The Citadel of Sisteron at sunset. A pearl in in the day, a diamond at night…© Municipality of Sisteron
• Stage town for the first time
• Population: 8,000
• County town of Alpes-de-Haute-Provence canton (04)
Riders of Paris-Nice are familiar with Sisteron, as the race regularly stops off here, but it’s a major first for the Tour. At the start in Sisteron, the caravan will be able to admire the panoramic, breathtaking views from the citadel that towers above the town and Tour followers will be able to sample the tasty lamb, a local speciality for which the “Gateway to Provence” is renowned. As for the riders, they will perhaps have a thought for poet Paul Arène, a native of the town and author of a work called “From the Alps to the Pyrenees”.
For the first time in its history, the gem of Upper Provence will have the honour of featuring in the Tour de France. At the frontier between the landscapes of the Alps and Southern France, between the lands of the Dauphiné and Provence, the home town of poet Paul Arène is an appealing place that can boast an average of 300 days of sunshine per year. It is also a gourmet place, thanks to the produce of its land, whose tender lamb and sweet apples are much appreciated by epicureans. Sturdily anchored on the foundations of its rich past symbolised by its monumental citadel with a 12th century keep, it is nevertheless a town that evolves with the times. Embraced by the waters of the Durance, shaken by the assaults of the Mistral winds, illuminated by the vibrant light of Upper Provence, “there emanates from this town an astonishing force, the force of eternity on the march that nothing can stop, not even the end of the world”, as novelist and journalist Franz-Olivier Giesbert once wrote. A stay in Sisteron is a must, and visitors receive a winning welcome… especially the champions of cycling.
La Cartoucherie© Juan ROBERT
• Stage town for the first time
• Population: 19,000
• County town of Drôme canton (26)
This stage finish is a first for Bourg-lès-Valence, now on a par with its great neighbour Valence that also hosted only one stage of the Tour, in 1996. Bourg had a practice run in 2009 by hosting the start of a time-trial on the Dauphiné Libéré, won by Bert Grabsch; the reigning world champion outshone Cadel Evans and David Millar here. The town boasts a dynamic club, the Sprinter Club: Christophe Edaleine, the former professional cyclist who participated in three Tours between 2002 and 2004, is a member.
One hour away from Lyon and two hours away from Marseilles, at the heart of the Rhône Valley and to the north of the conurbation of Valence, on whose edge it lies, Bourg-lès-Valence is a town with a population of 20,000. It derives its identity from a history linked to industry and the proximity of the river, to a constantly active economy, and to well preserved natural and rural landscapes, such as the banks of the Rhône. Graced with a broad range of facilities, including a brand new media centre which is an essential element of its booming town centre, a dense and varied web of associations, a dynamic, complementary and lively sports scene, the town offers an excellent quality of life to its inhabitants and is overtly committed to sustainable development. Bourg-lès-Valence is in fact the first town in the Drôme area to make electric bicycles available to its residents. A flagship of the town’s industrial past, the wonderfully renovated former cartridge factory is now home to the internationally-renowned southern Rhône-Alpes region Image Centre, dedicated to cartoon films.