This area has a close affinity with the Tour de France and is often at the center of its gruelling mountain stages. It is no surprise then that many cycle enthusiasts can be seen on the roads along the valley, particular as the road makes it way up to the famous Col du Tourmalet. Mas des Hirondelles is perfectly placed to allow any cycling enthusiasts to “enjoy” the gruelling mountain ranges on bicycle, or to sit back and watch as The Tour travels through neighbouring towns and villages every year.
Le Tour de France has been running since 1903 and often finds itself routed along the challenging Pyrenean roads. A particular draw for cycle race enthusiasts is the road from Soulom through Luz St Sauveur to the mountain pass at Col du Tourmalet. Even if you are not a cycling enthusiast the road offers some spectacular scenery.
About Le Tour de France
On the 1st of July 1903, 60 cyclists set out from Montgeron in the south of Paris on what was to become the first Tour de France. The race was the idea of Géo Lefèvre, a journalist at L’Auto magazine. His editor, Henri Desgrange, was looking for a way to boost sales of his magazine and so let him go ahead with the race.
That first race consisted of six very long stages. One of them, Paris to Nantes, was 471 kilometres. The six stages linked the six main towns in France – Paris, Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux and Nantes. Only 21 of the 60 cyclists finished the first race. The Tour de France captured the interest and excitement of the French people, and now takes place every July. The race is split into day-long segments called stages.
The course changes each year, but the race always finishes on the Champs-Elysées in Paris. The riders’ individual times are recorded for each stage and then they are totalled at the end of the final stage to determine the overall winner. The rider with the lowest time in a stage gets to wear the yellow jersey. A green jersey is awarded to the leader of the sprint competition, and a polka-dot jersey is given to the “King of the Mountains” or the best climber. The best young rider is given the white jersey.