I spent the afternoon of the 21st March in Bagnères de Bigorre , which is a beautiful market town at the altitude of 550m and located in the foothills of the Pyrenees in the Campan Valley close to the start of the climb to the Col du Tourmalet. It has had a wealth of history since 28BC, when the Romans first developed the regions natural thermal hot springs. Over the years plagues, earthquakes and fires have shaped the fortunes of this pretty town.
During the summer the town is famous for its floral displays and the bars and cafes are busy with happy cyclists and mountain bikers. Much of the town center is made up of beautiful historic buildings and classical architecture.
My evening was spent with Carolyn and Stephan who own a catered chalet just after the turning to the Col du Tourmalet at Saint Marie de Campan. This beautiful chalet with 4 very comfortable en-suite bedrooms, is surrounded by lush green fields and the sounds of grazing sheep. The Tour de France almost always passes within 100meters of their door on the way up or down the Col du Tourmalet and on the odd occasion the climb is not used, then they would likely be using the Col d’Aspin, which starts back in their local village. Carolyn and Stephan are fantastic
hosts, keen Tour de France fans and a wealth of knowledge of the local area.
When I met with them last weekend, they still have a room available for the week of this summers Tour de France. Stage 11 from Pau to Cauterets will once again pass right past their door.