Stage 9 is that of legends. Though it won’t finish on a climb it will go over the mythic Tourmalet after coming off the Aspin. There are a bevy of towns to use as a base such as Lourdes, and the surrounding area. From personal experience I would suggest finding a spot closer to towns such as Argeles-Gazost, Bagneres-de-Bigorre or Luz-st-Saveur.
Without a doubt the best viewing spot on this stage will be ON the Tourmalet. The riders will make their way up the slopes from the crossroads at St Marie de Campan, where the road comes off of the Aspin.
The Tourmalet is very viewing friendly as you have the ski village of La Mongie near the top. Plenty of bars, restaurants and shops to keep you entertained. At the top of the Tourmalet is the Bar/Restaurant Tourmalet and having eaten there no less than 6 times I can say the garbure (hearty soup) is worth the wait.
Getting up the Tourmalet won’t be easy, it is an HC climb after all, but logistically speaking getting here in time for the stage is easily do-able for a first time tour fan. If you are staying in Argeles-Gazost or Lourdes you can easily climb the direction the race will travel OR come up the backside of the climb on the D918 from Luz-st-Sauveur.
If coming from Bagneres-de-Bigorre expect the road to be shut down several kilometers from the base off the climb so you’ll have a good walk if you have no bike. Riding from the direction of Bagneres-de-Bigorre would be MY personal recommendation as the crowd on the Tourmalet is something not to miss. It makes the ascent more pleasant than climbing up the backside from Luz.
Even for those staying in Lourdes, Argeles etc it is easy to ride the back roads to Bagneres-de-Bigorre and then onto the slopes of the Tourmalet. If you already know where you’ll be and would like some advice on route for race day feel free to mail. I’ve spent lots of time in the area and have lots of suggestions.
Most of all if you’re staying near Argeles and if you’d like a nice dinner check out Le Boiuc, it is at the base of the Hautacam on the D100 where it intersects with the D13. They have a great patio to watch the sunset over the Pyrenees. Try the grilled goat cheese salad with orange honey vinaigrette dressing.