Stage 9: Issoire > Saint-Flour

Tonight’s stage takes us through the Department of Puy-de-Dôme, in the Auvergne.  It has three Category 2 climbs, three Cat 3s and two Cat 4s, so there will be some slowing down to take in the scenery, which we hope will include cows.  This is Ferrandais and Charolais territory and we might spot some of those gorgeous Limousin as well.

The Ferrandais is from Puy-de-Dôme, which makes it particularly local, however it is also rare, being listed in my reference bible Cattle: A Handbook to the Breeds of the World as “endangered”.  By 1978 the herd numbered around 400 and a conservation programme was developed.  This may have saved the breed, a dual purpose milk and meat animal, from extinction although it could be too early to tell.  Numbers have increased to 500 cows, but the popularity of cross breeding them with the French Simmental, Montbéliarde and Salers might account for the slow growth in the purebred herd.

What'choo lookin' at? - Ferrandais

Image: Kranky Kids

The Charolais is a breed we’ve seen before on the Tour, but it was developed in central France so is something of a local, if not hometown, hero.  It is a breed raised for beef and the oxen have, in the past, been used as draught animals, which is where Richard Gunner of Feast Fine Foods in South Australia thinks they should stay.  He is a fan of the Limousin, rating it as “the best of the French breeds for eating cattle”, but describes the Charolais (and the Blonde d’Aquitaine, which we might meet later on) as “more cart oxen and can be as tough as something run over by one!”.

Image: Kranky Kids

 

Last night’s stage may have spoiled us, but the racing is really getting interesting so even if we have slimmer pickings on the vache-spotting tonight there’ll be action enough to keep us awake.

 

One thought on “Stage 9: Issoire > Saint-Flour

  1. Pingback: Stage 14: Saint-Pourçain-sur-Sioule > Lyon | Les Vaches du Tour

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