Muret > Saint-Lary-Soulan Col du Portet
14/07/2021 - Etappe 17 - 178,4 km - Gebirge
Sub-prefectures: Muret, Saint Gaudens
Surface area: 6,309 km².
Specialities: cassoulet, Toulouse sausage, foie gras, duck breast, Toulouse violet, AOP Fronton wine, AOC Cadours garlic, IGP des Pyrénées lamb, AOC Bigorre black pork, Label Rouge Lauragais veal.
Sports: mountaineering, horse riding, climbing, hiking (new in 2017: Via Garona GR861, GR10, GR46, GR653, GR86,), rugby, speleology, white water sports on the Garonne (canoeing, hydrospeed, rafting), air sports (paragliding, gliding, ULM), winter sports (skiing, snowshoeing, dog sledding), mountain biking (FFC Pyrenees Comminges area), sailing
Major sports clubs: Stade Toulousain, Toulouse Football Club, Fénix Toulouse Handball, Toulouse Métropole Basket, Spacers Volley, TOXIII, Union Sportive Colomiers Rugby
Major competitions: Luchon Aneto Trail (the town of Luchon is labelled Station Trail©, trail du Mourtis ", Trail Toulouse Métropole, Trail du Cagire
Festivals: 31 Notes d'Eté, Jazz sur son 31, Festival des créations télévisuelles de Luchon, Printemps du rire, Rio Loco, Festival du Comminges à Saint Bertrand de Comminges, Toulouse les Orgues...
Economy: Aeronautics and space, Tourism, 4 ski resorts, wine growing (Fronton)
Remarkable sites: Aurignacian Museum, Saint Bertrand de Comminges classified as "Most beautiful villages in France"; Martres-Tolosane and Revel labelled "Villes et Métiers d'Art"; Lake Saint Ferréol; the Canal du Midi classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site with its greenway; Lake Oô in the central Pyrenees; the Cité de l'Espace, the most visited tourist site and its 2019 exhibition "Moon: episode 2" to celebrate the 50th anniversary of man's first step on the moon; La Piste des Géants with "la Halle de la Machine" and "l'Envol des Pionniers" which opened at the end of 2018; Saint Sernin Basilica, one of the largest preserved Romanesque basilicas in Europe...
Haute-Garonne, a cycling destination
50 sites with the Accueil Vélo label.
Route des cols Pyrénéens with specific signposts (altitude difference, altitude...)
Department crossed by the Canal des 2 Mers à Vélo, with a greenway running alongside the Canal du Midi.
3 cycle routes including one along the Garonne, from Carbonne to the Pyrenees, which will soon link up with Spain (Trans Garona).
Websites and social networks
Boussan (Pop: 230)
The former thermal baths of Boussan (1857-1926), which became the Maison patrimoniale de Barthète, now house an associative museum dedicated to Comminges earthenware. This museum also hosts contemporary art exhibitions inspired by the pieces in the collection.
The Château de Boussan has been listed as a historical monument since 1926. It is under the protection of the Association Boussan Village Médiéval, which has been maintaining and restoring it since 2016 and organises a medieval show there.
Aurignac (Pop: 1,200)
The archaeological excavations carried out by Édouard Lartet in the Aurignac cave led to the definition of a prehistoric culture known worldwide, the Aurignacian. This culture lasts from about 37,000 to 28,000 years before our era and corresponds to the beginning of the Upper Paleolithic in Europe, marked by the arrival of Homo sapiens.
However, the personality of this village perched on a rocky spur facing the Pyrenees is more marked by its medieval architecture. The medieval village consists of three fortified enclosures which open onto the county château, whose keep has been converted for tourist visits, and the church, whose listed porch has sumptuous twisted columns. Several beautiful hotels from the Renaissance period and half-timbered houses line the visit, which is facilitated by numerous explanatory plaques. Superb view of the Pyrenees from the top of the keep (orientation table).
The Aurignac cave was occupied in the Upper Paleolithic. Listed as a Historical Monument since the early 1920s, it was discovered in 1852 by Jean-Baptiste Bonnemaison and studied a few years later. The cave is extremely rich in archaeological finds and has revealed three periods of occupation. Many of the objects found there can now be seen in the National Archaeology Museum and the Museum of Toulouse.
Housed in a modern architectural building, this new museum is intended for all prehistory enthusiasts who wish to meet the Aurignacians, the first anatomically modern humans who lived in Europe around 35,000 years ago. Evidence of the life of these peoples (hunting weapons, objects of daily life, items of jewelry, statuettes, etc.), from the Aurignac excavations and also from other emblematic prehistoric sites, are the guiding thread of a completely renovated museographic presentation. Multimedia supports, temporary exhibitions, animations, as well as meetings and debates allow to question the current knowledge on the origins of man.
Construction: 13th century
Style: fortified castle
Characteristics: gradually falling into ruin and restored several times, the keep, the remains of the large courtyard, the prison and the surrounding walls remain.
