As I look out my window

Below the window where I work is a small street where water flows each side of the road as it has done for hundreds of years. It flows down the gutters on its way to join the Saurat river.

The river Saurat threads its way down the valley from up near the Col De Port. A hundred years ago the first Yellow Jersey of the Tour de France threaded his way down from the Col De Port. It was Eugène Christophe.

I am delighted by this.

1922 Tour de France, Col du Port, Eugène Christophe

1922 Tour de France, Col du Port, Eugène Christophe

Octave Lapize, Eugène Christophe, Ottavio Bottecchia, Sylvère Maes, Roger Lapébie and Gino Bartali have all pedalled past my front door. Names that I have known since always.

As I look out my window I can imagine the Tour de France for over a hundred years. This connects me to the landscape.

Ottavio Bottecchia 1923

Ottavio Bottecchia 1923

The village of Saurat was bypassed in the late 50’s. A faster road put in to relieve the small medieval street that ran through this once prosperous village.

After which, the village slowly lost its shops, bars and the hotels. The house next door to me still has an old petrol pump on the doorstep. It has not pumped since the late 50’s.

The once mighty Route National 618 road through Saurat is now relegated to RD 618.

Saurat 09400

Saurat 09400

Go outside my front door and turn left ( East ) toward the Cathar Ruins and the Massif of Tabe, follow the road to the end of the village and there you find the old gravel road. A lost highway of gravel and stone. A road dating back thousands of years. A route that linked mines and forges, farms and commerce, Tour de France stages.

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These racers from another era, these pioneers who toiled over this terrain, it is they who inspire me to explore and discover this ancient landscape.

Camille McMilllan