Today’s 160km stage takes us from the Midi-Pyrénées to the Pyrénées-Atlantiques. Given the length of the stage, you might be expecting lots of big climbs. If you are, you’ll be as disappointed as I was to see that there are only three, packed into the last third of the stage, and they are a Cat 4, a Cat 3 and another Cat 4. These are followed by a downhill run into the finish at Pau. Transitional stages – how dull. There had better be cows!
There is a local hero in these parts. As we move into the Aquitaine region it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise to learn that we are in the home of the relatively new Blonde D’Aquitaine breed.
Image: Heuvelland Blondes
(Click on the above link to see some more great photos of the Heuvelland Blondes – Athena is particularly pretty.) Heuvelland Blondes tells us that this beef breed is the result of merging the Garonnaise, the Quercy and the Blonde des Pyrénées. After reading about the problems associated with birthing Belgian Blues, it is good to see that this new breed is renowned for easy calving. The calves are born conveniently slender, but grow very quickly and continue to grow for 5-6 years. The Blonde herd is the third most populous in France, after the Charolais and the Limousin, with around half a million head of cattle. The Blonde d’Aquitaine Society of Australia and New Zealand promotes the breed with the slogan
Cattlemen … prefer blondes
Perhaps what we are most excited about for this stage is the wine that the good people at DiscoverVin have selected for this stage. It’s the Domaine du Crampilh, Vielles Vignes, 2006 and we were lucky enough to have this matched to our slow-braised beef shin at the launch dinner at Libertine. It will go beautifully with a daube, such as this one, which also mentions our featured cow. If you are interested in learning a bit more about the food of the Midi-Pyrénées, have a look at this press kit from their UK tourism office.
Liberté, Intensité, Midi-Pyrénées