Pyrénées palace (Picture: City of Pau)
True to the Tour de France since 1930, Pau has become a mainstay of the cycling race, thanks both to its geographical location and to its marvelous infrastructures. Pau will hold its 61st stage in 2007, and only one other city besides Paris has done better. Proud of its past and nonetheless in tune with modernity, nestled in a lush green setting, Pau has turned an early twentieth century Palace into a state-of-the-art conference center, and a neo-gothic convent into a dance and music school. Not to mention one of the first modern concert halls in France and a sports arena where the pro basketball team l’Élan Béarnais has pulled off its share of exploits. The first ever jai-alai arena in Europe opened in March 2006, near the race track. Betting on competitions takes place on a regular basis. City of a thousand palm trees, lying close to the legendary Pyrenean passes, to Spain and to the Atlantic, Pau extends its warmest welcome!
Castel Harbour (Picture: City of Castelsarrasin)
Nestled on the fringes of Gascony and Quercy, halfway between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, Castelsarrasin has long been a thoroughfare and place of exchange. Both industrial and agricultural, it attracts large companies providing jobs for the local economy, and plays a major part in promoting the local produce, notably through its weekly markets (for meats, fowl and flowers). With the Garonne, Tarn and Canal of the Two Seas flowing through the town, Castelsarrasin has taken up eco-tourism, with the added asset of its longstanding culinary tradition. Hometown of singer Pierre Perret and journalist Gaston Bénac, founder of the Grand Prix des Nations, Castelsarrasin is hosting the Tour de France for the 3rd time.