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On the road

RÉGION OCCITANIE

Départements : Ariège, Aude, Aveyron, Gard, Haute-Garonne, Gers, Hérault, Lot, Lozère, Hautes-Pyrénées, Pyrénées-Orientales, Tarn, Tarn-et-Garonne.
Population : 5,9 millions hab.
Préfecture : Toulouse
Superficie : 72 724 km2
Spécialités : foie gras, cassoulet, aligot, tielle sétoise, brandade de morue, haricots tarbais, garbure, oignon doux, cerises de Céret, vins (Pic Saint-Loup, Corbières, Cahors, Costières de Nîmes, blanquette de Limoux, Minervois, Tavel, Madiran). Eau source Perrier.
Clubs sportifs : Stade Toulousain, Castres Olympique, Montpellier HR, USAP Perpignan (rugby), Montpellier HSC, Nîmes Olympique, Toulouse FC (football), Dragons Catalans (rugby à XIII), Montpellier Handball, Fenix Toulouse, USAM Nîmes-Gard (handball) 
Compétitions : Tour de France, Open Sud de France (tennis), Route d’Occitanie (cyclisme).
Économie : aéronautique et espace (Airbus, Ariane, Toulouse), défense, informatique, nucléaire, agro-alimentaire, agriculture (vins, céréales) tourisme, industrie pharmaceutique. Universités (Montpellier, Toulouse).  
Festivals : férias de Nîmes et Béziers,  Rio Loco (Toulouse), Festival Radio France Montpellier (classique), Comédie du Livre (Montpellier), Electro Beach (Port Barcarès) , Jazz in Marciac, Cinémed (Montpellier), Circa Auch, festival du roman noir à Frontignan.
Sites  touristiques : Cité de Carcassonne, basilique de Lourdes, Toulouse (Capitole, Saint-Sernin, ville rose), Montpellier (place de la Comédie, Écusson), plages, Pont du Gard, Arènes de Nîmes, châteaux forts cathares, Canal du Midi, cathédrales d’Albi, Castres et Rodez. Viaduc de Millau, grottes de Niaux et du Maz d’Azil. Pont Valentré à Cahors. Villages de caractère. Plages de l’Aude, du Gard et de l’Hérault. Stations de ski des Pyrénées et de l’Ariège.
Site web : www.laregionoccitanie.fr

HAUTES-PYRÉNÉES (65)

Population: 229,567.
Prefecture : Tarbes
Sub-prefectures : Argelès-Gazost, Bagnères-de-Bigorre
Number of municipalities: 469
Surface area: 4,464 km².
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, Pyrenean trout...
Sports clubs: Federal 1 rugby clubs (Tarbes Pyrénées Rugby, Bagnères-de-Bigorre, Lannemezan), Tarbes Gespe Pyrénées Basket in the women's basketball league. Competitions: Mountain Bike World Cup Lourdes 26 and 27 March 2022, Mountain Bike Enduro World Cup Loudenvielle 22 to 25 September 2022, Montée du Géant du Tourmalet 4 June 2022, Grand Raid des Pyrénées (24 to 28 August 2022), Balnéaman (17 September 2022), Pyrénées Cycl'n trip (11 passes reserved from 25 to 29 July 2022, Patou Trail (17 to 19 June 2022)
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: Pyrenees National Park, Néouvielle National Nature Reserve, Gavarnie Cirque listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, Pic du Midi International Starry Sky Reserve, 5 Great Sites of Occitania (Pic du Midi, Gavarnie - Cauterets Pont d'Espagne, Lourdes and Pyrénées Aure Louron), 5 Great Passes (Peyresourde, Val Louron-Azet, Aspin, Tourmalet, Soulor)
Economy: European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation (EGTC) PYRENESS-PIRINEOS, HaPy 2020-2030 territory project, Hapysaveurs collective initiative to promote short circuits. French Tech, energy transition. Tourism: leading economic activity. Innovative and dynamic companies, particularly in the aeronautical sector, wood industry, etc.
Websites / FB / Twitter: www.tourisme-hautes-pyrenees.com / www.hautespyrenees.fr /
https://twitter.com/hautespyrenees / https://www.facebook.com/hautespyrenees/ / http://www.facebook.com/departementHautesPyrenees


Tourmalet, Aspin, Peyresourde...names that evoke fantastic landscapes. Yes, but here's the problem. Not everyone has the knack and abilities of a cycling hero, an ace dancer or a polka dot jersey holder. When it comes to going up passes, summits and kilometres of mountains, many prefer the car. Who can blame them? It is for them that Hautes-Pyrénées created, following illustrious examples like Route 66, the Silk Road or the Transamazonian, a tourist itinerary in PYRENEES ROADTRIP mode.
On the programme: 2 countries (France and Spain); 8 mythical passes; 3 Unesco World Heritage sites; 4 nature 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.
As for logistics, the Boutique des Pyrénées, a specialist in tailor-made holidays, takes care of everything: choice of accommodation, access to the Grands Sites, entrance fees for the balneotherapy centres, guided walks, good restaurants, etc.

