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View towards the town and the Camp de Gramou bridge over the Ariège
View towards the town and the Camp de Gramou bridge over the Ariège
Coat of arms of Ax-les-Thermes
Coat of arms
Ax-les-Thermes is located in France
Location within Occitanie region
Ax-les-Thermes is located in Occitanie
Coordinates: 42°43′13″N 1°50′23″E / 42.7203°N 1.8397°E / 42.7203; 1.8397Coordinates: 42°43′13″N 1°50′23″E / 42.7203°N 1.8397°E / 42.7203; 1.8397
IntercommunalityCC Haute-Ariège
 • Mayor (2014–2020) Dominique Fourcade
Area130.26 km2 (11.68 sq mi)
Population (2014)21,244
 • Density41/km2 (110/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+2 (CEST)
INSEE/Postal code09032 /09110
Elevation697–2,411 m (2,287–7,910 ft)
(avg. 720 m or 2,360 ft)
1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km2 (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries. 2 Population without double counting: residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.

Ax-les-Thermes (Occitan: Acs) is a commune in the Ariège department in the Occitanie region of south-western France.

The inhabitants of the commune are known as Axéens or Axéennes.[1]

The commune has been awarded one flower by the National Council of Towns and Villages in Bloom in the Competition of cities and villages in Bloom.[2]


The Oriège at Ax-les-Thermes

Ax-les-Thermes is situated in the Pyrénées, close to Andorra, and stands on the confluence of the Oriège, Ariège and Lauze rivers.[3] some 75 km west of Perpignan and 35 km north-east of Andorra la Vella. Access to the commune is by Route nationale N20 from Garanou in the north-west which passes through the village then south through the commune to Mérens-les-Vals. The D613 goes north from the village to Sorgeat and the D25 branches from this to go east to Ascou and Mijanès. The railway line from Foix passes through the commune with a station just north-west of the village. The line continues south to Merens-les-Vals. Apart from the village there are the hamlets of Premiere Bazerque, Deuxieme Bazerque, Troisieme Bazerque, Petches, and Ax-Bonascre to the south. The Ax 3 Domaines Ski resort is located at Ax-Bonascre south-west of the village and is accessed by the D82 road from the village. The commune is alpine in nature with extensive forests and rugged terrain.[4]

The Ariège river flows through the commune from south to north at the start of its journey to join the Garonne at Portet-sur-Garonne. The Ruisseau des Estagnols rises in the south of the commune and flows north to join the Ariège in the south of the commune. The Ruisseau de Risl and the Ruisseau de Font Frède both rise in the east of the commune and flow west to join the Ariège. The Oriège flows from the east to join the Ariège in the village and the Lauze flows from the east to join the Ariège just north of the confluence of the Oriège.

The Spa[edit]

Ax (from Latin Aquae – water; French Thermes – hot springs), situated at an elevation of 700 metres (2,300 ft), is well known for its sulphurous hot springs (25 to 78 °C or 77 to 172 °F). The waters, which were used by the Romans, were historically claimed to treat rheumatism, skin diseases, and other maladies.[3] The springs were developed in the medieval period on the orders of Saint Louis to treat soldiers returning from the Crusades afflicted with leprosy. From the 19th century, a spa tourism industry developed.

The Bassin des Ladres (Lepers' Pond), in the centre of the commune, is fed by hot springs supplying water from the ground at a temperature of 77 °C. The best known fountain is the "fountain of cannons". A hospital is situated only one metre from the basin. The pond was built by Roger IV, Count of Foix, during the reign of Saint Louis in 1260. Every year on St John's Day the people of Ax-les-Thermes, having been daubed with ashes, bathe in the Lepers' Pond for fun.


View of the commune in 1910


Arms of Ax-les-Thermes
These were the arms of Roger IV, Count of Foix, who built a leprosy hospital and the bassin des Ladres in 1260.[5]

Or, 3 pales of Gules.


