Pau > Luz Ardiden
07/15/2021 - Stage 18 - 129,7 km - Mountain
On the road
NEW AQUITAINE REGION
Departments: Charente, Charente-Maritime, Corrèze, Creuse, Dordogne, Gironde, Landes, Lot-et-Garonne, Pyrénées-Atlantiques, Deux-Sèvres, Vienne, Haute-Vienne.
Population: 5.9 million
Surface area: 2 011 km2
Specialities: Bordeaux wines, Cognac, Armagnac, Espelette pepper, Périgord walnuts, Marmande tomatoes, oysters from the Arcachon basin, Salers meat, Aquitaine cow, Bayonne ham, Pauillac lamb, Bordeaux canelés. Goose, duck, Sarlat apples, Basque chicken, garbure, lamprey. Black truffle.
Sports clubs: Girondins de Bordeaux (football), Stade Montois, Union Sportive Dacquoise, Aviron Bayonnais, Union Bordeaux Bègles Atlantique, Stade Rochelais, CA Brive Corrèze Limousin, Section Paloise, Biarritz Olympique, SU Agen (rugby), Elan Béarnais Pau-Orthez, CSP Limoges (basketball).
Competitions: Tour de France, surfing in Lacanau (Lacanau Pro) and Biarritz. Tour du Limousin.
Festivals: Bayonne festival, Dax festival, Madeleine festival in Mont-de-Marsan, Francofolies in La Rochelle, Angoulême comic book festival, Brive book fair, Nuits de nacre in Tulle, Grand Pavois in La Rochelle, Garorock in Marmande, Cognac detective film festival
Economy: Bordeaux, Cognac and Armagnac wines, aeronautics and space industry, biotechnologies, chemistry, scientific research. Image and digital industry. Agri-food industry. Port of Bordeaux. Tourism. Universities.
Tourist sites: Bordeaux, Saint-Émilion, La Rochelle, Biarritz, Arcachon basin, Dune du Pilat, Lascaux caves, Futuroscope in Poitiers, Lacanau beaches, Biarritz, Biscarosse, Hourtin, Carcans, Soulac-sur-Mer, mouth of the Gironde, Bordeaux vineyards, Dordogne castles, Pau castle, the Pyrenees, Oleron island, Ré island.
Websites and social networks: www.nouvelle-aquitaine.fr
Region: New Aquitaine
Sub-prefectures: Bayonne, Oloron-Sainte-Marie
Number of communes: 546
Surface area: 7,645 km2
Specialities: piperade, madiran (wine), pacherenc (wine), poule au pot, garbure, jurançon (wine), axoa, piment d'Espelette, poulet basquaise, gâteau basque, Irouléguy (AOC wine), Bayonne ham.
Sports clubs: AS Bayonne, RC Lons (women's rugby), Aviron Bayonnais, Biarritz Olympique, Section Paloise (men's rugby), Elan Béarnais (basketball), Hormadi d'Anglet (hockey), Pau FC (football), Billère HB (handball).
Competitions: Pau Automobile Grand Prix, Pau Eventing Competition, Pau Canoeing World Cup.
Festivals: Fêtes de Bayonne, Hestiv'Òc Festival
Heritage: Pau Castle, Pic du Midi d'Ossau, La Rhune summit, Bayonne ramparts, Rocher de la Vierge in Biarritz, the Basque coast road.
Economy: agropastoralism, hydroelectricity, agri-food, aeronautics, thermalism, petrochemicals.
Websites and social networks: http://www.le64.fr / https://www.facebook.com/pages/D%C3%A9partement-des-Pyr%C3%A9n%C3%A9es-Atlantiques/720037604708106 / https://twitter.com/departement64 / https://pro.tourisme64.com
Bordered to the west by the Atlantic Ocean and to the south by the Pyrenean mountain range, Pyrénées-Atlantiques (Béarn - Basque Country) is marked by this dual influence. The department owes its rich landscape, its mild climate and the complexity of its history to it.
