Stage 12: Pau to Peyragudes

The first mountain stage in the Pyrenees takes us from Pau to the ski resort of Peyragudes, just up the road from Bagnères-de-Luchon, where the equivalent stage finished last year. Along the way, we re-entered the valley of the Garonne, sister river to the Dordogne, which it joins at the Gironde estuary.

Saint-Béat_village_(1)

The Garonne at Saint-Béat

I think the river is more interesting near the Gironde, where a tidal bore that you can surf on propagates up through, and in the Spanish Val d’Aran where its headwaters lie. So today, I want to draw your attention to a tiny, inconsequential vernal pool not far from Saint-Béat, the Étang de Sasplays,

etang-des-sasplays-ge

Nestled in a little depression on the Pic de Sacaube above the town of Fos, the Étang de Sasplays, like all vernal pools, dries up in the summer. The spring rains fill up the two components of the pond, and with them come lots of frogs which breed in the fish-free pond.

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The Grand Sasplay

If the hike up the Sacaube was too much for you, there is a little cabin nearby (the Cabane d’Herechet, which has a sign in the photo).

The big men of the mountains reined in Steve Cummings before a final push by Romain Bardet wins the stage, and puts Fabio Aru in yellow.

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