The Town Hall

List of Successive Mayors[6]

From To Name Party Position
1800 1813 Jean François Gaspard de Fornier de Clauselles
1977 1989 Alain Aybram
1989 1995 Gérard Balista
1995 2001 Augustin Bonrepaux
2001 2008 Alain Chenebeau
2008 2014 Pierre Peyronne
2014 2020 Dominique Fourcade

(Not all data is known)

Panorama of Ax-les-Thermes


In 2010 the commune had 1,363 inhabitants. The evolution of the number of inhabitants is known from the population censuses conducted in the commune since 1793. From the 21st century, a census of communes with fewer than 10,000 inhabitants is held every five years, unlike larger communes that have a sample survey every year.[Note 1]

Population change (See database)
1793 1800 1806 1821 1831 1836 1841 1846 1851
1,554 1,504 1,773 1,863 1,927 1,991 1,908 1,881 1,843
1856 1861 1866 1872 1876 1881 1886 1891 1896
1,710 1,679 1,632 1,693 1,695 1,746 1,813 1,609 1,545
1901 1906 1911 1921 1926 1931 1936 1946 1954
1,503 1,480 1,624 1,563 1,330 1,338 1,312 1,501 1,422
1962 1968 1975 1982 1990 1999 2006 2010 -
1,628 1,688 1,562 1,478 1,489 1,441 1,498 1,363 -

Sources : Ldh/EHESS/Cassini until 1962, INSEE database from 1968 (population without double counting and municipal population from 2006)

The Bridge in the town
Le Teich Thermal Spa
Population of Ax-les-Thermes


The "Lepers' Pond" in Ax-les-Thermes, fed by hot springs
The casino

Local economic activity is based mainly on livestock (cattle and sheep), Hydrotherapy (there are 60 sources at temperatures ranging from 18 to 78 °C, feeding three spas: Couloubret, Modèle, and Teich. The waters treat especially sciatica, rheumatism and certain respiratory diseases), winter sports, and tourism in general. Its proximity to Andorra enables cross-border shopping. The Ax 3 Domaines winter sports resort is situated in the commune and served as the finish line for stage 14 of the 2010 Tour de France.

Culture and heritage[edit]

Civil heritage[edit]

The commune has two sites that are registered as historical monuments:

  • The Bassin des Ladres (Leper's Pond) (13th century)Logo monument historique - rouge sans texte.svg[7] is fed by hot spring water at a temperature of 77 °C.
  • The Teich Park Ornamental Garden (1838)Logo monument historique - rouge sans texte.svg[8]
Picture Gallery

Religious heritage[edit]

  • The Church of Saint-Jerome (formerly the Chapel of the Blue Penitents) contains several items that are registered as historical objects:
    • An Altar Painting: Christ on the Cross (1841)Logo monument historique - noir sans texte.svg[9]
    • The Choir Enclosure (18th century)Logo monument historique - noir sans texte.svg[10]
    • The Front of the Altar (18th century)Logo monument historique - noir sans texte.svg[11]
    • A Tabernacle and 6 statuettes (18th century)Logo monument historique - noir sans texte.svg[12]
    • The Altar, Retable, 2 statues, Painting: Saint Jerome, Saint Madeleine, Christ on the Cross (18th century)Logo monument historique - noir sans texte.svg[13]
  • The Church of Saint-Vincent contains several items that are registered as historical objects:
    • A Chalice (16th century)Logo monument historique - noir sans texte.svg[14]
    • A Crucifix from the Blue Penitents (1650)Logo monument historique - noir sans texte.svg[15]
    • A Chalice (16th century)Logo monument historique - noir sans texte.svg[16]
    • A Painting: Saint Vincent in Ecstasy (18th century)Logo monument historique - noir sans texte.svg[17]
    • A Bronze Bell (1512)Logo monument historique - noir sans texte.svg[18]
    • A Painting: The mystical marriage of Saint Catherine (17th century)Logo monument historique - noir sans texte.svg[19]
    • A Painting: Christ on the Cross with Saint Madeleine and the Virgin at his feet (1875)Logo monument historique - noir sans texte.svg[20]

Notable people linked to the commune[edit]