Km 17

Saint-Pé-de-Bigorre (Pop: 1,160)

Abbey and church of Saint-Pé-de-Bigorre
Foundation: 11th century.
Style: Predominantly Romanesque.
Features: Of the Romanesque building, which was rebuilt much more modestly in the 17th century, only two apses remain in the eastern part, a section of wall in the southern aisle, a medieval porch to the west of the latter, and some elements of the southern transept. A few capitals from the cloister and the church, as well as parts of the destroyed eastern portal, are still preserved.
History: the abbey was founded around 1022 by monks from Saint-Sever-de-Rustan. Belonging to the Order of Cluny, it quickly became important because it was located on the route to Santiago de Compostela. The monastery suffered from the Wars of Religion: sacked in 1569, it was then seriously damaged by the earthquake of 1661.
Special feature: bought in May 2017, it has become the "Maronite House of the Mother of Mercy" and has been restored to welcome pilgrims on their way to Compostela.
Listing: Historical monument since 1977

PYRÉNÉES-ATLANTIQUES (64)

Region: New Aquitaine
Population: 682,621
Prefecture: Pau
Subprefectures: Bayonne, Oloron-Sainte-Marie
Number of municipalities: 546
Area: 7,645 km2
Specialities: piperade; madiran (wine); pacherenc (wine); poule au pot (hen in the pot); garbure (soup); jurançon (wine); axoa; piment d'Espelette (pepper); poulet basquaise (Basque chicken); gâteau basque (Basque cake); Irouléguy (AOC wine); Bayonne ham
Sports clubs: Elan Béarnais Pau-Lacq-Orthez (basketball), Section Paloise, Biarritz olympique, Aviron Bayonnais (rugby), Pau FC (football).
Competitions: Canoe/Kayak World Cup in Pau, Pau Automobile Grand Prix, Pau Eventing.
Festivals : Fêtes de Bayonne, Festival Hestiv'Òc
Economy : agropastoralism, hydroelectricity, agri-food, aeronautics, thermalism
Websites and socialnetworks: http://www.le64.fr / www.facebook.com/departementdespyreneesatlantiques / https://twitter.com/departement64 / https://pro.tourisme64.com

Km 21.4

Montaut (Pop: 1,100)
Montaut is an ancient bastide founded in 1327 by Margaret of Bearn, grandmother of Gaston Fébus. The original bastide plan still contains remnants of its past. The church of Saint-Hilaire dates partly from the 15th and 16th centuries. There is a sculpted group representing the mystical marriage of Saint Catherine, listed as a historical monument since 1976.

Km 45.9

Louvie-Juzon (Pop: 1,050)
The baroque-style church of Saint-Martin was begun in the 16th century and was not completed until 1890. It has four altars and several pieces of 18th century furniture classified as Historic Monuments, including an organ restored in 1984.
Louvie-Juzon is the birthplace of two famous people. Raymond Orteig emigrated to the United States at the age of twelve, became the owner of two luxury hotels in Manhattan and donated the prize for the Atlantic crossing won by Charles Lindbergh in 1927.
As for François Moncla, who passed away at the end of 2021 at the age of 89, he was one of the greatest third row players in the history of French rugby. François les bas bleus was captain of the French national team in 1960 and had 31 caps. He was also a man of conviction, notably involved in the fight against apartheid.

Km 47

Izeste (Pop: 430)
Its 17th-century Saint-Etienne church is especially noteworthy for its furniture. Its castle-tower (15th century) has been listed since 1986.

Km 54.1

Gère-Belesten (Pop: 180)
The fortified house known as the Tower of Ore is located near the church of Gère and dates from the 13th and 14th centuries. It has been listed as a historical monument since 1997.

