Plateau de Beille

Scandinavia in the South-West

Toulouse is only an hour away and yet the journey to Beille leads straight to Scandinavia. Between Toulouse and Foix, oak predominates. Then beech appears above Tarascon. Firs take over at Les Cabannes. And when you get to Plateau de Beille you'll discover birch, mountain pines, heather and rhododendrons. The change in vegetation corresponds exactly to what you would travelling from southern Europe to the Nordic countries. Similarly, the ptarmigan found in Beille have close cousins in Lapland. The bird came with the retreat of the glaciers in this region 15,000 years ago. And this is why Beille seems like a northern enclave in the Pyrenees, a mini-Norway without reindeer, but with the food! Lovers of the outdoors can spend a day on the plateau living the life of a trapper and spend the night sleeping in an igloo or yurt.

Web sites

© Maeva Loillier et Florent Paitrault
Five times a stage town
5,600 inhabitants in the local municipality
Ariège ski resort (09)
www.beille.fr
Specialities: delicatessen, zynat (soup), mushrooms, croustade (pastry), tomme d'Ariège cheese, milla ariégeois (dessert)
Economy: tourism, skiing.
Sport: skiing, biathlon, snowshoeing, dog sledding
Personalities: Omar Bouyoussef (Paralympic champion in Nagano), Isabelle Casanova (Paralympic giant slalom champion in Salt Lake City and Nagano)
Festivals: Grands Chemins (street art), Oxygèbe pour les Oreilles (music), Festival des Saveurs

Springboard to yellow

A cross-country ski resort, Plateau de Beille has quickly earned its stripes as one of the high points of cycling with five Tour de France finishes in 13 years. And the climb on which Marco Pantani won for the first time in 1998 is one of those that anoint champions as the first four winners there – Pantani, Lance Armstrong twice and Alberto Contador – wore the yellow jersey on the Champs-Élysées. The trend ended when the Tour last came this way in 2011. The stage victory went to Jelle Vanendert, first Belgian winner of a Tour mountain stage since Lucien Van Impe in 1983. Philippe Gilbert's teammate then took the polka dot jersey.

© G.Demouveaux
Five times a stage town
5,600 inhabitants in the local municipality
Ariège ski resort (09)
www.beille.fr
Specialities: delicatessen, zynat (soup), mushrooms, croustade (pastry), tomme d'Ariège cheese, milla ariégeois (dessert)
Economy: tourism, skiing.
Sport: skiing, biathlon, snowshoeing, dog sledding
Personalities: Omar Bouyoussef (Paralympic champion in Nagano), Isabelle Casanova (Paralympic giant slalom champion in Salt Lake City and Nagano)
Festivals: Grands Chemins (street art), Oxygèbe pour les Oreilles (music), Festival des Saveurs

Web sites

Places to see

Lombrives caves
The waters of the Ariège carved the 39 kilometres of tunnels that make up Europe's biggest cavern, classified as such in the Guinness Book of Records. Legend has it that Pyrene was buried there by Hercules and gave her name to the Pyrenean range.

Niaux caves
It has more than 200 entrances and some of its caverns are huge, such as cathedral cavern, which is as vast as Notre Dame in Paris. Four kilometres from the entrance, the cave known as the Empire of Satan is three to four times larger. The site is home to perfectly preserved cave paintings that are 14,000 years old.

Lombrives caves © OscarNiaux caves © Conseil Départemental de l'Ariège
Five times a stage town
5,600 inhabitants in the local municipality
Ariège ski resort (09)
www.beille.fr
Specialities: delicatessen, zynat (soup), mushrooms, croustade (pastry), tomme d'Ariège cheese, milla ariégeois (dessert)
Economy: tourism, skiing.
Sport: skiing, biathlon, snowshoeing, dog sledding
Personalities: Omar Bouyoussef (Paralympic champion in Nagano), Isabelle Casanova (Paralympic giant slalom champion in Salt Lake City and Nagano)
Festivals: Grands Chemins (street art), Oxygèbe pour les Oreilles (music), Festival des Saveurs

Web sites

The Quiés Calcaires de Tarascon sur Ariège and the Grotte de la Petite Caougno Natura 2000 site

Stage 12 runs along 17 km of this Natura 2000 site, between the towns of Alliat and Puech. In the central part of the Pyrenees, in south-east Ariège, this site covers a surface area of 2,483 ha of karstic landscape. There are some exceptional prehistoric environments and remarkable habitats for the protection of bats and large birds of prey, such as the Egyptian vulture or the Golden eagle.

Click here to find out more.

Vue sur les quiès calcaires de Tarascon sur Ariège © Q. Giry
Five times a stage town
5,600 inhabitants in the local municipality
Ariège ski resort (09)
www.beille.fr
Specialities: delicatessen, zynat (soup), mushrooms, croustade (pastry), tomme d'Ariège cheese, milla ariégeois (dessert)
Economy: tourism, skiing.
Sport: skiing, biathlon, snowshoeing, dog sledding
Personalities: Omar Bouyoussef (Paralympic champion in Nagano), Isabelle Casanova (Paralympic giant slalom champion in Salt Lake City and Nagano)
Festivals: Grands Chemins (street art), Oxygèbe pour les Oreilles (music), Festival des Saveurs

Web sites

Jersey wearers after the stage 1

Classifications after the stage 1

The Jerseys of the Tour

Discover Historical Guide

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