Hope everyone has had a good night’s sleep on the rest day – I know my fingers need a break from typing quickly “Les Vaches” and sending it to twitter. If you do tweet, join us at @lesvachesdutour during the stages. We’re there for general race discussion as well as cow spotting, and love a bit of a #trolldj guessing game.
As Le Tour heads off south again towards the Pyrenees (still!), we spend a couple of days travelling through the Cévennes mountains, with today’s ride featuring 2 category three climbs and 2 category four climbs and a downhill finish.
We’re all hoping for less crashes and more les vaches as we continue to the Midi-Pyrenees area.
We may see some Salers cows around today as this is their native region. This hardy breed dates back a long time and its winter milk (from when the cows are fed hay) is used to make Cantal cheese one of the oldest cheeses in France. Apparently Pliny the Elder mentions cantal cheese in his writings. Cantal cheese is traditionally used in the cheesy mashed potato dish we told you about yesterday, Aligot. The summer milk, from when the cows have been grazing on meadows and fresh grass, is used to make Salers cheese.
Cowrespondent @jaybeenesq sent us some pictures from when he cycled around this area in 2006. He has in the past regaled me with tales of rural farmhouses he stayed in and the packed lunches he would be given to see him through to the next overnight stay. There was a picture of some Salers cows in the bunch… but this seemed a far more evocative shot.
Often these lunches seemed to finish with a slab of blue cheese. Oh I was jealous I can tell you! Lovely farmhouse cheese made from unpasteurised milk every day! It was probably Bleu d’Auvergne, which is much like Roquefort, but made in this region from the raw milk of Salers and Aubrac cows milk. It’s not just the style of cheese that creates variety in French cheeses, it’s also the milk, the specific region and even the type of food the animals have been eating. Bleu d’Auvergne for example is “produced in the “Massif Central” between Puy-de-Dôme and Cantal. The area is characterized by volcanic and granitic soil, which is rich in oligo-elements. Although sheep are mostly raised there, producers use cow’s milk for Bleu d’Auvergne, which gives it a creamier taste than Roquefort, made with ewe’s milk”.
So grab some cheese and wine (a nice sauternes if you’re trying some local blue) and settle in for another night of
cow spotting race watching.