On the road

PRINCIPALITY OF ANDORRA
Population: 77,142 inhabitants
Surface area: 468 km2
Specialities: Trinxat de muntanya (potato and green cabbage omelette with bacon), river trout, escudella (soup with pork, pasta and vegetables), cold meats (donja, bringuera, bull, bisbe), beef, grilled meat
Sports clubs: MoraBanc Andorra (basketball), Fútbol Club Andorra (football), ACA (Associació Ciclista Andorra), Purito Rodriguez Sprint-Club school (cycling), Andorra Hoquei Club (hockey), VPC Andorra (rugby)
Competitions: Mountain Skiing World Cup (Arcalís, January 2016), Freeride World Tour (skiing and snowboarding), Women's Alpine Skiing World Cup, Speed Skiing World Cup, Trials World Cup, Andorra Ultra Trail, Andorra Outdoor Games, "La Purito" cycling tour, Andros Trophy
Festivals: Temporada de Música i Dansa (January-May), Andorra Sax Fest (March-April), Jambo Street Music (June), Scalada Vision by Cirque du Soleil (July)
Economy: tourism, commerce, banking and agriculture
Websites / FB / Twitter: www.visitandorra.com / www.facebook.com/andorraworld /
twitter.com/andorraworld_ad / instagram.com/andorraworld/ / https://www.youtube.com/andorraworld / https://www.pinterest.com/andorraworld/

Nestled between France and Spain, Andorra is a small country of 468 km2 with a rich natural heritage: 65 peaks of over 2,500 metres in altitude and more than 60 lakes in its territory make the Principality a true paradise for mountain lovers.
In winter as well as in summer, the tourist offer is inexhaustible: 303 kilometres of ski slopes, the Caldea-Inúu thermal centre, more than 1,200 commercial establishments, 440 restaurants and extensive hiking routes with two natural parks (Sorteny and Comapedrosa) and the Madriu Valley, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2004.

PYRÉNÉES-ORIENTALES
Population: 481,691 (2019)
Prefecture: Perpignan
Sub-prefectures: Céret, Prades
Surface area: 4 116 km2
Specialities: wines (Rivesaltes, Banyuls, muscats, Byrrh), veal, Catalan cream, cargolada (charcuterie), botifarres (black pudding), mel i mato (cottage cheese with honey).
Sports clubs: USAP Perpignan (rugby union), Dragons catalans (rugby league).
Competitions: Roussillon circuit (karting)
Tourist sites: Palace of the Kings of Majorca, Canigou peak, Saint Martin du Canigou abbey, Quéribus castle, Saint-Michel de Cuxa abbey, Céret modern art museum, Canalettes caves, Salses fortress, seaside tourism in Collioures, Argelès-sur-Mer.
Economy: agriculture, arboriculture, viticulture (Banyuls, Rivesaltes, muscat), tourism, electronics, mechanics, plastics.
Websites / FB / Twitter: www.pyrenees.fr, www.tourisme-pyreneesorientales.com/ @pyrenees_fr

Km 0: Porta (Pop: 115)

Castle of Carol
Construction: 12th and 13th centuries
Style: fortified castle
Characteristics: Built on a sheer rock. Only two quadrangular towers, known as the Carol towers, with loopholes and battlements on the top, and the remains of the enclosure with a semicircular gateway, remain.
History: The castle belonged to King James III of Majorca and had to submit to Peter IV of Aragon in 1344 after he went to war against the King of Majorca.
After the Treaty of Olite signed on 12 April 1462 between John II of Aragon and Louis XI, the latter had the counties of Roussillon and Cerdanya occupied. The French occupied the castle in 1463. After the treaty of Narbonne or Barcelona, in 1493, these two counties were returned to Ferdinand II of Aragon. The castle was demolished by the French after the Treaty of the Pyrenees, which attached Roussillon to the kingdom of France.
Classification: Historical monument since 1927

