Bourg de Péage, paisible cité de 10 000 âmes, s’étend le long des berges de l’Isère© Ville de Bourg de Péage
• Stage town for the first time
• Population: 10,100
• County town of Drôme canton (26)
This 97th edition features another major first-time stage: Bourg-de-Péage, the former “felt-hat” capital. The town has also hosted two stages of the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré, including a time-trial, won in 2006 by David Zabriskie, winner of the Tour Prologue in Noirmoutier the previous year. The Tour passed through Bourg last year during the stage from Bourgoin-Jallieu to Aubenas.
Located at the crossroads of major motorway and railway routes, Bourg-de-Péage owes its destiny and name to the presence of the bridge over the Isère River built in the Middle Ages for the Abbey of Saint-Barnard de Romans. The reverends charged feudal duties for the toll, bridge crossing or levy on goods against a guarantee for maintaining it. The town acquired a solid reputation in the 19th century thanks to its production of felt hats, made from the fur of pet rabbits. The firm Maison Mossant, the largest factory, employed more than 1,200 workers at its peak and made Bourg-de- Péage the capital of hat-making. Today, following the decline of this industry, new businesses have set up and develop innovative technology. This expansion has been made easier by the town’s proximity to the TGV Rhône- Alpes-Sud high-speed rail link station. With a rich associative, sporting, cultural and social fabric, the inhabitants of Bourg-de-Péage can also benefit from the 12 hectares of the Bois de Naix woods, the second biggest urban park in the Rhône-Alpes region.
Mende from the sky© Ville de Mende
• Twice a stage town
• Population: 13,400
• Prefecture of Lozère (48)
Tour supporters will always associate Mende with Laurent Jalabert’s Bastille Day win on the 14th of July 1995. Out of all “Jaja’s” many victories - including four Tour stage wins – this was certainly his finest. His performance in the Causse hill climb earned him his best ever classification in the Tour (4th). Ten years later, the race returned to the Lozère county town for a stage that was won by the Spanish rider Marcos Serrano.
In the heart of the Lozère area, at the gateway to the Gorges of the Tarn, the Causses, the Aubrac and the Cevennes, Mende boasts a privileged position and a superb quality of life. Originally named Mimata probably in reference to the mountains that surround it, Mende has maintained a rich heritage from its history, in particular its 14th century gothic cathedral, Notre-Dame-et-Saint-Privat, surrounded by a charming medieval district with narrow streets or the 13th century Notre-Dame Bridge. Indeed, along with 21 other municipalities forming the Mende and Lot in Gévaudan area, it has been awarded the Land of Art and History label. Looking toward the future with a preserved environment, Mende is a dynamic town that is currently creating a business park for the arrival of new companies. Twice elected the “most sporting town in France”, Mende and its 80 sports clubs boast a wide range of facilities and the town is even home to the Lozère Multi-sports Centre, which enables young pretenders to high level sporting competition to combine their passion with schooling.