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, 11 pages)
With just over 730,000 inhabitants, Limousin is the second least populated region of Metropolitan France after Corsica. For a long time, the region remained isolated from major road connections, with its demography having constantly decreased over the past century. However, Limousin is making up for lost time. The creation of the A20 motorway linking Paris to Toulouse, in addition to the opening of the transversal A89 Bordeaux-Clermont-Ferrand motorway have facilitated access to the Massif Central region. The Poitiers-Limoges high speed rail link (TGV), as well as the opening of several air routes to England and to Belgium have boosted the trend.
Indeed, the Limousin region has known how to take advantage of its apparent drawbacks, attracting tourists in quest of that authentic quiet holiday. Tourism, in fact, offers vast development perspectives in a region where cattle farming (comprising more cattle heads than inhabitants) influences local fare.
Beyond the cliché of the immense corn fields of Beauce, making it the leading grain-producing region in France, the region of Centre boasts wide variety of landscapes and natural environments: forests, lakes, heathland, peat bogs moors not forgetting the River Loire and its sandbanks. Therefore the forest of Orleans is the biggest national forest in France, 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.
In order to step back into the 19th century and discover the way of life of the famous “maçons de la Creuse” (stone-masons of Creuse), the village has set up a spectacular scenography show called “Marion la Bénéventine”.
George Sand spent most of her life here in a small manor house in the village, now run by the National Heritage Centre.
Sub-prefectures: Bellec, Rochechouart
Sub-prefectures: Le Blanc, La Châtre, Issoudun
Frédéric Forte© Presse Sports
Frédéric Forte, the former Limoges basketball team captain, boasts 75 selections for the French National team, while winning both the French Championships 3 times and the European Cup once with Limoges. Now 39 years old, he is currently the Chairman of the Limoges Basketball Club.
“I spent seven years as player with Limoges and experienced my greatest sensations. In 2004, when the CSP (Limoges basketball club) filed for bankruptcy, I knew that the adventure could not end just like that. And now things seem to be picking up again. We have moved up into “Nationale 1” league and now we are in “Pro B” with an average 4,000 spectators and a healthy financial situation. The attachment for this club also comes from my relations with Limoges. We have all the advantages of a large town, though without the inconveniences. In five minutes, I am right out in the country, in the middle of the woods and alongside rivers, together with my daughters and my dog.
Every Sunday, we take an outing, our preference being the “Mille Vaches” Plateau. I also enjoy strolling through the pedestrian areas, Place des Bancs or the “Halles” (covered market). Apart from that, I love going to the restaurant called “La Chapelle Saint-Martin”: here again, just ten minutes from the town centre, in Nieul, we are parachuted into an old bourgeois home with a vast veranda and grounds filled with bicentenary trees. Like many Frenchmen, I follow the Tour de France, though am sometimes in two minds about matters: on the one hand, the difficulty to grasp the real feelings of the cyclist, while on the other, certain awe before such strenuous efforts. When I was young, I used to do a lot of cycling in the hilly areas of Normandy. My parents having bought me a new water bottle, my brother and I used to award ourselves points when we reached the hilltops. Just talking about it takes me back twenty years.”