ARIÈGE (09)
Population: 152,340
Prefecture: Foix
Sub-prefectures: Pamiers, Saint-Girons
Surface area: 4,890 km².
Specialities: Bethmale (cheese), Flocons d'Ariège (confectionery), Azinat (type of garbure), Mounjetado (mountain cassoulet), hypocras (medieval aperitif), cutlery, wool, horn objects...
Sports: white water sports, cross-country skiing, Nordic skiing, hiking, sledging, downhill skiing, dog sledding, biathlon, mountaineering, climbing, mountain biking, fishing, horse riding, bicycle touring, paragliding, accrobranche, canyoning, water skiing, golf.
Major competitions: Trail des Citadelles, Ronde de l'Isard, L'Ariégeoise, Trail des Crêtes, Mountain Festival, Marathon of Montcalm, Mérens Horse National Days, Challenge des trails ariégeois.
Festivals : Été des Théâtrales in Couserans, Spectacles de Grands chemins en vallées d'Ax, Mirepoix historical festival, Foix Terre d'histoire, Autrefois le Couserans, Médiévales in Mazères, Saint-Lizier en Couserans Festival, Foix Jazz Festival, Jazz'Velanet festival, Tarascon Latino festival, Terre de Couleurs festival, RITE festival (dances, songs and music from around the world), Résistances film festival, Coulisses d'automne festival, MIMA, Mirepoix puppet arts festival...
Economy: thermalism, "4 seasons" tourism, agropastoralism, hydroelectricity, talc mining, aeronautical subcontracting, textiles, wood industry, etc.
Websites and social networks: www.ariege.fr / www.ariegepyrenees.com / www.grands-sites-ariege.fr
http://www.facebook.com/tourisme.ariege / http://twitter.com/tourismeariege / www.instagram.com/ariegeledpt / https://twitter.com/ariegeledpt

Km 2.5

Km 2.5: Mérens-les-Vals (Pop: 170)
The village is mainly known for the horse breed that originated here, the Mérens horse. This small, light, rustic, black-coated saddle horse and draught horse is of very ancient origin: it bears many physical resemblances to the horses represented by the Magdalenians 13,000 years ago. A working animal of the Ariège farmers in the Foix region for centuries, it is threatened with extinction by mechanisation.

Saint-Pierre de Mérens d'En-Haut Church
Construction: 10th century
Style: Romanesque
Characteristics: Romanesque church of modest size with a simple nave with a trefoil plan. It has a high square bell tower in Catalan-Andorran style with three double bays on each side.
History: It was donated by the local lords in 994 to the Abbey of Sainte-Marie de Lagrasse, a donation confirmed in 1118 by Pope Gelasius II. The church therefore dates from the 10th century, but the bell tower could be from the 11th century. The church and the village were burnt down in October 1811 by General Villamil's Miquelets, who entered French territory during the Spanish War of Independence.
Special features: twice in the year 2000, the conservation work undertaken was awarded the Rubans du Patrimoine.
Classification: Historical monument since 1969

Km 9

Km 9: Ax-les-Thermes (Pop: 1,280)
Its name speaks for itself: since ancient times, Ax has been devoted to water and thermalism. Situated at the confluence of three valleys, it benefits from this location as an obligatory stopover, including for the Tour de France, which has stopped here nine times since 1933, either in the town, at Ax-3 Domaines, or at the Plateau de Bonascre. The last finish of the Grande Boucle in Ax-3 Domaines was in 2013, with Chris Froome winning.
The site has been frequented since Roman times and the town takes its name from the Latin Acquae: waters. Its 80 springs made it a popular spa resort as early as the Middle Ages. In 1260, under the reign of Saint-Louis, the Count of Foix, Roger IX, had a leprosarium built there for soldiers infected during the Crusades, the bassin des Ladres. It is from this date that the exploitation of the sulphurous waters of Ax develops, the hottest of which reaches 77 degrees. Cattle and sheep production was for a long time the other resource of Ax-les-Thermes, until the advent of winter sports which made Ax 3 domaines a renowned resort with the third largest ski area in the Pyrenees. It is also said that Ax was the birthplace of François Mansart, inventor of the mansard, but the great architect, whose family is indeed linked to the Ariège, was born in Paris.

