Highlights: Cycling Alpe d'Huez, Toulouse
Flight to Toulouse
My main purpose for being in France on this trip was for work, but managed to squeeze in some sight seeing and amazing cycling in the Alps. Toulouse is the capitol of the Pyrénées region of France. The interesting thing about Toulouse is it does'nt get nearly as many tourists as most flock to Paris. Becuase of this, the poeple of Toulouse are very nice, it's not crowded, and you can get by just fine without knowing french language. Toulouse is a bit of a tech hub with the headquarters of Airbus being located here, and many colleges keeping the area intersting with always changing art, and museums. Also, Toulouse was relatively un affected by world war II bombing so there is loads of history if you are a history buff.
I spent a few days exploring around Toulouse. This is a great city for walking at night. I suggest to stay at the Crowne Plaza in the Capitol Center. This is the best location for being centrally located. From the airport you can take the tram into town and then walk a few blocks to the capital.
One of the restaurants you have to checkout is L' Entrecote. They do not take reservations, and you will most likely have to wait for a table, but it is worth it. If you are into coffee you have to stop at the Cafes J Bacquié coffe shop. This place has been around since 1893. They roast thier own beans in which inside, you can taste before choosing from among eleven different blends, which include the famous Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee. Cafes all around France purchase thier coffee from this place.
Cycling in the Alps
It was always a dream of mine to climbing the world famous Alpe d'Huez. Driving from Toulouse takes roughly 5 hours to the town of Bourg d'Oisans which is at the base of Alpe d'Huez. I pre-arranged a bicycle rental through Prompt Cycles. You can also book guided rides and accomodations through More than 21 Bends.
There are many circuits/loops to choose from depending how much riding you want to get in. I started with the climb up Alpe d'Huez and descended the Col de Sarenne back to town. The climb up Alpe d'Huez is amazing. There was still all of the star riders names chalked into the pavement. The descent back to town is also a blast, screaming through tunnels along mountain sides.