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Auf der strecke

Haute-Garonne department

Prefecture : Toulouse
: Saint-Gaudens, Muret
: 1,203,000
: www.haute-garonne.fr

With Toulouse as its prefecture, the Haute-Garonne department is by far the biggest in the Midi-Pyrenees region with1.13 million inhabitants. The Garonne rivers runs through it over 200 kilometres. Urban in Toulouse, authentic in the surrounding countryside, it is also a mountainous department with four ski resorts (Luchon-Superbagneres, Peyragudes, le Mourtis and Bourg d’Oueil) and high summits at the Spanish border. This explains why tourism is such an important activity, employing more than 10,000 people. Foie gras, magret and of course cassoulet, with its Toulouse sausage, are the best known local specialities. The air and space industry is the department’s main employer.

Hautes-Pyrenees department

Logo du Département français des Hautes-Pyrénées Crédit : Hautes-PyrénéesLogo du Département français des Hautes-PyrénéesCrédit : Hautes-Pyrénées

Prefecture : Tarbes
: www.cg65.fr

Hautes Pyrenees has a population of 220,000, split between the three distinct sectors which form the department, mountains, valleys and plains. In the south, the Pyrenees are a high barrier marking the Spanish border – 35 peaks reach 3,000 metres or more. Tourism is the main activity, especially thanks to Lourdes, the world’s second pilgrimage centre, and the Gavarnie Circus, a World Heritage site. Another important site is the Pic du Midi, which can be reached by a lift leading to the 600 m2 panoramic terraces revealing a breathtaking view on the summits. Ski resorts are plenty – 12 in all including Luz-Ardiden, Hautacam and St Lary, familiar to Tour aficionados. Hydrotherapy is also a tradition in Argeles-Gazost, Bareges-Barzun or Beaucens. An ideal Pyrenean meal always starts with a garbure, a soup made of beans, ham bone, bits of duck and goose confit, cabbage, carrots, turnip, onion and garlic.

Km 13.5 : Cierp-Gaud

Cierp-Gaud castle - Credit : Père Igor

Cierp-Gaud castle

The castle of Cierp-Gaud, built around 1591, is now the town hall. The tower is the only remaining feature from the original castle, which was modified in the 17th century while two small towers were added in the 19th.

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