Km 18

Km 18: Luzenac (Pop: 530)
Known for the exploitation of talc, extracted near the Trimouns quarry, the largest in the world, Luzenac made headlines in 2014 thanks to its football club. Luzenac AP had qualified for the professional Ligue 2, but was refused by the Professional Football League (LFP) on the grounds that its stadium did not meet the standards required by the L2. The club unsuccessfully pleaded its case in court, was demoted to the bottom of the regional divisions and became the symbol of amateur football rejected by the pros.

Trimouns Quarry
In the Ax valleys, in the heart of the Tabe massif, there is a huge circus: the largest open-cast talc quarry in the world, the Trimouns talc quarry. At an altitude of 1800 m, on these giant steps, men work to extract the white rock. Equipped with huge machines or simple pickaxes, they discover, extract, pull and transport talc, the softest and most gentle rock on earth.

Km 26

Km 26: Verdun (Pop: 220)

Saint-Blaise Church
Construction: 12th century
Style: Romanesque
Characteristics: built in the 12th century, it is a Romanesque church with three naves extended by an apse and two apsidioles crowned by so-called Lombard bands. It contains wall paintings from the 17th and 18th centuries which were restored in the 1980s.
History: built by the abbey of Cluny in the 12th century, it was then devolved to the abbey of Saint-Volusien de Foix. It was partly rebuilt in 1701, following the flooding of the Moulines torrent in 1613.
Classification: Historical monument since 1910

Km 34

Km 34: Ornolac-Ussat-les-Bains (Pop: 370)
The resort of Ussat-les-Bains is renowned for the treatment of psychosomatic illnesses linked to stress as well as certain neurological pathologies such as Parkinson's disease. The action of its waters on the nervous system has allowed the development of stays focused on relaxation and anti-stress.
The first written records mentioning the beneficial effects of Ussat water date back to the 15th century and the first medical work dealing with this subject dates from 1771. For a long time the local population used the sources to relieve affections, but from this time the baths are structured under the impulse of the baron of Ornolac, Louis de Fraxine. Soon, the arrival in cure of famous characters like the king of Holland, Louis Bonaparte, brother of Napoleon I, or poet Lamartine, will carry very far the fame of the waters of Ussat. The station knows then its golden age and the Great Thermal baths, today classified, are built in 1845 on the vestiges of an older establishment.
Owned by the Hospices de Pamiers until 1982, the spa, which had fallen into a state of lethargy, was revived under the leadership of private owners.

Km 35

Km 35: Tarascon-sur-Ariège (Pop: 3,000)
Tarascon derives its origin from two Indo-European roots which mean "passage of the fault". Its prehistoric heritage is exceptional. You can still admire some of the wall paintings in the Niaux cave (the black room), or visit the largest cave in Europe, the Lombrives cave, where Pyrene, with whom Hercules fell in love, is said to be buried. During Antiquity, the iron mines of the region attracted covetousness, while Tarascon suffered successive invasions by the Franks, the Vandals, then the Visigoths and the Saracens.
In the 16th century, the wars of religion bloodied the town. Protestants and Catholics took it in turns to seize the castle and massacre their enemies. The castle, as well as the two other citadels of the town, were demolished under the reign of Louis XIII, while Tarascon was ravaged twice by fire, the most deadly of which occurred in 1701.
After having lived from agriculture and the exploitation of its gypsum quarries, Tarascon now draws its income mainly from green tourism.
Tarascon hosted a stage start in 1998: Tom Steels won that day in Cap d'Agde.

Park of prehistoric art
In a mountainous park with water features and rocks, this site offers a unique approach to the prehistoric heritage of the Ariège. Inside a contemporary architecture, numerous interactive animations and a sound and light show retrace the history of cave art. A reconstruction of the Niaux cave allows visitors to admire cave paintings that are no longer accessible to the public. Contemporary art exhibitions also confront today's artists with their distant ancestors.

