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In Comminges, surrounded by nature

the essential
Leaving from Boulogne-sur-Gesse, the Côtes de Bieil and Montoussé path crosses a Natura 2000 area rich in diversity. This family walk allows you to meet many protected species, including orchids and butterflies.

Located on the borders of the departments of Haute-Garonne, Gers and Hautes-Pyrénées, to the northwest of Boulogne-sur-Gesse, the Côtes de Bieil and Montoussé overlook the Gimone valley and the lake of the same name. They form a small group of hills and valleys which shelter wet meadows, dry moors with junipers and groves of oaks. The diversity of landscapes, representative of bocage environments on dry hillsides and the protected species it shelters, have earned this site of less than 98 hectares its classification as a Natura 2000 area. A 4 km hiking trail allows you to cross it while enjoying plus a beautiful panorama of the Pyrenees. It starts at the town hall square in Boulogne-sur-Gesse and is one of the twenty destinations detailed in the Hiking Guide just published by Haute-Garonne Tourisme. At the entrance to the site, old oaks allow the first encounters with the guests of this preserved space. Great capricorn and stag beetle have taken up residence there. These two nocturnal insects are easily recognizable, the first by its long antennae and its slender body, the second, in the case of the males, by its mandibles which recall the antlers of deer. They can be seen between May and August, especially at dusk. The walk continues offering beautiful views of the Gers countryside, the Gimone lake and the snow-capped peaks in the distance. Once in the wet meadows, we enter the territory of the orchids. About twenty different species, whose blooms extend from March to the beginning of July, populate the valleys of the Côtes de Bieil and Montoussé. The pyramidal orchid, the purple orchid and the jester orchid rub shoulders with the fragrant orchid, which is particularly precious since it is protected. Going down to the lake, you can also hope to come across a black woodpecker, a water rail or a gray heron, all of whom are fans of wetlands.

The territory of the wild thyme

Throughout this family walk, you have to keep your eyes open to spot the other inhabitants of the place, the black kite, several of which are nesting on the site, the red-backed shrike, which has the strange habit of impaling its prey on the thorns of brambles but also the azure of wild thyme. Protected, this blue butterfly with black-spotted wings, which flies in June-July in dry lawns and moors, has a very particular biological cycle. The female lays her eggs on a host flower, wild thyme or oregano. After hatching, the larvae fall to the ground and are adopted by ants of the species Myrmica sabuleti who feed them for several months in the anthill. The butterfly comes out of it as an adult, after its metamorphosis.

The fortified town of Boulogne-sur-Gesse

After this very natural walk, you can extend the moment in the alleys of Boulogne-sur-Gesse. This bastide of 1286, whose builders, the Cistercian monks of the abbey of Nizors, wished success by baptizing it with the name of Bologna, in Italy, has retained the regular plan of new towns. It has the particularity of hosting in the same block the church of Notre-Dame de l’Assomption whose bell tower-porch has been listed since 1950 and the central hall which houses the town hall and the tourist office. You can find other ideas for walks in the Boulonnais area, including the so-called “Little train” path. This 8 km loop takes the eight-arched viaduct which once supported the Toulouse-Blajan railway line, closed in 1949. Today, it overlooks the lake of Boulogne-sur-Gesse. This reservoir on the Coucut stream is open to fishermen. Swimming is prohibited there but a nautical center has been set up on its banks and the swimming pool, on the edge of the body of water, is accessible during the summer period.

Johanna Decorse

Practice

Yellow markings. 4.2 km loop. Level: Easy. Ascent: 93m.Information in the Haute-Garonne hiking guide, free and available from Haute-Garonne Tourisme 14, rue Bayard in Toulouse, at Les Olivétains in Saint-Bertrand-de-Comminges, at the Comptoir du Lauragais in the Port area -Lauragais in Avignonet-Lauragais and in all tourist offices in the department. Hiker’s route and charter to prepare your outing for download on https://www.randohautegaronne.com

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