|BELKIN PRO CYCLING||BEL||14:10:14|
5 times stage town – 7,000 inhabitants (Saint-Gironnais) Nestled at the foot of the Ariege Pyrenees, in the shadow of the Gallo-Roman ramparts of the ancient episcopal city of Saint-Lizier, the capital of Couserans stretches its picturesque streets on either side of two torrents of water that hurtle down from the highest mountains, the Salat and the Lez, and meet in the centre of the city.
Its fairs and markets, which fill the streets several times a month with its local mountain population, are particularly lively and eclectic and always attract surprise and admiration from tourists.
Saint-Girons, which is home to the main commercial sector in Couserans also has a number of small and medium businesses: artisanal beer producers, coffee roasting plants, paper mills, cheese producers, santonniers, glassmakers, construction companies ... The warmth and sense of hospitality of its people, its excellent climate and strategic location as well as being the capital of Couserans enable it to assert its tourist credentials. The proximity of the Pyrenees and its summits like the Mont Valier and Le Pic du Crabère attract mountain sport and nature lovers.
10 times stage town — 8,700 inhabitants (Bagnérais) At the heart of the Adour valley, at the foot of the Pic du Midi and the Aspin and Tourmalet cols, Bagnères-de-Bigorre is the number one thermal resort in the High Pyrenees.
The benefits of its waters were already recognised in Roman times and today it welcomes about 8,000 people for hydrotherapy treatment.
Its ‘Grands Thermes’ offer treatments notably for rheumatology and respiratory problems.
But hydrotherapy is not Bagnères’ only asset, with the support of the community of Haute-Bigorre communes, it also demonstrates industrial know-how and is home to many specialized small and medium sized business in aeronautics and electrical and mechanical engineering.
The Grand Tourmalet also lies on part of its territory, the largest ski area in the French Pyrenees with more than one hundred kilometres of pistes.
Finally, throughout the year, Bagnères-de-Bigorre holds many cultural and sporting events including the Piano Pic and À Voix Haute festivals , the Street Arts Weekend, the salon du Livre pyrénéen and international tennis tournaments.