• 62 times a stage town
• Population: 82,000
• Prefecture of Pyrénées-Atlantiques (64)
The last twice the Tour visited the town, in 2007 and 2008, Pau hosted a stage start and a rest day; this will be the case again this year. It was in Pau in 1990 that a Russian rider, Dimitri Konyshev, won for the first time on the Tour. It was also in Pau in 1995 that the pack mourned Fabio Casartelli, who died the day before on the downhill stretch of the Portet d’Aspet. An interesting detail: the last three winners of a stage that started in Pau were Italian.
Is there a more beautiful sight then the view of the Pyrenean mountain range from the promenade along the Boulevard des Pyrénées that links the castle to Beaumont Park? Listed in 1944 under the name Horizons Palois, the boulevard is currently being renovated as part of a three-year project: renovation of the balustrade and lighting, pruning and felling of trees. This work will help widen the view of the slopes and the new facilities of the Pau-Pyrenees urban community: the Eaux-Vives stadium and the future Porte des Gaves district. Furthermore, in two years time, an urban nature park will also come into being along the banks of the Gave de Pau river. It will combine preservation of natural spaces and the pursuit of leisure activities. Pau city centre is also being refurbished, with programmes to improve housing, the city’s appeal, its heritage and environmentally-friendly forms of mobility. In addition to an excellent bus network, Pau will be confirming its loyalty to cycling by implementing self-service bicycle stands this autumn.
• Once a stage finish
• High mountain pass (2,115 m) in the Hautes-Pyrénées
• 4, 5 km from La Mongie
One hundred years after Octave Lapize first conquered the Tourmalet in 1910, the pack will once more attack this legendary Tour de France monument, perched at an altitude of 2,115 metres. Since Lapize, the race has climbed to the summit 73 times, making this Pyrenean mountain pass the most frequently climbed pass on the Tour. In 1974 Jean-Pierre Danguillaume won the first, and hitherto only, summit finish here.
Long before cyclists first attempted to climb it, Tourmalet was already a pass with a reputation. Traversed by shepherds, pilgrims or peddlers, it obtained its letters of nobility in 1675 when Madame de Maintenon crossed it on a Sedan chair to reach Barèges, since the route via the valley bottom was blocked by floods. Today, at an altitude of 2,115 metres, Tourmalet is one of the highest road passes in the Pyrenees. Almost every summer, the legend of the Tour de France is written on its slopes. Its gradients welcome Tour enthusiasts, who can also take the time to admire the landscape and mountain-grazing livestock herds. In the winter, the two sides form, with 100 km of slopes, the biggest skiing resort in the French Pyrenees, under the name Domaine du Tourmalet. Overlooking the pass, the peak of the Pic du Midi de Bigorre rises up to an altitude of 2,877 metres. It can be reached on foot or by cable-car from La Mongie and offers a unique view of the surrounding summits. It is also possible to visit the astronomical observatory, built at the end of the 19th century.