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 Region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, situated in the extreme south-east corner of France, encompasses six counties including the former counties of Provence, Nice and part of the Dauphiné. Bounded by the Mediterranean, flanked by the Italian border and by mountains in the East, PACA boasts outstanding assets as a tourist destination, enjoys exceptional amounts of sunshine and lays claim to an assorted and delicious selection of local produce (wines, oils, fruit and seafood). This explains why it is the leading tourist destination for French holidaymakers and the second most popular tourist destination for overseas visitors, after Paris. The region plays host to an estimated 35 million tourists each year. Its pleasant surroundings and vibrant character have also always been immensely popular with painters and artists.
A very urban area - counting four cities with a population of over 100,000 inhabitants: Marseilles, Nice, Toulon and Aix-en-Provence (Avignon is not far behind) – it is also the fourth most populated region in France with 4,5 million inhabitants.
In addition to tourism, ultra-modern industrial activities and cutting edge technologies – Sophia-Antipolis and Cadrache – are gradually replacing more traditional industries, notably shipbuilding – Marseilles, la Ciotat, Toulon – and the region's agricultural sector continues to expand and improve in quality.
Languedoc-Roussillon is one of France’s most spectacularly contrasted geographical regions, lapped by the Mediterranean Sea and dotted with lakes in the south, hemmed in by mountains in the north and rural in between. In contrast, its climate is its one uniform feature and its greatest asset. Mediterranean sunshine has made it a prosperous farming area for centuries, and today this same climate attracts tourists and newcomers alike, fuelling a massive population boom over the last 50 years.
Agricultural production in the area, essentially wine-growing, is feeling the “credit crunch”, despite constant improvements in producing finer quality wine. The tourist industry has emerged as the mainstay of the local economy: the region is the third most popular tourist destination in France.
Generally speaking, a booming service sector has taken over from traditional activities, creating a migratory flow that transforms Languedoc-Roussillon year in, year out. Montpellier and the Hérault are the fastest-growing areas, but the population of the whole region – apart from the county of Lozère – is rising faster than that of any other in France. Languedoc-Roussillon could top 3,100,000 inhabitants in 2030: 34 % more than in 2000.
This rocky outcrop, overlooking the Alpilles Mountains, provides a breathtaking, panoramic view of the entire region; it is listed as one of the most beautiful villages in France.
Fans of the famous Letters from my Windmill flock to Fontvieille, a town entirely devoted to the author of this collection of short stories. The celebrated windmill is now home to a Daudet museum.
Its Roman vestiges and its bull fighting have ensured the town’s success as a tourist destination; this is one of France’s most sprawling cities.
Sub-prefectures: Aix-en-Provence, Arles, Istres
Population: 2 million
Sub-prefectures: Alès, Le Vigan
Sub-prefectures: Béziers, Lodève
Population: 1 million
Gérald Passédat© Jean Fondacci
Gérald Passédat, chef at “Le Petit Nice” restaurant, notably trained in the kitchens of the celebrated Troisgros brothers and Michel Guérard. Fish are at the heart of his cooking, which has earned him a 3 star rating in the Michelin Guide.
“Marseilles is for me a city steeped in riches. For over 2,600 years, such an ethnic melting pot of cultures has co-existed harmoniously here. Marseilles is located at the heart of the Mediterranean and yet is only ten minutes away from the countryside. I particularly like the Panier district with its brightly coloured houses and narrow little streets, the rue d’Aubagne and all its Oriental food shops: I find Thai, Chinese, African and Armenian products here and plenty of things at old man Blaise’s, who is a sort of local druid, in the midst of a lively area, buzzing with life. In the early evening, Marseilles takes on the distinctive warm red and orange coloured tones of the setting sun, so expertly captured by Paul Cézanne.
For my cooking, the Mediterranean Sea is my kitchen garden: I am one of the few chefs to offer forty or so long forgotten species of fish like scorpion fish or gurnard, throughout the year, fished using the traditional long-line technique. I also prepare my own version of “bouille-abaisse” (fish stew), in three courses: one devoted to fish, one to soup and a shellfish Carpaccio to start the meal. My cuisine is extremely touch and go: if I get the seasoning wrong, the whole dish is wrong. I hope it is as colourful and appealing as the deep blue of the Mediterranean. Like all loyal Marseillais, I’m a fan of the OM football team. In my childhood, I did an awful lot of cycling. Between the ages of 10 and 14, I was a member of a club that was called “The Happy Pedal” run by Georges Coupry. My father forced me to ride 100 km a week, which put me off the sport of cycling somewhat.”