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)
Although Alsace is France’s smallest region in terms of its surface area, it is the most densely populated one after Île-de-France and Nord-Pas de Calais. Its privileged location at the crossroads of Europe has made it the leading exporting region in France.
Alsace is made up of just two counties, Bas-Rhin (Strasbourg) and Haut-Rhin (Colmar). It has always benefitted from a degree of independence with regard to its nature and its functioning, as a result of its administrative and legal tradition.
Despite its small size, which is even less than that of Corsica, Alsace is quite a varied region. This is illustrated by its principal urban areas such as Strasbourg, the seat of the European Parliament and the headquarters for several international organisations. It is a listed World Heritage Site and remains an administrative, university and leading economic centre. A former independent republic, Mulhouse was the industrial centre of Alsace, and was called the “French Manchester”. Colmar has typical Alsatian architecture and promotes its traditions and its wines. Lastly, Haguenau is situated in the heart of the Alsatian forest.
This somewhat unusual French administrative region corresponding to a former province, the Earldom of Burgundy, (roughly equivalent to today’s Franche-Comté and its four counties – Doubs, Jura, Haute-Saône and the Territoire de Belfort) has retained a certain homogeneity and a true historical character.
Bordering Switzerland, Franche-Comté is a mountainous region, but it is also reputed for having the largest area of woodland in France, covering some 700,000 hectares, i.e. 43 % of its surface area. Although the fir tree is its emblem, the region also boasts the second largest deciduous forest in France, namely the “Forêt de Chaux”.
Population is concentrated around two major urban centres, Belfort-Montbéliard and Besançon, where many industrial activities are grouped. Peugeot in Sochaux, watchmaking and micro-technical industries in Besançon, and Alstom in Belfort, have all shaped the local economy and still strongly influence it today.
A paradise for cross-country skiers, the region has still to develop its full tourism potential. Yet its local fare - Morteau or Montbéliard smoked sausages, “Comté” (hard cheese), “Mont d’Or” (or Vacherin) cheese, vin jaune (lit. yellow wine), straw wine – and its abundant vegetation, which make it the greenest region in France, are sizeable assets.
Au XVe siècle, une météorite a violemment frappé la commune. Le Musée de la Régence en a conservé un fragment de 55 kg.
In the 15th century, a meteorite struck the town violently. The “Musée de la Régence”, (Regency Museum) displays a fragment of the meteorite which weighs 55kg.
Sub-prefectures: Altkirch, Guebwiller, Mulhouse, Ribeauvillé, Thann
There is no sub-prefecture
Sub-prefectures: Montbéliard, Pontarlier
Ghani Yalouz© Presse Sports
Ghani Yalouz, who is a native of Besançon, and the 1996 Greco-Roman Wrestling Olympic silver medal winner is today the National Technical Director of French athletics, having supervised the wrestling elite.
“I am still very attached to Besançon, the city that I left to go to the “INSEP” (the National Institute of Sport and Physical Education). As I am the NTD, I live in Paris. But my parents, my two brothers who have a clothing company and all of my childhood friends still live there. I still remember my old infant school, in the Rue de la Madeleine, and Pierre Brossolette Primary School in the Montrapon district. I also like returning to the “Place de L’Église” (Church Square) or going for a stroll towards Vauban’s citadel. I come back here at least once a month and as soon as I arrive, I go to the “Rive Gauche”, a restaurant on the “Pont Battant”. It is a very festive place which is run by my daughter’s godfather, who was a witness at my wedding. As for gastronomy, I like the local cheeses such as “Mont d’Or” which is served hot, “Morbier” or “Comté”.
Besançon has the atmosphere of Eastern France’s cities: they are lively at the weekend and calmer during the week. It is an attractive city, which you can quickly leave behind and find yourself in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by magnificent scenery. I like Ornans or Marnay, two wonderful villages, but also the counties of Haut-Doubs and Jura. Besançon is a sports city, with wrestling, female handball, basketball or football. Welcoming the Tour is a great privilege, and even more so as one of my best friends is the track racer Florian Rousseau. For my 40th birthday I received a bicycle and I often go cycling in Vincennes. I even had the opportunity to follow stages of the Tour de France with La Française des Jeux team. I also know Christian Prudhomme, whose company I appreciate, as he was interested in all kinds of sports disciplines when he presented the programme “Stade2”.”