  • Saint Udaut (405-452), priest and martyr
  • Peire Autier, Albigensian leader
  • Louis Gareau (1769-1813), General of the Armies of the Republic and the Empire
  • Gatien Marcailhou (1807-1855), composer and "inventor" of the waltz. He was the first teacher of Gabriel Fauré. Hius most famous composition, Indiana, inspired Camille Claudel in his group La Valse.
  • Pierre Bertrand de Mérignon[21]
  • Pierre Roussel (1742-1802), writer and doctor, born in Ax-les-Thermes.[22]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ At the beginning of the 21st century, the methods of identification have been modified by Law No. 2002-276 of 27 February 2002 Archived 6 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine., the so-called "law of local democracy" and in particular Title V "census operations" allows, after a transitional period running from 2004 to 2008, the annual publication of the legal population of the different French administrative districts. For communes with a population greater than 10,000 inhabitants, a sample survey is conducted annually, the entire territory of these communes is taken into account at the end of the period of five years. The first "legal population" after 1999 under this new law came into force on 1 January 2009 and was based on the census of 2006.


  1. ^ Inhabitants of Ariège (in French)
  2. ^ Ax-les-Thermes in the Competition for Towns and Villages in Bloom Archived December 10, 2014, at the Wayback Machine. (in French)
  3. ^ a b Chisholm 1911.
  4. ^ Google Maps
  5. ^ Arms of France (in French)
  6. ^ List of Mayors of France (in French)
  7. ^ Ministry of Culture, Mérimée PA00093770 Bassin des Ladres (in French)
  8. ^ Ministry of Culture, Mérimée IA09000046 Teich Park Ornamental Garden (in French)
  9. ^ Ministry of Culture, Palissy IM09000112 Altar Painting: Christ on the Cross (in French)
  10. ^ Ministry of Culture, Palissy PM09000064 Choir Enclosure (in French)Camera aabb.svg
  11. ^ Ministry of Culture, Palissy PM09000063 Front of the Altar (in French)
  12. ^ Ministry of Culture, Palissy PM09000056 Tabernacle and 6 statuettes (in French)
  13. ^ Ministry of Culture, Palissy PM09000062 Altar, Retable, 2 statues, Painting: Saint Jerome, Saint Madeleine, Christ on the Cross (in French)Camera aabb.svg
  14. ^ Ministry of Culture, Palissy PM09000869 Chalice (in French)
  15. ^ Ministry of Culture, Palissy PM09000061 Crucifix (in French)Camera aabb.svg
  16. ^ Ministry of Culture, Palissy PM09000060 Chalice (in French)Camera aabb.svg
  17. ^ Ministry of Culture, Palissy PM09000059 Painting: Saint Vincent in Ecstasy (in French)Camera aabb.svg
  18. ^ Ministry of Culture, Palissy PM09000058 Bronze Bell (in French)Camera aabb.svg
  19. ^ Ministry of Culture, Palissy PM09000057 Painting: The mystical marriage of Saint Catherine (in French)Camera aabb.svg
  20. ^ Ministry of Culture, Palissy IM09000111 Christ on the Cross with Saint Madeleine and the Virgin at his feet (in French)
  21. ^ Pierre Brun, A Hellenist of the 17th century: Pierre Bertrand de Mérignon from Ax-les-Thermes, Annales du Midi, 1894, p. 327-348 (in French)
  22. ^ François Xavier de Feller, Historical Dictionary…, 1823, p. 403 (in French)

External links[edit]

  • Ax-les-Thermes official website (in French)
  • Vallées d'Ax Tourism website (in French)
  • Tourist Information website for Ax les Thermes (in French)
  • Ax 3 Domaines ski resort official website (in French)
  • Ax-les-Thermes Green Station website (in French)
  • Ax-les-Thermes school website (in French)
  • Ax-les-Thermes on Lion1906
  • Ax on the 1750 Cassini Map
  • Ax-les-Thermes on the INSEE website (in French)
  • INSEE (in French)
  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Ax-les-Thermes". Encyclopædia Britannica. 3 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 68.