History: this castle built in 1230 by Bernard V of Comminges testifies to the stronghold that Aurignac occupied in the Middle Ages as the chief town of an important lordship of the Counts of Comminges.
Special features: a breathtaking view of the Pyrenees, but also a relaxation area, large wooden games, an orientation table, fun workshops for children and a cultural season with live shows at the foot of the keep.
Classification: Historical monument since 1979
La Toue (Pop: 320)
Construction: from 1140, then 13th, 16th and 18th centuries.
History: four parts can be distinguished. The old 11th century keep, at the north-east corner, with a low vaulted room on the ground floor. The 13th century tower with the spiral staircase. The 16th century turret following the spiral staircase to the upper parts. The 18th century dwelling house, some of whose rooms still have Louis XV style wood veneers. In 1500, the castle burned down in part. It was restored in 1581.
Classification: Historical monument since 1979
13 previous stages
Sub-prefecture of the Haute-Garonne (31)
Population: 12,000 (Saint-Gaudinois, Saint-Gaudinoises) and 45,000 in the community of communes.
Specialities: south-western gastronomy, duck, confit
Personalities: Pierre Berbizier, William Servat (rugby), Élie Baup (football), Marie-Laure Brunet (biathlon), Pavel Sivakov (cycling), Jacqueline Boyer (actress)
Sport: Ours de Saint-Gaudens (rugby league). AITF tennis tournament. Occitania road.
Economy: paper mill, geophysical research.
Festivals: Pronomade(s) (street arts, April), Comics Festival (May), Jazz en Comminges (June), Mountain Festival (October), Sing Go Gospel (November), Les Pyrénéennes (December), Concerts at the Cube.
Labels: fun and sports town, town in bloom
Websites: www.tourisme-stgaudens.com / www.stgo.fr / www.coeurcoteaux-comminges.fr
Labarthe-Rivière (Pop: 1,320)
Labarthe-Rivière is where the grandfather of a journalist who was to do much for the reputation of the Tour de France, Albert Londres, was born and established as a peddler. When the peddler died, his widow came to live in Vichy with her three children, including Jean-Marie, Albert's father, a boilermaker by trade. The London surname would have been Loundrès, a Gascon term for wetlands or marshes, then Londrès.
Barbazan (Pop: 450)
Barbazan is a listed spa town. The thermal baths, built in 1901, are situated in a 4.2- hectare park, magnificently wooded, which invites you to take a stroll. The thermal baths are recognised for biliary, intestinal and nutritional disorders, thanks to their water loaded with calcium sulphate and magnesium.
Sub-prefectures: Argelès-Gazost, Bagnères-de-Bigorre
Surface: 4 464 km² (2,760 sq mi)
Specialities: Black pig of Bigorre (AOC), Tarbais beans, Wines (Madiran and Pacherenc du Vic Bilh AOC), Barèges-Gavarnie AOC sheep, Trébons onion, Gascony chicken, Garbure, Foie gras, spit cake...
Sports clubs: Tarbes Pyrénées rugby, TGB (basketball)
Competitions: Downhill Mountain Bike World Cup (Lourdes), La Montée du Géant du Tourmalet, Grand Raid des Pyrénées, Pyr'Epic...
Festivals: Gavarnie Festival (Theatre), Tarbes en tango, Equestria festival of equestrian creation (Tarbes), Festival of Sacred Music (Lourdes), Jazz Festival (Luz St Sauveur), Piano Pic in the Grand Tourmalet, Festival of small mountain churches (Louron Valley), Mariolles Festival, Cheese Fair, Madiran Wine Festival, Pyrenean Dogs Festival, Luz St Sauveur Chop Fair, Loudenvielle Traditions Fair.
Major tourist sites: Pic du Midi de Bigorre, Cirque de Gavarnie (Unesco heritage), Cascades du Pont d'Espagne (Cauterets), Pyrenees National Park, Lourdes pilgrimage
Economy: food industry, railway industry, aeronautics, hydroelectricity, 4 seasons tourism, thermalism...
Website / FB / Insta: www.pyrenees-trip.com / www.facebook.com/hautespyrenees / www.instagram.com/hautespyrenees
Tourmalet, Aspin, Peyresourde... names that evoke fantastic landscapes. Yes, but here's the thing. Not everyone has the soul and abilities of a cycling hero, an ace dancer or a polka-dot jersey wearer. When it comes to swallowing passes, summits and kilometres of mountains, many prefer the car. Who can blame them. It is for them that the Hautes-Pyrénées have created, following the example of their illustrious elders such as Route 66, the Silk Road or the Transamazonian, a tourist route in Pyrenees Roadtrip mode.
On the programme: 2 countries (France and Spain); 8 mythical passes; 3 Unesco World Heritage sites; 4 natural parks and secret corners that only the Pyrenees can offer. In the end, an authentic and unforgettable adventure but above all an idea for holidays with friends, lovers or family.
