In 2003, a withdrawn but determined Spanish climber revealed himself by snatching the first of his three stage victories on the Tour. Carlos Sastre, who was then at the service of Tyler Hamilton, had received the go-ahead from his team director Bjarne Riis after the American broke his collarbone. On the finish line, the gentle rider from El Baracco produced a dummy and took it to his lips to dedicate his victory to his daughter Claudia, then aged two. A champion was born. Five years later, Carlos Sastre won the Tour.

Ten years after Sastre's stage win, the riders will tackle a finale they know well:  in 2010, France's Christophe Riblon had seized his chance to go solo and win his first stage win on the Tour.

Carlos Sastre crossed the line with a dummy in the stage Toulouse-Ax Les 3 Domaines, Tour de France de 2003 - © Presse Sports/ BivilleChristophe Riblon, stage Revel/Ax 3 Domaines, Tour de France 2010 - © Presse Sports/Papon
Four previous stages
Population: 1,500
Altitude: 1,400 metres
Ariege department
Specialities: water, mounjetado (cassoulet), azinat.
Economy: Ski, tourism, hydrotherapy.
Sport: skiing, mountain biking.
Motto: Too strong nature! (Ax valleys) The nature white (Ax 3-D)
Celebrities: Counts of Foix, Pierre Authie (cathar), Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie (French historian).
Events: Adventure film festival (May), medieval festival in Montaillou, Oxygen for the ears (music), national festival of the Merens horse.
Labels: Green resort, disables friendly resort.

Web sites

Le bassin des Ladres (Lepers basin)

Eight metres long and 11 metres wide, the Lepers basin is filled with 40 degrees hot water. Built around 1250, it was part of the leprosarium created by King Luis IX to cure lepers returning from the Crusades.

Bassin des Ladres © Yeza
Four previous stages
Population: 1,500
Altitude: 1,400 metres
Ariege department
Specialities: water, mounjetado (cassoulet), azinat.
Economy: Ski, tourism, hydrotherapy.
Sport: skiing, mountain biking.
Motto: Too strong nature! (Ax valleys) The nature white (Ax 3-D)
Celebrities: Counts of Foix, Pierre Authie (cathar), Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie (French historian).
Events: Adventure film festival (May), medieval festival in Montaillou, Oxygen for the ears (music), national festival of the Merens horse.
Labels: Green resort, disables friendly resort.

Web sites

The last cathars

Close to Ax, the village of Montaillou, topped by the ruins of its castle, became one of the world's most famous medieval villages thanks to the book written in 1975 by historian Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie. Montaillou: The Promised Land of Error became a bestseller. It reads like a mystery novel as Le Roy Ladurie used the writings of investigating bishop Jacques Fournier, who would later become pope under the name of Benoit XII. A true “Maigret of the souls”, Fournier heard all the village inhabitants suspected of being heretics in 1308 and his investigation led to many of them being burnt or jailed.
 
The local priest, Pierre Clergue, is a fascinating character as he turns out to be a Cathar but also a womaniser, madly in love with the village first lady, Beatrice de Planissoles. The book's success attracted thousands of tourists and historians to Montaillou and the village hosts an annual medieval festival in which the Fournier investigations, now kept in the Vatican, are read to the public.

View on the village of Montaillou and its church - © XfigpowerRuins of the castle of Montaillou © Xfigpower
Four previous stages
Population: 1,500
Altitude: 1,400 metres
Ariege department
Specialities: water, mounjetado (cassoulet), azinat.
Economy: Ski, tourism, hydrotherapy.
Sport: skiing, mountain biking.
Motto: Too strong nature! (Ax valleys) The nature white (Ax 3-D)
Celebrities: Counts of Foix, Pierre Authie (cathar), Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie (French historian).
Events: Adventure film festival (May), medieval festival in Montaillou, Oxygen for the ears (music), national festival of the Merens horse.
Labels: Green resort, disables friendly resort.

Web sites

Jersey wearers after the stage 21

Classifications after the stage 21

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