Another new autoroute is due to open in January 2011 which will link Bordeaux with Pau – 150km from Langon to Pau via Aire sue l’Adour.
Whilst I can welcome the opportunity to reach such places with speed and ease, it is neverthless with a heavy heart that I realise that this could rob this area of its “hidden”, unspoilt character which has previously been one of the joys of this region for tourists. Wine regions such as Madiran, Cotes de St Mont and Pacherenc-du-Vic Bihl AC could become small detours for people rushing south to Lourdes or the Pyrenees – industrial and commercial development may despoil the entrances to small, charming little towns.
Progress is great but not at the expense of traditions and a way of life which made this area special – and sometimes a little less sophisticated. Off-season you might have to travel some distance to find a hotel or restaurant, but the tranquility of the countryside and the distinctiveness of its villages possessed much charm.
A similar impact was made on the Lot département when the A20 autoroute was opened – although the reduction in heavy traffic negotiating the streets of Cahors has been welcome. Fortunately the southern stretch of the A20 is seldom busy and some of the views from the motorway are impressive – even at 100km/h or more – However the views of the autoroute from the surrounding countryside are less welcome – although the landscaping of the route has been implemented as sensitively as is possible.
However. one other major advantage of the new A65 (l’autoroute de gascogne) will be road safety – the roads through the Landes are notoriously dangerous – often long and boring with few places to stop, and drivers anxious to press on to more interesting destinations. For more info see www.a65-alienor.fr