The Boutique des Pyrénées, a specialist in tailor-made holidays, will take care of all the logistics: choice of accommodation, access to the Grands Sites, entry to the balneotherapy centres, guided walks, good restaurants, etc.
Burgalays (Pop: 130)
Burgalays is one of the seven communes that make up the so-called Land of Bear. It was in Burgalays that a bear was imported from Slovenia in 2005. Controversy over the reintroduction of the bear continues to oppose the locals. The old mills of Burgalays, abandoned for several decades, have been restored to their former glory.
Bagnères-de-Luchon (Pop: 2,700)
Its privileged position has allowed Bagnères-de-Luchon to host the Tour de France 55 times, a record for a town of this size. It must be said that this renowned water town has been part of the history of the Grande Boucle since 1910, when it hosted the first two high mountain stages of the event, both won by Octave Lapize, the future winner of this edition. The Queen of the Pyrenees has also often crowned the future winner of the Tour, or its hero, such as Pascal Simon in 1983, Thomas Voeckler in 2010 or Julian Alaphilippe in 2018. That year, the Allées d'Étigny were the setting for a new start in the form of a grid in the style of a F1 Grand Prix.
Bagnères-de-Luchon is the most characteristic mountain town in the entire Pyrenees. Surrounded by the 13 most famous peaks in the chain, such as the Aneto (3,404 m), the highest peak in the Pyrenees, Luchon is a lively holiday destination that attracts travellers of all types, in all seasons.
Since 2011, Bagnères-de-Luchon is part of the Grands Sites de Midi-Pyrénées.
It is also a two-thousand-year-old reputation which recognises the therapeutic virtues of the waters of Luchon. It is not by chance that the Roman goddess of water Ilixon gave her name to the country of Luchon. Today, the spa of Bagnères-de-Luchon is the most popular in the Haute-Garonne and the Midi-Pyrénées region. Since 2011, it has been part of the association of European spa towns.
Cazeaux-de-Larboust (Pop: 100)
Church of Sainte-Anne
Construction: 12th, 17th and 19th centuries.
Style: Lombard Romanesque
Characteristics: small building built around a 12th-century chapel consisting of a nave and an apse with a barrel vault. A side aisle was added later, followed by a bell tower and its spire.
A special feature is the classified 15th century frescoes by a local painter and another Catalan painter, which were painted over in 1790 and rediscovered in 1893 by a painter and decorator from Bagnères-de-Luchon. They represent the Assumption of the Virgin, the birth of Eve, the original sin, Adam and Eve driven out of paradise, the crowning of the Virgin, Saint John the Baptist preaching and the Last Judgement.
Classification: Historical Monument since 1921
Peyresourde pass (1,569 m)
With 68 visits since 1910, of which it was one of the pioneer passes, Peyresourde is one of the most frequently passes ridden by the Tour de France. This was also the case in 2019, when Belgian rider Tim Wellens led the way.
Loudervielle (Pop: 54)
Moulor castle was built in the 12th century. The fief of the seigneury included part of the present-day territories of the communes of Germ, Loudervielle, Armenteule and Aranvielle and some land in the neighbouring Larboust valley. The keep and the chapel belonged to the lords of Montlaur, vassals of the barons of Spain-Montespan. The last members of the family of the Lords of Moulor who lived in the castle died out in 1753 and 1754. All that remains of the castle is a square watchtower erected on the hill where the castle stood.
Loudenvielle (Pop: 490)
A small mountain village, situated in a picturesque natural environment, Loudenvielle has demonstrated its attachment to its cultural heritage, a testimony to its Pyrenean identity, thanks to the rehabilitation and embellishment of the village.
To be discovered: the parish church of Sainte-Marie Madeleine, the Arixo (film and museum museum) housed in a restored old farmhouse, where you can also discover the heritage of the Louron Valley, religious art, know-how...
Like the village of Génos, Loudenvielle benefits from a sulphurous hot spring, which is enhanced by the Balnéa thermal water relaxation centre, the main infrastructure of its kind in the French Pyrenees, which invites visitors to discover all the baths of the world.
For entertainment, the Génos-Loudenvielle lake, at an altitude of 1,000 m, is equipped to offer you numerous aquatic activities: swimming, pedal boats, canoes, etc.
Loudenvielle has hosted three stages of the Tour de France in 1997, 2003 and 2007.
Val Louron-Azet pass (1,580 m)
Located near the resort of Val Louron, the Azet pass (1,580 m) has been used by the Tour eight times since 1997. Over the last decade, it has been on the route almost every other year. The last man to have led the race at the top of it was Julian Alaphilippe in 2018.
Vignec (Pop: 230)
A small part of the communes of Cadeilhan-Trachère and Vignec were taken to form the Pla d'Adet resort, the commune of Vignec being cut in two by the extension of Soulan, but retaining in its new southern exclave the eastern part of the ski area (and its lifts) closest to the new resort, the other western part of the ski area being essentially on Soulan but accessible only via these lifts from Vignec.
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