In the south, the mountains offer a wide variety of exceptional sites: snow-capped peaks, immense cirques, narrow gorges, lakes, caves and waterfalls follow one another. It also offers the department privileged links with nearby Spain. More than half of the trans-Pyrenean crossings are via the Pyrénées-Atlantiques (Col du Somport, Hendaye). They bear witness to the tradition of exchanges and meetings. The department is also the place of convergence of the roads to Santiago de Compostela: Ostabat, Lacommande, Irissarry, l'Hôpital-Saint-Blaise, Saint-Engrâce... are all signs of this welcoming past.
To the north, the Pyrenean foothills are an area of hills and valleys that the Gaves widen into plains. Vineyards, maize, livestock and forests alternate in a mosaic of small farms that give the landscape an undeniable charm.
To the west, at the bottom of the Bay of Biscay, the department opens onto the immensity of the world.
Thirty-two kilometres of coastline only, but which offer long sandy beaches, then high cliffs pierced by rocky coves as in Biarritz or Saint-Jean-de-Luz, or by the wide bay of Hendaye.
A window on the spirit of the Pyrenees and their culture, nourished by diversity.
The Atlantic Ocean also gives the department a mild and balanced climate, with good rainfall that is favourable to agriculture.
A window open to adventure for the Basque whale hunters and tuna fishermen who discovered the new world and brought in their wake the emigration of our shepherds.
A window of opportunity for forestry production, for maize or sulphur from Lacq.
Km 0: Jurançon (Pop: 7,100)
Jurançon is world famous for its white wines (a dry AOC in 1975 and a sweet AOC since 1936), which were often served on Henry IV's table and were particularly appreciated by novelist Colette. Legend has it that Henry IV was baptized by having his lips rubbed with a clove of garlic and Jurançon. The main grape varieties of the appellation are Petit and Gros Manseng. These wines can be discovered at the Maison du Jurançon and at the Cave du Jurançon, located in Gan.
Jurançon is the birthplace of the Annie Famose, two-times Olympic medallist at the 1968 Grenoble Olympic Games, and one of the founders of the resort of Avoriaz in the Alps.
The town was also the start of an individual time trial won by Primoz Roglic in the 2019 Vuelta.
Km 0: Gelos (Pop: 3,500)
Set up at the beginning of the 19th century on the decision of Napoleon I at the Duplàa castle, the National Stud of Gelos is one of the most beautiful sites of its kind with a 13-hectare wooded park. It is the former summer residence of the President of the Chamber of Accounts of the Parliament of Navarre, one of the rare 18th century dwellings that remains in the local landscape. The stables house 140 stallions of 10 different breeds. 12 horse-drawn carriages are listed as historical monuments.
Today, it is a living enterprise whose main activity is the reproduction of horses, a symbol of equine breeding which ranks the Pyrénées-Atlantiques department first in France.
Born in Gelos in 1920, Jean Matheu-Gelas, who died in1989, was captain of the French national rugby union team in 1949 and has 24 caps.
Km 6.7: Bosdarros (Pop: 1,020)
A pioneer of French rugby, Hélier Tilh, six times international in 1912 and 1913 and French champion five times with the Stade Bordelais, was born in 1881 in Bosdarros and died in 1946.
Km 19: Nay (Pop: 3,200)
The town of the beret is also the home of Raymond Mastrotto, 6th in the 1960 Tour and winner of a stage in Pau in 1967. After his victory, the "Bull of Nay" was immediately surrounded and pushed around. Journalists stuck their microphones and notepads under his nose and even stepped on his feet. And Raymond Mastrotto, stooping down to massage his battered limbs, said: "Hey! I'm not going to win another one tomorrow! ". He kept his word.
Patrice Estanguet, world silver-medallist in canoeing, elder brother and former coach of Tony Estanguet, is a sports teacher in Nay.
The town's heritage is rich. In addition to the town hall, housed in the town's covered market, the superb Maison carrée (Square house), a Renaissance masterpiece (listed as a MH) or the old Turkish hat factory, which used to manufacture fez, you can visit the Bret Museum, which pays tribute to the town's main production.
