For many spectators, the Tour de France route is an opportunity to discover the riches of the regions it passes through. The tourist guide, published in electronic format this year, lists the outstanding sites of cultural or architectural heritage for each stage.
Download the tourist guide of the stage(.pdf, 11 pages)
With eight counties and a surface area of 45,000 km², Midi-Pyrenees is France’s vastest region (with French Guiana) and is bigger than Denmark, Belgium or Switzerland. This immense area which is bordered by the Pyrenees Mountains to the south and the Massif Central to the north east is obviously very diverse even if the sunny climate, the love of gastronomy, rugby and the capacity to welcome visitors are attractions that all of the counties have to offer.
The region’s economy is dominated by the dynamism of Toulouse, the regional capital, whose activity influences those of the other neighbouring major cites, Pau or Carcassonne. The Pink City is the third biggest student city in France and is also the French capital of the aeronautics industry.
In the rest of the region, the arms industry (Tarbes) or the pharmaceutical industry (Castres, Agen) are both leading activities. However agriculture dominates the region making Midi-Pyrénées the country’s second leading agricultural centre.
Tourism is also rapidly developing and the Pyrenees’ many winter ski resorts attract alpine sports and nature enthusiasts alike.
This spa resort with 80 natural springs has been functioning since the Middle Ages. During the winter, skiers can also take advantage of its extensive ski area.
Here lovers of cave art will be able to satisfy their hunger: the mural paintings of the Cave of Niaux are some of the major examples of its kind.
On the outskirts of the village, a slight detour to Mirabat Castle will allow visitors to take advantage of the panoramic and spectacular view of the region.
Sub-prefectures: Pamiers, Saint-Girons
Claude Sans, the chairman of the association, “Autrefois le Couserans” organises an annual rural parade in Saint-Girons, his native village.
“Since 2005, I have presided over this association. Its objective is to create rural activities, allowing people to experience again, the ones with which they were familiar as children. Every year, on the first weekend in August, we organise a weekend of entertainment, with a parade on Sunday morning which is also called “Autrefois le Couserans”. It brings together old agricultural machinery, horse drawn carriages, animals and almost over 700 extras dressed in period costumes. Roughly 15,000 people attend the parade and 20,000 visitors come to Saint-Girons during weekend. I am a typical product of Saint-Girons, and of Couserans. It is a preserved region where visitors can go on many hikes.
Saint-Girons borders Spain, and I remember during my childhood that many Spanish refugees came to settle here. It is a very dynamic town with regards to community life, with a lively centre around the “Pont Vieux” (Old Bridge) or the River Salat. The charming village of St. Lizier is a stone’s throw from here and has two cathedrals, of which one has a beautiful cloister. As far as gastronomy is concerned, traditional soups such as “azinat” have been adapted by local restaurant owners to appeal to modern palates and I also recommend the cheese, “tomme des Pyrénées”. I am interested in the Tour de France as a spectator. But a several years ago, I also followed the “Ronde de l’Isard” race with interest. It allowed many riders to begin their cycling career before going on to succeed in the Tour de France.”