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, 13 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.
The sound of the two spring water rivers which pass through this village adds to its typically Pyrenean - style charm.
Although the town has attracted those who came to take the waters for a long time, visitors now travel to Luz-Ardiden for its ski runs.
The Tour’s followers are in addition to the town’s five million annual visitors. Lourdes is the second leading town in France with regard to its hotel capacity.
Sub-prefectures: Saint-Gaudens, Murat
Sub-prefectures: Argelès-Gazost, Bagnères-de-Bigorre
Bernard Lapasset© Presse Sports
Bernard Lapasset, was born in Tarbes in 1947 and was the Chairman of the French Rubgy Federation from 1991 to 2007. Since 2008, he has been in charge of the International Rugby Board (IRB).
“I left Paris four years ago to return to my family home in Tarbes. I live in Louit, a small village with 150 inhabitants, 15 km from Tarbes, on the slopes of Le Magnoac. This hilly terrain is perfect for a cycling enthusiast like me. I like the road of Tarbes’ mountain passes in Bagnères-de-Bigorre which overlooks the Central Pyrenees mountain range, whose highest point is the Pic du Midi. I also like the many small farm tracks: these paths which meander through the woods. With outings like this you can forget your worries, recharge your batteries and everything seems easier and more straightforward. At one time, I cycled up to 3,500 km per year. With Jo Maso, (the manager of the France National Rugby Team) and Jean Dunyach (the Vice-Chairman of the French Rugby Federation), we climbed the Aspin, Ventoux and Tourmalet Passes.
Tarbes is a medium-sized town which is focused on sport, and naturally rugby and the heyday of players such as Jauréguy and Crabos. Today, the mythical Jules Soulé Stadium where I went with my father is in a rather neglected state. There is also fencing with the Touya family, women’s basketball and the equestrian tradition with the National Stud. Tarbes is a service-industry and a garrison town which is being renovated. The elegant houses are being restored and the façades of the town’s buildings are illuminated.
And the cultural centre, which is called “Le parvis” (the square) offers a quality entertainment programme. On Thursday mornings, I like going to Maracdieu Market with its Eiffel-style metal structure. It is a meeting place with different accents, smells and fragrances. When I was a child I went there with my grand parents who were farmers.”