It was in the heart of Béarn, in the region of Nay and Oloron-Sainte-Marie, that the beret was born, even if history later assimilated it to the Basque Country. It is also in Nay, on the banks of the Gave, that a magnificent Directoire style building (former beret factory) has been restored and converted into a museum to offer it a showcase and welcome the public. Here you can discover the history of this emblematic headgear of France throughout the world, its origins and the different stages of its manufacture, the unique know-how it requires, but also its astonishing journey from the pastures of Béarn to the catwalks of haute couture, via the revolutionaries and the film studios.
Km 26.5: Lestelle-Bétharram (Pop: 850)
Worth seeing for its listed old bridge over the Gave de Pau, as well as for its important listed religious heritage. Chased out of Spain with his family by the Civil War of 1936, writer Jorge Semprun took refuge for a time in Lestelle-Bétharram.
Caves of Bétharram
Asson is the starting point for a 2.8 km walk in the caves of Bétharram, open to the public since 1903 thanks to the work of Léon Ross, a pioneer in electricity in the town of Lourdes. The operation of the caves is still managed by Léon Ross' great-grandson, Albert.
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.
Km 32: Saint-Pé-de-Bigorre (Pop: 1,160)
Abbey and church of Saint-Pé-de-Bigorre
Foundation: 11th century
Style: predominantly Romanesque
Characteristics: of the Romanesque building, only two apsidioles remain in the eastern part, a section of wall in the southern aisle, a medieval porch to the west of it, and some elements of the southern transept. Some capitals from the cloister and the church, as well as elements of the destroyed eastern portal, are still preserved.
History: the abbey was founded by monks belonging to the order of Cluny, and 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, then seriously damaged by the earthquake of 1661.
Special feature: bought back 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.
Classification: Historical monument since 1977
Km 41: Lourdes (Pop: 14,400)
A cosmopolitan town, Lourdes receives millions of visitors every year from all continents. Since 1858, they have come on pilgrimage to the place where Bernadette Soubirous met the Virgin in a cave near the Gave. They come to refuel their spirituality in this place of fraternity and spirituality, but also to discover an exceptional site in the heart of the Pyrenees. In 2018, Lourdes celebrated the 160th anniversary of the apparitions. A stage of the Tour de France set off towards Laruns, where Primoz Roglic won his first victory in the Grande Boucle.
The town with 5 million visitors per year, the third most important pilgrimage site in Catholicism, receives the Tour's peloton on a more occasional basis. It was only in 1948 that a finishing line was drawn in Lourdes for the victory of Gino "The Pious" Bartali. On that day, the national hero of Italian cycling, who, together with Fausto Coppi, was responsible for boosting the morale of his country, took his winning bouquet to the grotto and attributed his miraculous victory in the Tour, ten years after the first, to Our Lady of Lourdes. Afterwards, he returned to the shrine each time he visited the region. Other stages have been held in the nearby resort of Hautacam, but in 2011 the last finish in the town was for Thor Hushovd, who was wearing the world champion's jersey at the time.
The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes and the Torchlight Procession
Separated from the rest of the city by a loop of the Gave, to the west of the city, the Grotto estate, also known as the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes, is a private estate of 52 hectares. It is open every day of the year.
From April to October, every evening at 9pm, a torchlight procession brings together thousands of pilgrims and tourists, from the Grotto of the Apparitions to the esplanade of the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary.
Km 59: Trébons (Pop: 760)
Named after the Roman general Trebonius (one of Caesar's future assassins).
Cultivation of the Trébons onion, known as "the four seasons". It is grown in the region of Bagnères de Bigorre and the Val d'Adour. This long onion has an exceptional sugar content which gives it an inimitable sweetness. It can be found all year round: fresh from May to July, dry at the end of the summer, in cebar during the winter and candied all year round.
Sobriquet: "Cebassès", onion growers or eaters.
Km 62: Pouzac (Pop: 1,110)
Home of General Laffaille (1778-1840). The village was specialised in the cultivation of millet. It lies at the foot of a pre-Roman oppidum, wrongly called "Caesar's Camp". On the Montimars, a votive altar to the god Mars was found. Remains of a Gallo-Roman villa near the church. Saint Saturnin's Gothic church (late 15th century) surrounded by its cemetery and a small fortified enclosure. It is listed for its 19th century bell tower and for its monumental baroque altarpiece, a 17th century work attributed to Élie Corau and Jean I Ferrère. Its wooden vault, painted like a starry sky, is still remarkable. The manor house of Serre-Devant or Château de l'Angle has been listed since 1990.
