Stage 12: Cugnaux > Luz-Ardiden

It’s been a long, long ride from the western edge of France, to Normandy and right down the centre. Tonight, we finally hit some hills in the Pyrenees.  The sprinters have had their time in the sun (and the rail and hail), and now it’s time for the yellow jersey battle to take centre stage.

But before we get to the three substantial climbs of this stage we travel from Cugnaux across the flatlands of Haute-Garonde.  Here we are hoping to spot some absolutely gorgeous Mirandaise cattle.  These originated next door in Gers area and were bred to be strong, docile and resistant to heat. The oxen were used by farmers to work the fields, and would then be fattened up at the end of their working life, producing tender flavoursome beef. The introduction of tractors reduced their value to the farmers and they all but died out during the 20th century.  At the end of the 1970s there were no more than 150 cows and one purebred bull. But .. ta dah! In conjunction with the Slow Food Foundation for BioDiversity a program has been established to increase herd numbers and retain the pure bloodlines by educating consumers about the quality of the meat.

 

Image: Farming in France

(aren’t you glad they are saving them cow fans?)

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