Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Touring Chateau de Mauvezin

Awoke to the sound of thunder and lightning about 7 am; hurried to get the big luggage back into the car before the rain began. Then, we relaxed and ate our breakfast before we headed out towards Tarbes about 8 am. We were still getting a few raindrops and the temperature was a cool 60 degrees. The first photo shows raindrops on the windshield! We had lots of time so we took the slow road to Pamiers and then down to Foix. Along the way we enjoyed the smiling faces of our girls (sunflowers), looks like they along with the vineyards enjoyed the refreshing rain.

I’ve put a few photos of the roads so that you can see the fun we have with large buses and trucks; a challenge that Jim seems to enjoy. In Foix we slowed for photos of their large Chateaux that looms over the city; then continued on our quest for the day. Last night Jim searched the Internet for Chateau’s in this area that might be interesting to tour. He found one in Mauvezin. Other than a brief run on the A64 to bypass some high mountains we stayed on the country roads.

We arrived in Mauvezin about noon and easily found the huge Chateau de Mauvezin that towers over the hill town. I thought last night that this was a newly constructed Chateau using old techniques. Wrong! This site actually goes back to 2000 years before Christ and the actual Chateau was construction in the 13th and 14th Century. In the 19th Century they started the reconstruction and repairs of the existing ruins and have created a major tourist attraction. It’s designed to entertain and instruct children of all ages about the life in a medieval fortress. We enjoyed our hour of touring and then ate lunch before leaving about 1 pm.

Now we wanted to see some of the roads for tomorrows Tour de France Stage 17 which will go back into the Pyrenees from north to south; yesterday they went south to north. Strange, but that’s what they are doing this year. Yesterday’s race went through La Mongie, a ski resort near the top of the Col du Tourmalet mountain pass; we stayed here in 2004 and our hotel…Le Taoulet…was right above the finish line. We decided we’d go the reverse of tomorrow’s route and go to La Mongie and then over the Col du Tourmalet and head towards the beginning of the race in Pau. From the bottom of the mountain we kept seeing signs that the road was closed at La Mongie but we decided to keep going even if we had to turn around.

It was an interesting drive….bicycle riders of all ages…slowly riding up the mountain clogged the road going both ways. It was further complicated by fog that got thicker and thicker as we got higher! Oh, and did I forget, we’re only a very narrow and curvy mountain road! We arrived in La Mongie and it was party time! The crowds had stayed from yesterday….partied today on the TdF rest day and will walk or ride bicycles up the closed road to the Col du Tournmalet tomorrow to watch the race summit near the end of the Stage. It’s about a three mile distance for them. It was fun seeing La Mongie; it’s really grown but they still have cows roaming all over town grazing wherever they want! The police finally turned us around at the top…that’s the photo of the donkey. Then it was back down the same foggy mess that we’d driven to reach the turnaround point.

At the bottom of the hill we decided we’d had enough and headed for Tarbes and our new HotelF1 for the next two nights. Found it easily by 3 pm and are enjoying the evening with television and free wifi connections. We have an Englishman down the hall who rode his bike up the hill today…he said it was a really tough ride!

Hope you enjoy the photos of our drive to La Mongie!

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