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, 10 pages)
Catalonia is a region that stretches out over 32,000 km², that is to say the size of Belgium and is situated in North East Spain. It borders France and the Principality of Andorra to the north, Aragon to the west, the community of Valencia to the south and the Mediterranean Sea to the east.
It represents an Autonomous Community within Spain, which is administratively divided into four regions: Barcelona, Girona, Lleida and Tarragona.
The population of Catalonia is roughly 7 million inhabitants. Catalan is the mother tongue of roughly 60 % of the population and Castilian of almost 35 % of it. Catalonia is the second leading region in Spain (after Andalusia) and is also one of the richest and most dynamic ones.
Around 210 BC, Catalonia was conquered by the Romans and was Latinized. In the 5th century, the Visigoths took possession of this region and gave it its current name: Gotholonia (the country of the Goths). The region was then captured by the Arabs in 712 and recaptured by Charlemagne at the end of the 8th century. It was united with the Kingdom of Aragon in the 12th century and kept its flag. In 1472, it became part of Spain and continued to be very independent despite a severe repression in the 18th century. It resumed an autonomous status in the 1930s, which was repealed by Francoism, but was restored in 1978.
On an economic level, Catalonia is more industrialized than the rest of Spain. It has one of the most powerful banking sectors in Europe and has established itself as the leading tourist destination in Spain thanks to Barcelona, its coastal beaches and its ski resorts.
Famous for its Jesuit heritage; the finest monument in Manresa is the Basilica of Santa Maria, known as “La Seu” by the locals.
A small perched hilltop village, Cardona is renowned for its picturesque castle, the most impressive and important medieval fortress in the province of Catalonia. Combining Romanesque and Gothic styles, it was the fief of the Dukes of Cardona.
Located between two rivers, the Sègre and the Valira, in the middle of a plain and dominated in the distance by a magnificent mountain range, La Seu d’Urgell, the capital of the comarc (county) of Alt Urgell, is the seat of the bishopric of Urgell.
Towns: Upper Penedès, Anoia, Bages, Lower Llobregat, Barcelonès, Berguedà, Garraf, Maresme, Osona, Vallès Occidental and Vallès Oriental
The cellist Lluis Claret, won the Rostropovitch Prize in 1977. He has since gone on to enjoy a brilliant international career (invited by prestigious orchestras like the Washington National Symphony and the French National Orchestra). He teaches at Catalonia’s Advanced School of Music and the Toulouse National Conservatory.
“I was born in Andorra and I lived there until I was 14. I then moved away to study in Barcelona and Paris but I have always kept my home there. I go there 2 or 3 times a month, to give lessons to the young performers of the “Andorra Institute”, to perform in concerts or simply for a holiday. My childhood recollections are very happy ones as Andorra at that time was like a “great big village” where everybody knew each other. We would often go on outings into the mountains to look for mushrooms and enjoyed eating them together as a family on the banks of a little river. Andorra symbolises my roots, simple and affectionate relationships with friends, even if we also had our very own “War of the Buttons” between different “warring” districts of the town. Andorra today I would describe as a little piece of paradise in the heart of the Pyrenees… if you know where to find the most charming spots! There are some extremely beautiful Romanesque chapels. I particularly like “Sant Joan de Caselles”, situated on the road that leads to France. And another notable place to visit is of course the Auditorium in Ordino, where almost all my concerts have been performed.
I’m not a cyclist but I followed the Tour de France for a long time on television. Jacques Goddet was a friend of my father’s, and he followed a few stages in his car. At home, his passion for the Tour was catching. I was always for Poulidor.”