Km 64 : Bagnères-de-Bigorre (Pop: 7,970)
A little less frequented by the Tour than its namesake of Luchon, the spa town of Bigorre has nevertheless crownned some great names in cycling, such as Raphaël Geminiani, winner of the first stage in the town in 1952, or his protégé Jacques Anquetil, eleven years later in 1963. In 1952, "Gem" won the stage after a rest day, as in Gap in 1950. The "Grand Fusil" never rode on rest days, preferring to be with his wife. An effective method... Anquetil's victory was particularly significant for the Normandy rider as it was his first success in a mountain stage, and his first in a road stage since 1957!
Subsequently used mainly as a launch pad for Pyrenean stages, Bagnères-de-Bigorre hosted two new finishes in 2008 and 2013, when Dan Martin won there at the expense of Jakob Fuglsang, the year of his victory in Liège-Bastogne-Liège. In 2019, Simon Yates won here solo.
The thermal baths
The thermal waters of Bagnères are naturally hot and are extracted at 50°C. They are naturally rich in calcium, sulphate and magnesium.
The history of Bagnères-de-Bigorre is based on the name Vicus Aquensis given by the Romans, who already knew how to appreciate the virtues of its hot waters. Over the centuries, Bagnères has been enriched by a history written around the natural wealth of thermal water. Two main thermal baths welcome curists, the Grands Thermes, established within an elegant XIXth century building which valorizes noble materials such as the Pyrenean marble, and the Thermes de la Reine. The water of Bagnères is used in particular in rheumatology, for psychosomatic affections such as stress or for the respiratory tracts.
Listed as a historical monument, the Jacobins Tower, also known as the Clock Tower, is the only remaining part of the Dominican convent founded in 1344. The octagonal tower was bought by the municipality in 1833 and thanks to a generous donation in 1836, it was raised by one floor and fitted with a clock and a mantelpiece.
Salies Museum of Fine Arts
Between the thermal baths and the Casino, the museum was created in 1852 by Achille Jubinal, MP for the Hautes-Pyrénées from 1852 to 1870. He donated part of his collection, to which were added important State donations due to his friendship with Princess Mathilde, cousin of Napoleon III and mistress of the Count of Nieuwerkerke, Director General of the Imperial Museums. The collection was increased by the bequests of Justin Daléas, a draper from Toulouse, who had the present building built, to which Daléas gave the name of the nearby spring (Salies) which is said to have cured him. Completed in 1931, to the designs of the architect Jaussely, the façade is directly inspired by the style made fashionable by the International Exhibition of Decorative Arts in Paris in 1925.
Km 71: Campan (Pop: 1,500)
At the foot of the Tourmalet, capital of the canton that bears its name, Campan was, at the beginning of the 11th century, the third most populous town in the Hautes-Pyrénées department with almost 4,500 inhabitants, who lived off the forest, green marble and livestock. Today, tourism is one of the main resources of a town that has preserved a beautiful 16th century market hall, witness to an important cattle market, and several remarkable religious buildings, such as the church of Saint-Jean-Baptiste (16th century) and Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption in Sainte-Marie de Campan. Amongst Campan's celebrities are Dominique Gaye Mariolle, a famous soldier of Napoleon's armies, who was over two-metres tall and famous for his antics.
A statue of Eugène Christophe stands in the square named after him in front of the village church, in tribute to his 1919 exploit when the Old Gaul was forced to repair his pitchfork on the forge in the neighbouring hamlet of Sainte-Marie-de-Campan.
In 2016, a stage finish was held at Lac de Payolle, in the commune of Campan, and won by the British rider Stephen Cummings.
