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Grand Tourmalet is the central region of Hautes-Pyrenees department of the south west of France.
It is dominated by the mountain peak of Pic du Midi de Bigorre (2 872 m - 9422 feet tall) and includes the highest road pass - "Col du Tourmalet" - in the Pyrenees located entirely in France at 2114 m (6935 feet) altitude. The Grand Tourmalet is also the largest ski domain in the French Pyrenees.
The "Col du Tourmalet" is famous in the cycling world as one of the most climbed mountain passes in the Tour de France (in 100 editions of the Tour de France it was included 80 times!). The "Col" is popular with trained cyclists that start their ride in the eastern valley in the village of Campan, as well with the less ambitious cyclists that want to admire the scenery only from the descending slope and are brought to the pass' top by buses (busses that hardly have space for parking or U turns to the annoyance of the other cyclists and drivers).
The eastern slope of the Grand Tourmalet includes the Valley of Adour River and its chain of picturesque villages of La Mongie, Campan, Beaudean and the town of Bagnères de Bigorre.
The western slope with its towns of Barèges and Luz-Saint-Sauveur was unfortunately the victim of the big flood of June 2013 when the torrential rain and the melting snow of the mountains had turned the usually little stream of "Le Bastan" into a big torrent which destroyed many houses, camping sites and hotels.
For more information and photos about Campan - and its puppet tradition - click here
For more information and photos about the beautiful town of Bagnères de Bigorre click here
Beaudean is the native village of Dominique Larrey - a physician and surgeon in the French Army during Naopleon Bonaparte's times.
Dr. Larrey is considered the founder of the emergency medicine and the creator of the first French ambulances that are to this moment following his modus operandi of providing as much treatment as possible on site before bringing the patient to an ICU (as opposed to the American Emergency system for example whose first priority is the bringing of the patient as fast as possible to a hospital).
The house where Dr. Larrey was born still stands and can be visited - it is a museum dedicated to its epoch - but unfortunately except for its exterior structure does not preserve any other artifacts from his lifetime.