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 second region in France in terms of its size, economic importance and overall population, Rhone-Alps is also 6th in Europe. This vast area covering 43,698 km² for more than six million inhabitants revolves around four main urban centres: Lyon, Grenoble, Saint-Étienne and even Geneva, which, due to its proximity, significantly influences trade and economy in the region.
Through its size and the specificity of its eight counties, the region, accommodating the Rhone Valley with the Massif Central on one side and the Alpine range on the other, offers extreme diversity: mountainous to the east (counties of Savoie, Haute-Savoie & Isère), urban and industrial to the North and in the centre, rural and Provençal in the south (counties of Ardèche & Drôme).
Across this vast extent, despite being the home ground of many industries, the region has not forgotten its farming roots, its fruit industry and its great wines.
In terms of tourism, choice in the Rhone-Alps is also extremely varied. The region not only boasts the most famous ski resorts of France, but also offers many opportunities for “green” tourism, whether in the counties of Ain, Ardèche or Drôme.
Gastronomy, just like in its capital, Lyon, holds a place of honour throughout the region.
The town developed by virtue of its shoe industry. Although activities have gone into decline, Romans still remains famous for its unbeatable “raviolis”.
This is the only Prefecture town in France that has no train service. Nevertheless, it remains a privileged access to the county’s magnificent natural sites and is the world capital of the “marron glacé” (crystallised chestnut).
Sub-prefectures: La Tour-du-Pin, Vienne
Sub-prefectures: Die, Nyons
Sub-prefectures: Largentière, Tournon-sur-Rhône
Laurent Paganelli© Presse Sports
Laurent Paganelli, who was born in Aubenas. He played football for Saint-Étienne in particular and belonged to the team when it won the French Championships in 1981. Now a consultant and reporter with “Canal+” television, he participates in the football analysis programme, “Les Spécialistes”.
“I was born in Aubenas, was married at the town hall and Aunt Adrienne still lives there. I have fond memories of those times: my first football tournaments in the region, the interminable games in Blaches Car Park, the Saint-Antoine district where I grew up, Rue des Cordeliers where we used to pinch sweets from the grocers… For kids, Aubenas and Ardèche were wonderful places, with vegetation everywhere. Everybody knew each other; there was always a party mood and no neighbourly quarrelling. This atmosphere has lived on, with much solidarity existing among the locals. Incidentally, when I am in the vicinity of a League 1 football stadium and someone says, “I am from Aubenas”, I always do my utmost to let the person in.
In terms of economy, the town has had its ups and downs. My father, for example, had to go to Avignon to work for the SNCF (French railways). However, today, youngsters no longer go to Valence or elsewhere; there seems to be enough work for them locally: in the shops, in the services sector or out in the industrial parks, although the town centre is just as lively. In terms of sightseeing, I recommend visiting the castle. The French singer, Jean Ferrat, lives just nearby; he keeps bees and plays poker. I have already met him. My cousin, Yves Paganelli, a singer and writer, is also a local personality.
It’s great that the Tour passes through our town, since this is a region that loves cycling. When I was young, I really enjoyed going to the Aubenas Grand Prix, a cycle race on a circuit where riders had to do 60 laps, including two climbs. There were lots of intermediary sprints.”