For many spectators, the Tour de France route is an opportunity to discover the riches of the regions it passes through. The tourist guide, published in electronic format this year, lists the outstanding sites of cultural or architectural heritage for each stage.
Download the tourist guide of the stage(.pdf, 12 pages)
The leading grain-producing region in France, Centre boasts a wide variety of landscapes and natural environments: forests, lakes, moors and the River Loire. Therefore the forest of Orleans is France’s biggest national forest, while thousands of tiny lakes go through Sologne and Brenne.
Naturally such diversity is largely influenced by the River Loire, which crosses the region from east to west and supplies its many tributaries with water. The castles of the Loire Valley and the fine and fruity wines of Touraine make the region a tourist magnet which is home to three regional nature parks: Brenne, Loire-Anjou-Touraine and Perche.
Throughout the world, Burgundy is synonymous with the finest and most prestigious wines: Chablis, Nuits-Saint-Georges, Beaune, Mercurey and Pouilly-Fuissé. Indeed they are the symbol of an art of living and a tradition which are the strengths of the four counties which make up the region.
The region was the former land of the powerful Dukes of Burgundy and is also a grain-producing and cattle breeding area. Charolais, Morvan and Nivernais cattle produce some of the country’s most flavourful meats.
But Burgundy is also, and has been for a long time, an industrial area with mining in Montceau-les-Mines and steel-making in Le Creusot. Its industrial activities are more diversified around the urban areas of Dijon, Châlon and Mâcon.
With a little more than 1,6 million inhabitants, Burgundy is less populated than it was 150 years ago, in particular due to the depopulation of Morvan, which on the other hand is one of the region’s tourist attractions.
The village is renowned because of its famous white wine, Pouilly-Fumé. The “Pavillon du Milieu de Loire” (an interpretive centre combining tourism and nature) will provide visitors with an opportunity to discover the world of wine.
Those who visit the castle of Guédelon will also go on a journey through time: the workmen who are building it only use 13th century construction techniques and materials. The building work should last for twenty five years.
Sub-prefectures: Le Blanc, La Châtre, Issoudun
Sub-prefectures: Saint-Amand-Montrond, Vierzon
Sub-prefectures: Château-Chinon, Clamecy, Cosne-Cours-sur-Loire
Sub-prefectures: Avallon, Sens
Michel Caudoux, who is 60 years old, is a former clown and tight rope walker and the creator of the Circus Museum of Vatan.
“I am not from the circus world, but I have always been very enthusiastic about it. I was working as a projectionist in a cinema and that’s how I met the artists from the Amar Circus, who came to perform their act during the interval. They suggested that I accompany them on their summer tour. That was where I met my wife. For twenty years I was a clown and a tight rope walker. At the end of the 1980s, we settled in Indre in Vatan, of which she is a native. One day I asked the mayor to create an exhibition with all the items that I had amassed during my circus career. In view of its success, I had the idea of setting up a museum. A school complex was fitted out, while Dr Alain Frère, the Vice-Chairman of the General Council of Alpes-Maritimes, lent his collection, which is one of the biggest ones in Europe, to the museum.
Today the museum has seven rooms and attracts thousands of visitors each year. Vatan is not a big town as it only has 2,000 inhabitants, but it organises many events: a renowned circus festival held every two years, “La Fête de Lentille” (the Lentil Festival) and many sports events, including the Tour de France this year. Among Vatan’s monuments, there is the corn exchange, which houses the tourist office and is a listed building, while the Saint-Laurian Church, which has been renovated, houses the town’s original coat of arms. I also advise visitors to go to see the dolmens around Liniez and the castle in Bouges-le-Château.”