Lombrives cave
The Lombrives cave is a cave whose main entrance is located in the commune of Ussat, three kilometres south of Tarascon-sur-Ariège in the Ariège department (France). Part of the cave is open to tourists. The undeveloped site is listed.

Km 54

Km 54: Col de Port (1,249 m)
This was the first major Pyrenean pass to feature on the Tour de France route in 1910 and Octave Lapize was the first to ride the pass. The Col de Port has since been climbed 27 times and the last rider to cross it first was Frenchman Sandy Casar in 2009.

Km 85

Km 85: Oust (Pop: 540)
Notre-Dame de Vic in Oust is the most imposing Romanesque church in the Couserans.
Its construction began at the end of the 11th century, on the ruins of an early Christian building.

In Soueix-Rogalle:

The peddlers' shop
Located in the heart of the village, the shop bears witness to the golden age of trade. It was used to supply the surrounding mountain villages with groceries and drugs and also acted as a wholesaler for the peddlers. Each shop had its own speciality. The Soueix shop specialised in jewellery, haberdashery and objects of piety: rosaries, Lourdes medals, holy stones, etc., often destined for Algeria and Spain, from where the peddlers brought back exotic products: pepper, vanilla, etc. About ten years ago, the last heirs of this "great" family decided to donate the building to the commune of Soueix.

Km 87

Km 87: Seix (Pop: 720)
For a long time, Seix was a pastoralist and a miner in Salau, but today it is a green tourist resort at the foot of Guzet-Neige with many second homes. Three castles, two of which are listed, are located in the commune: the Château de la Garde, the Château de Seix and the Château de Miramat. Seix is the village of novelist René-Victor Pilhes, who won the Médicis prize in 1965 for Rhubarb and the Fémina in 1974 for The Curse.

The "Dieuzaide Route
This is a permanent outdoor photographic trail, consisting of panels reproducing in large format each of the Couserans photographs of the great photographer, set up in the places where they were taken. The only photographer to have won both the Niepce and Nadar prizes, Jean Dieuzaide took these photographs at the beginning of the 1950s. In addition to their artistic interest, these images are a precious heritage testimony to a way of life and an environment that has changed considerably.

Château de Seix
This is a heritage interpretation centre, an invitation to discover the mountain. By presenting a panorama of the past and present life of men in the valleys of the Haut-Salat, Château de Seix offers the visitor the keys to understanding this Pyrenean territory. A place of discovery and information, it is an ideal preparation for or complement to a visit to the historical and natural heritage of the Haut-Couserans.

Km 101

Km 101: Col de la Core (1,395 m)
Located between the villages of Bethmale and Sentenac d'Oust, on the Pyrenean pass road, it offers a remarkable view of the Bethmale and Haut Salat valleys. The Core pass is the starting point for hikes (Chemin de la liberté). It is close to the lake of Bethmale, where in season you can fish trout.
Used during the Second World War by many men and women fleeing the German occupation, the path was also used by British and American airmen seeking to reach their homeland. The Freedom Trail is a walk steeped in history and memory. It is highly recommended to do this trail with a guide or a high mountain guide.
Col de la Core was climbed by the Tour de France seven times between 1984 (Jean-René Bernaudeau) and 2015 (Kristijan Durasek).

Km 113

Km 113: Arrien-en-Bethmale (Pop: 110)
The commune of Arrien-en-Bethmale is composed of the villages of Aret, Arrien, Tournac and Villargein. It is a member of the Regional Natural Park (PNR) which covers 42% of the Ariège department. Created in 2009, the Ariège Pyrenees Regional Nature Park is located in the west of the Ariège department.