It is nicknamed "Little Canada" with its forest, lake and peaceful atmosphere. The lake satisfies both the contemplative and the more active visitors thanks to a wide range of activities: mountain biking, tree climbing, hiking, horse riding, water sports (pedal boats, kayaking, stand up paddle, fishing), cycling (ascent of the Col d'Aspin or the Hourquette d'Ancizan)
Km 77: Sainte-Marie de Campan
It was in this hamlet of Campan that Eugène Christophe was forced to repair his fork at the local blacksmith. A plaque reminds us of this.
Km 90: La Mongie
The resort has hosted three stages of the Tour (1970, 2002, 2004) and hosted the 1985 World Cup ski races. The cable car that climbs to the Pic du Midi de Bigorre (2 872 m) allows you to visit the observatory.
Km 94: Col du Tourmalet (2 115 m)
There was one big absentee at the top of the first ascent of the Tourmalet in 1910 – Henri Desgrange himself. The creator of the Tour had hesitated for a long time to include the pass on the route, a difficulty that had put off many riders, and the 1910 edition started with only 110 participants. The Perpignan-Luchon stage and its first Pyrenean passes confirmed the boss of L’Auto in the idea that the programme of the Tour was perhaps too copious... Already, before the start, he had suffered the wrath of some competitors. After the arrival in Luchon, he could feel that the morale of the troops, starting with that of the leader Octave Lapize, was not very high. Claiming to be indisposed, Desgrange stayed in Luchon to take the waters and entrusted the keys of the race to Victor Breyer. A great boxing fan, Breyer did not hesitate to show his fists if necessary. Desgrange was not really wrong to slip away. After arriving at the top of the Tourmalet, and then as winner in Bayonne, Lapize was not happy: "Criminals! "he accused. Desgrange was not there to hear him. Here is a crime that has gone unpunished for more than a century!
Since then, the riders have indeed climbed this giant of the Tour 81 times and will once again come to pay homage to Henri Desgrange's successor, Jacques Goddet, at the foot of the stele dedicated to him. In its long love-hate history with the race, the Tourmalet has already hosted three stage finishes, in 1974 (Jean-Pierre Danguillaume's victory), in 2010 (Andy Schleck) and in 2019 (Thibaut Pinot).
Km 105.1: Barèges (Pop: 230)
The highest spa in France, it specialises in the after-effects of joint trauma, sprains, fractures and dislocations and in rheumatology. In 1675, Madame de Maintenon and the little Duke of Maine came to Barèges to treat his claudication. In fact, since some farmers had noticed that their cattle wading in the water of certain springs healed easily from their wounds, the waters of Barèges were reputed to heal wounds.
In spite of the discomfort of the installations, the frequent floods of the Bastan, the landslides, in spite of the roughness of the places and the people, Barèges became the fashionable thermal spa. Before 1730, the road from Lourdes to Barèges was undertaken, arousing the admiration of contemporaries. The painful diversions via the Tourmalet became unnecessary from 1744. The military flocked. A barracks and a hospital with austere facades were built for them in 1732, rebuilt by Napoleon III in 1859. And the emperor signed, on May 6, 1860, the decree ordering the construction of the thermal roads, thus rehabilitating the one from Bagnères-de-Bigorre to Barèges by the Tourmalet. The thermal baths were built from 1861 to 1864. For a long time a simple thermal hamlet, the Baths of Barèges became an independent commune in 1946.
From 1920, Barèges turned to winter sports. The Ayré funicular was put into service in 1939.
Barèges has seen the Tour de France pass through on many occasions because of its proximity to the Tourmalet and even had the right to see its name attached to the big pass during a stage finish in 2019, won by Thibaut Pinot.
Km 112: Esterre (Pop: 190)
Construction: 10th century.
Style: fortified castle.
Features: perched on top of a rocky spur, it served as a fortress for the valley but also as a place of refuge for the population. In ruins.
History: its construction dates from the 10th century by the Counts of Bigorre. In the 14th century, it passed into the hands of the Hospitallers of St John of Jerusalem and later to the Knights of Malta. The English took it until 1404, when the Count of Clermont, with the help of the inhabitants of the valley commanded by Aougé de Coufitte, drove them out. The castle was then abandoned.
Special feature: the restoration was undertaken in the 1980s, thus safeguarding one of the most significant vestiges of the valley's history.
Classification: listed as a historical monument since 1930.
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