When you first drive a road and later back home begin writing down your experience giving your text the title “Jaguar kissed by a horse on Col du Tourmalet”, you know you have seen something special. Years of road tripping around Europe has left me with wonderful memories. Some memories I have been lucky enough to capture on photo to share with others, and some moments flew by so fast that before the camera was in my hands, that special thing was already gone. Luckily memories live on inside as well.
"When I was back in the driver’s seat again, in my mind thinking anything after this is a bonus because that corner shot was everything I could have asked for, there was an even bigger surprise behind the next corner. Horses by the side of the road. Maybe they were wild, or maybe someone owns them but they just have free access to the mountains and the roads. However the photographer in me again saw a photo opportunity. I stopped the car by the side of the road with a white horse standing in the background, turned off the engine, and walked out to shoot a photo. I dreamt of a shot of the F-TYPE in the front and the horse standing in the background. Got that photo – done. Before I even made an attempt to return to the car the white horse walked up to it.I still love my shot in the earlier corner but when I look at these photos of the Jaguar F-TYPE meeting what could have been a wild horse on a beautiful mountain pass in France, it feels like not much can beat that timing, and I wonder if I ever will experience a moment like this again. Incredible luck! Incredible horse!"
If someone asked me for some of my most memorable road trip moments this would be high on my list. It was a surreal moment to see the horse walk up to the car and rest its muffle on it. It left me speechless, I did not want to disturb. The horse showed no signs of wanting to part from the car, and it was not before I started walking back to the car that the horse moved to the side. What are the odds for such thing to happen? And how lucky am I to have that memory not only in my head, but also as a photo?
Col du Tourmalet in the French Pyrenees is a must-drive. Perhaps you will not see a horse, or even a llama, but as a driving road it is phenomenal. It has some of the most gorgeous road curves and photo locations you can find in this area of France. Rising 2,115 m above sea level Col du Tourmalet is also the highest paved mountain pass in the French Pyrenees.
Col du Tourmalet as a name might ring a bell, because it is one of the most famous climbs of Tour de France. When you reach the peak your eyes are first drawn to the statue of road racing cyclist and Tour de France winner Octave Lapize. In La Mongie you can if you wish park your car and take the cable car up to Observatoire du Pic du Midi de Bigorre at 2,877 m. As an unforgettable once-in-a-lifetime experience you could also choose to book a room at this astronomical observatory and sleep above the clouds, under the stars. Falling asleep and waking up to a view like the one from there must be magical.
When I drove Col du Tourmalet during the last days of September there was not a cyclist to be seen anywhere. A few cars passed by, but other than that the road was empty. The landscape was quiet. There were a few animals, me, and the roar from the Jaguar F-TYPE R V8 echoing in the mountains. If you want to enjoy your ride on empty roads, go as early or late in the season as you possibly can. If you are lucky the road could be all yours.
Map link: goo.gl/maps/49by36HhzZ22 (road is closed at the moment, so it will not display the right route before the road opens again in May/June 2017)