Ariège Pyrenees Regional Nature Park
It unites the highest peaks of the border ridge (Montcalm, Mont Rouch, Crabère, etc.), the highest valleys and emblematic massifs (Mont Valier, Trois Seigneurs, Pique Rouge, etc.) with the foothills and ridges of the Plantaurel, also known as the Little Pyrenees. It is home to an exceptional natural heritage, with remarkable environments and numerous endemic or threatened species: isard, bearded vulture, desman, capercaillie, Pyrenean lily, etc. It is the site of numerous human activities (agriculture, crafts, industry, etc.), some of which, such as pastoralism, are emblematic of the area.
It is an area of 2,500 km2 populated by approximately 43,000 inhabitants in 142 communes (the Ariège department has 332 communes).
www.parc-pyrenees-ariegeoises.fr

Km 117

Km 117: Castillon-en-Couserans (Pop: 400)
The village is the capital of a valley named Bethmale which gave its name to the clogs still made in the valley today. The Bethmale clog: a heart-warmer. The legend goes back to the 7th century, when the Saracens invaded the Bethmale valley. The son of the chief of the Moors fell in love with Esclarelys, the fiancée of the shepherd Darnert. In a fit of jealousy, Darnert surprised the lovers and killed them. Back in the village, he hung the lovers' hearts on the tips of his hooves. Since then, it is a popular tradition that each fiancé gives a pair of clogs to his bride. The longer the tip of the hoof, the greater the love is supposed to be. Even today, a clog maker, gifted with infinite patience, still uses the same manufacturing techniques, using walnut, beech or birch stumps.

Chapel of the Calvary
Construction: 12th century
Style: Romanesque
Characteristics: Romanesque church of modest size with a single nave and an arcaded bell tower. It has excellent acoustic qualities.
History: it was originally the chapel of the castle of the Counts of Comminges.
Classification: Historical monument since 1906

Km 121


Km 121: Argein (Pop: 200)
For those interested in Romanesque art, the Saint-Pierre church in Argein allows you to observe Romanesque remains integrated into an 18th-century church and to carry out a bit of building archaeology! The Romanesque apse has become, in the present church, a secondary apsidal chapel. It is decorated with a string of horseshoes, a distant memory of the Lombardy bands (frieze of small arches) characteristic of the chevets of early Romanesque churches (11th century - early 12th century).

HAUTE-GARONNE (31)
Population: 1,317,668
Prefecture: Toulouse
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
http://www.haute-garonne.fr/
http://hautegaronnetourisme.com
https://www.facebook.com/TourismeHG/
https://twitter.com/TourismeHG
https://www.instagram.com/tourismehg

Km 136

Km 136: Col du Portet d'Aspet (1,069 m)
After the Portet d'Aspet pass, the stele in memory of Fabio Casartelli is erected. It reminds passers-by that the Olympic champion in Barcelona in 1992 was killed when he fell heavily in the downhill in 1995. The Portet d'Aspet is a classic of the Tour de France as it has been climbed 33 times since 1947. It was Philippe Gilbert who came out on top during the last passage of the race in 2018.
The stele was installed in October 1995, sculpted by Bruno Luzzani in white and grey marble from Italy. It depicts a large white wheel, blossoming into an Olympic flag. His bicycle can be seen in the state it was in after his fall in the Madonna del Ghisallo chapel on the pass of the same name in Italy.

Km 150

Km 150: Aspet (Pop: 890)
The village developed in the Middle Ages as the seat of a lordship, one of whose representatives took part in the Third Crusade and another, in the 15th century, fought alongside Joan of Arc. Established as a barony, Aspet, which had welcomed the Reformation, became part of the kingdom of France in 1606. However, the town remained the capital of a lordship. Today, with a population of nearly 900, the town has retained an agricultural economy, but it also highlights its environment and its landscapes, which are particularly appreciated by lovers of green tourism. The Miègecoste chapel, which dominates the town, halfway up a hill, was rebuilt in the 19th century.

Km 154

Km 154: Soueich (Pop: 530)
This small village in Comminges is the commune where Pavel Sivakov, the great Russian hope of the Ineos Grenadiers team, grew up. Naturalised as a Frenchman in 2017, the son of two professional riders, Alexei Sivakov and Aleksandra Koliaseva, started cycling with the clubs of Saint-Gaudens and Isle-Jourdain. Since his pro debut, Sivakov has won the Tour of the Alps and the Tour de Pologne in 2019. A crash in the 2020 Tour did not allow him to express his full talent (87th).

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