• 3 times a stage town
• Population: 15,800
• Sub-prefecture of Loiret (45)
If Montargis has often been positioned at the very end of the route on the Tour, on account of its proximity to Paris, it has, over the last few years, seen Paris-Nice launched from the neighbouring common of Amilly and the Tour de l’Avenir from Chalette-sur-Loing. Loiret is hence emerging as a genuine launch pad to the sun for cyclists.
The sub-prefecture of the Loiret district, situated in the Gâtinais area and the town centre of an urban agglomeration of more than 60,000 inhabitants, Montargis is one hour south of Paris, at the crossroads of the A19 and A77 motorways and waterways, and at the junction of the Briare, Loing and Orleans canals. Its location and the growth of its infrastructures will help the urban agglomeration to consolidate its position as the second largest economic centre in the Loiret département, in particular thanks to the development of its Arboria industrial area. Montargis is changing, Montargis is developing, praised by the increasing numbers of tourists who visit the town and by the new families who choose to make their home there. Its tourist appeal is based on a wide range of attractions such as its typical canals, the colourful and fresh sight of its flower-decked barges, and its many bridges which have given the town its nickname of the “Venice of the Gâtinais”.
• Stage town for the first time
• Population: 8,300
• County town of Saône-et-Loire canton (71)
A new stage town in this year’s Tour, Gueugnon is already famous among sports fans for its football team, “les Forgerons” (the Blacksmiths). Winners of the League Cup in 2000, the club’s players owe their nickname to the famous ironworks that brought wealth to the town before the slump in the iron and steel industry. Since then, and parallel to its expertise in this domain, Gueugnon has also renewed with its rural vocation of the past at the heart of Bourgogne, home to Charolais cattle.
Gueugnon is situated in the west of the French département of Saône-et-Loire in South Burgundy. Crossed by the River Arroux, it is at the crossroads of the Morvan, Charolais and Bourbonnais areas. It is generally perceived as an industrial town, despite being at the centre of a region devoted mainly to the breeding of Charolais cows. The famous Forges are now the site of the Ugine factory, a member of the Arcelor-Mittal group, the world leader in the stainless steel market. However, Gueugnon also has tourist and cultural attractions: green tourism, with many hiking trails, a heritage dating back to its Gallo-Roman past – a former potters’ village – and a variety of shows and events.
Sport also has an important place here, with 65 associations including Gueugnon FC, known as the “Forgerons”, a national club whose moment of glory was its victory in the 2000 League Cup. A mix of town and country, Gueugnon is a pleasant place to live. It’s well worth a visit.