Km 57.7

Laruns (Pop: 1,200)
Laruns has somehow turned into the cycling capital of Slovenia, since the 2020 Tour, when Tadej Pogacar won a stage in town ahead of his compatriot Primoz Roglic. Roglic, who had already won in the cheese city in 2018, took the Yellow Jersey that was thought to be definitive. Wrongly so.
In 2018, the former ski jumper was the most enterprising and the most skilful in the descent after having crossed the Aubisque pass in the lead. He was then aiming for the final podium, which finally escaped him in the final time trial in Espelette. No luck...
Close to the Spanish border, Laruns hosted the start of a half-stage in 1985, in the middle of a day that was particularly successful for the La Redoute team. Leader Stephen Roche had won the morning stage on the Col d'Aubisque, keeping alive the hope that he would be able to challenge Bernard Hinault and Greg LeMond, his rivals from La Vie Claire. In the afternoon, Régis Simon, team-mate of Roche, beat his breakaway companion Alvaro Pino on the Laruns-Pau route. The history of the Tour keeps track of a pioneer cyclist from Laruns, Jean-Baptiste Camdessoucens, who took part in the 1910 edition. The son of a customs officer, he was looking forward to riding past his friends and family on the long stage between Luchon and Bayonne (326 km). But his supporters, who only received newspapers several days late, waited in vain for him. After a crash in the Perpignan-Luchon stage, he broke his hand and was forced to abandon the day before the stage he had been dreaming of.

Laruns cheese
Traditionally, the Laruns Cheese Fair takes place on the first weekend of October, accompanied by its old-style market and various events. The village is then dressed in its festive clothes for the occasion to revive the traditions: straw on the ground, old crafts, costumes, traditional dances and songs, chicken in the pot in the restaurants. Of course, you can taste laruns, a cheese produced from sheep's milk in the Ossau valley, which is also included in the Ossau-iraty production area.

Km 63.8

Eaux-Bonnes (Pop: 425)
On the right bank of the Gave d'Ossau, the commune is made up of Aast, Assouste, Gourette and many other places and hamlets. The spa (ENT, rheumatology) is known since the 16th century and was revived by the work of Théophile de Bordeu in the 18th century. Empress Eugenie, Countess of Téba (1826-1920), made it her official spa. The waters are sulphurated, chlorinated, sodic and calcic. But Eaux-Bonnes acquired above all credit and reputation by healing the wounds (from arquebus blows) of several lords of Bearn who had followed Henry II, King of Navarre, to the battle of Pavia, in 1525. Eaux-Bonnes received the name of Eaux d'arquebusade, by Jean d'Albret, companion of Francis I.
The casino of Eaux-Bonnes has been installed since 1873 in a beautiful castle with the appearance of yesteryear.

Km 75

Béost (Pop: 220)

Abbey/Castle of Béost
Construction: 15th century
Characteristics: The castle has a mullioned façade on the east side, dominated by a high tower. The western facade has a 17th century doorway of classical rustic architecture.
History: adjoining the church, this former 12th century lay abbey was a stopover for pilgrims on their way to Santiago. In the 16th century, it became a seigneurial residence known as the Château d'Aramitz, a king's musketeer and relative of the Espalungue family. The mother of the famous musketeer, Catherine de Rague d'Espalungue, married Charles d'Aramits, also a musketeer. Their son Henri is the Aramis that Alexandre Dumas made into a legend.
Current destination: the castle belongs to the association Los Auzelets, which is in charge of restoring it (volunteer youth work camps).
Listing: Historical monument since 1954.

Aubisque pass (1,709 m)
The Aubisque is one of the classic passes of the Tour de France, which has been climbed by the peloton on 73 occasions in the past. Two stages ended at the summit, in 1985 and 2010. It is 16.6km long with a percentage of 7.5 pc and peaks at 13 pc after Eaux-Bonnes. On the Tour’s last visit, in 2018, it was Rafal Majka who was at the front.

HAUTES-PYRÉNÉES (65)

Population: 229,567.
Prefecture : Tarbes
Sub-prefectures : Argelès-Gazost, Bagnères-de-Bigorre
Number of municipalities: 469
Surface area: 4,464 km².
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, Pyrenean trout...
Sports clubs: Federal 1 rugby clubs (Tarbes Pyrénées Rugby, Bagnères-de-Bigorre, Lannemezan), Tarbes Gespe Pyrénées Basket in the women's basketball league. Competitions: Mountain Bike World Cup Lourdes 26 and 27 March 2022, Mountain Bike Enduro World Cup Loudenvielle 22 to 25 September 2022, Montée du Géant du Tourmalet 4 June 2022, Grand Raid des Pyrénées (24 to 28 August 2022), Balnéaman (17 September 2022), Pyrénées Cycl'n trip (11 passes reserved from 25 to 29 July 2022, Patou Trail (17 to 19 June 2022)
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: Pyrenees National Park, Néouvielle National Nature Reserve, Gavarnie Cirque listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, Pic du Midi International Starry Sky Reserve, 5 Great Sites of Occitania (Pic du Midi, Gavarnie - Cauterets Pont d'Espagne, Lourdes and Pyrénées Aure Louron), 5 Great Passes (Peyresourde, Val Louron-Azet, Aspin, Tourmalet, Soulor)
Economy: European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation (EGTC) PYRENESS-PIRINEOS, HaPy 2020-2030 territory project, Hapysaveurs collective initiative to promote short circuits. French Tech, energy transition. Tourism: leading economic activity. Innovative and dynamic companies, particularly in the aeronautical sector, wood industry, etc.
Websites / FB / Twitter: www.tourisme-hautes-pyrenees.com / www.hautespyrenees.fr /
https://twitter.com/hautespyrenees / https://www.facebook.com/hautespyrenees/ / http://www.facebook.com/departementHautesPyrenees

