Off around 9 and got about two minutes down the road when we were stopped at a roundabout to let a cycle pelaton come through. There were several groups of about 50 riders- about 300 in total , and we caught sight of a kiwi as he swept by. 20 minutes more and we were in Bagneres de luchon- a typical ski town. In front we could see an enormously long gondal lift and so parked the car and headed to the ticket office, then caught a gondala to the top. Several parapunters were lifting off as we reached the top, and gliding along the mountain face and down through the valley below, awesome sight. Brian tried to find out if he could cadge a ride but you had to pre book...!!! There were mountain bikers, the end of an endurance race of oldies- a real sports arena at the top, and views to die for. There is also a hotel that you could book at. Off again through the village and then up and over the Col dáspin. Majestic mountains either side as we zig zagged our way to the top and over. This is ski field territory, they´re everywhere. Through another valley and then we tackled Col de Tourmalet- 2116m high and simply spectacular. Brian is in his element- this was the one thing he wanted to do- drive through the French Pyrenees and into the spanish side. The Col de Tourmalet is a Tour de France ride and at the top we parked near a statue of a bicycle and rider. Theer were dozens of cyclists going up and down, they must be crazy- you wouldn´t need to make one mistake, you´d be over the side and gone! Countless ski lifts line the valleys and mountains, hotels everywhere with new ones being built. Lots of very large cows with calves wander anywhere they choose, bells clanging around their necks. Down the other side of the pass ( me with my heart in jy mouth- I hate heights!) until we reached another spa/ski village where we found a hotel for the night- E47 per room only so still not too bad. There are hundreds of villages on the french sideof the Pyrenees- if i look at the map there certainly don´t seem to be as many of the spanish side.
In the late afternoon Brian and i took a path through the forest along the valley side for about 45 minutes, to St Jacques (Camina de Santiago pilgrim) chapel and cross on a promontory near the town. Great views as the town is nestled in a deep valley (they´ve had lots of major avalanches so you can see where the twon has built prevention barriers on the hillsides. Then wound our way back taking a ligher trail eventually ending up back in the town centre where we met up with Wayne and Delwyn, watching the village men play boules while their wives played cards, in a park beside the river.