Tourmalet, Aspin, Peyresourde...names that evoke fantastic landscapes. Yes, but here's the problem. Not everyone has the knack and abilities of a cycling hero, an ace dancer or a polka dot jersey holder. When it comes to going up passes, summits and kilometres of mountains, many prefer the car. Who can blame them? It is for them that Hautes-Pyrénées created, following illustrious examples like Route 66, the Silk Road or the Transamazonian, a tourist itinerary in PYRENEES ROADTRIP mode.
On the programme: 2 countries (France and Spain); 8 mythical passes; 3 Unesco World Heritage sites; 4 nature 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.
As for logistics, the Boutique des Pyrénées, a specialist in tailor-made holidays, takes care of everything: choice of accommodation, access to the Grands Sites, entrance fees for the balneotherapy centres, guided walks, good restaurants, etc.

Km 110

Spandelles pass (1,378 m)
The Spandelles pass is a first-time feature of the Tour de France, but it is not unknown to the riders. In 2012, on the Route du Sud, Nairo Quintana led the way to the summit and the pass caused a lot of damage. Thomas Voeckler in particular was forced to put his foot down halfway up the climb.

Km 124.5

Argelès-Gazost (Pop: 3,400)
Its inhabitants are called Argelésiens. It is the capital of Lavedan, at the confluence of the Gave de Pau and the Gave d'Azun. The gastronomic speciality is Pastis, which is a cake here. This picturesque old town with its steep or stepped streets, formerly called Ourout, then Argelès, added to its name that of Gazost, for its thermal waters. It is indeed a climatic and thermal station (phlebology and ORL) with an establishment in the English park (sulphurous, sodic, iodobromide waters).
The church of St Saturnin was built in 1854. A very beautiful choir panelling was added (1896). Personalities linked to the commune include René Billières (1910-2004), former Minister of State for National Education, Youth and Sport, and Clément Dupont (1899-1993), a player in the French national rugby union team (16 caps). He was, after Adolphe Jauréguy (1898-1978), the second Frenchman to beat the four British nations before the war.
In 1996, Argelès was the starting point for a stage to Pamplona, won by Swiss rider Laurent Dufaux.

Abbey and abbatial church of Saint-Savin
Construction: from 935
History: Saint-Savin Abbey was one of the largest religious centres in the Bigorre region. The monastery was built on the site of a Gallo-Roman fort called Palatium Æmilianum ("Emilian Palace") by Charlemagne. Saint Savin was a hermit in Bigorre in the 8th century.
Characteristics: The construction of the abbey church, made of limestone, in Romanesque style, dates from the 12th century. It reflects the prosperity of the monastery. An elevation and the construction of a lantern tower modified it in the 14th century. In 1791, the abbey church became a parish church. Together with the chapter house and the surrounding walls, it constitutes the only remains of the Benedictine Abbey.
Listing: Historical Monument in 1840.

Km 140.9

Beaucens (Pop: 420)

Beaucens Castle / Donjon of the Eagles
Construction: 10th century
Style: castle
History: the castle of Beaucens was the most powerful viscountal house of Bigorre with vast possessions including the seventeen towns of the Barèges valley. Inhabited until 1643, it then belonged to the House of Montaut-Bénac.
Current destination: the site has been transformed into a zoological park, the Donjon des aigles, where you can admire birds of prey in flight around the ruins of the castle, with a view of the Gaves valley. It is one of the most important collections of birds of prey in the world.
Trivia: in Bigorre, the legend tells of the end of a long siege of the castle, halted because of a trout released by an eagle, which made the attackers believe that food was still abundant and fresh in the castle.
Listing: Historical Monument since 1927

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