- The Race 2010
- All about the race
A renowned and talented yachtsman, Raphael Dinelli is of course a lover of the sea. But the sailor is also a searcher who went a step further by creating the Ocean Vital Foundation to protect oceans against pollution but also to use the sea resources in order to preserve environment. A genuine lab in a marine setting, the foundation is testing innovative equipment through five research programs and their concrete applications. This way, it demonstrates that ecology can be compatible with technology and modernity. Set in the new bioclimatic complex of Eraole, the foundation’s research work is conducted in a huge laboratory in Olonne. One of the most spectacular achievements of the foundation was the building of the yacht Ocean Vital 1, which completed the 2009 Vendee Globe round-the-world race with Dinelli as its skipper. The ship produced its own energy. Ocean Vital also perfected the solar roof of the Peugeot BB1 prototype unveiled at the Frankfurt car-show in 2009. Similar equipment was devised for trains.
The foundation is also working on a Ocean Vital ship to be used for research and exploration, using a propulsion system creating no glasshouse effect.
The Olonne sur Mer marshes lie on a very old gulf which formed the La Gachere marsh and the Bassin des chasses. The stretches of land and sea are linked to the sea by locks and spread over 4,500 ha on the lands of five communes: Olonne sur Mer, Les Sables d'Olonne, l'Ile d'Olonne, Brem sur Mer, Bretignolles sur Mer and Vaire. Exploited since antiquity, they are now threatened by pollution and tourism. Needless to say that such a surface of land by the sea would be an ideal prey for promoters.
Associations were created for the preservation of the marshlands which, in the early Middle Ages, produced most of the salt consumed in Gaul. The marshes prospered until the 18the century when they were hit by competition from the South of France salines.
Fish farming then developed and remains an important field of activity, especially for eels, which are one of the treasures of the bay. They are particularly tasty with a pinch of Sauveterre salt and parsley.
Wildlife is another riches of the marsh: rare orchids grow in remote corners while migratory birds find peace and food here. Along the footpaths, ducks, curlews and spoonbills can be spotted.
To defend this heritage, the landowners have launched a union to try and protect this wonderful showcase of nature and history.
In the 1920s, the neighbouring city of Les Sables d’Olonne, which belongs to the same cluster of communes, became a regular Tour de France finish. Stages were organised in the seaside resort 13 years in succession and saw four Tour winners triumph: Henri Pelissier, Philippe Thys, Nicolas Frantz and André Leducq.
Nicolas Frantz, the 1927 and 1928 Tour champion was especially fond of Les Sables since he won stages there in 1925, 1926 and 1928. The air of Vendee inspired him since he also won a stage in Bordeaux in 1929 that started from Les Sables d’Olonne. It is in this very stage that the aloof Luxembourg rider held the yellow jersey for the last time.
|VIIe siècle||First mention of the salt marshes in a monastic charter.|
|1042||First mention of the Ste Marie d’Olonne church, probably much older.|
|1428||Construction of the Cordeliers convent by Guillaume Royrand, lord of La Claye and La Bauduère.|
|Début XVIe siècle||Rabelais stays in the Olonne Cordeliers monastery and is full of praise for the wine it produces.|
|1793||Joly’s army attacks Olonne and Les Sables d’Olonne to provide the Vendee insurrection with a port.|
|1866||Opening of the Nantes - Les Sables d’Olonne railway.|
|1928||Olonne becomes Olonne sur Mer|
|1950||Creation of the first major company in Olonne, Societe des Ateliers et chantiers des Sables.|
|1993||Creation of Communauté de communes des Olonnes.|
Registered as a “monument historique” since 1908, the church is the oldest being in the area. Its basilical style, frequently used by the Carolingians, leads to believe it was built before the year 1000. It was seriously damaged during the Hundred Years war but was restored in 1450 by Templars. It was then called Notre-Dame d’Olonne. It has housed since 1937 the relics of St Vivent, evangeliser of the Vendee in the 4th century.
It was built in the 18th century as an imitation of the Petit Trianon in Versailles by Parisian architect Nicolas Ducret for Luc Pezot, ship-owner and tax collector in Les Sables d’Olonne. The castle is surrounded by gardens from which statues were removed in the 19th century because they represented goddesses in the nude. Every summer a lightshow retraces the history of the Olonne country since prehistoric times.
Built in the 16th century, it was offered by King Louis XIII to Jean Martin, a local officer who saved his life during the siege of La Rochelle.
It is an old fortified house from the 12th century. The tower was probably added in the 14th century. The first recorded lord of La Jarrie was Charles Joussebert, born in 1440. In 1668, Francois Jannet, a king’s counsellor, bought the castle, which had been confiscated after the owner had helped Protestants.
Prefecture : La Roche-sur-Yon
Subprefectures : Les Sables-d’Olonne, Fontenay-le-Comte
Population : 617,000
Websites : www.vendee.fr / www.vendee-tourisme.com
Vendee is first of all marked by a strong identity based on 20 centuries of history from Caesar’s legions on the Mint des Alouettes, to Marshall de Lattre de Tassigny, form the monks who first ploughed the marshlands to the Noirmoutier fishermen.
Vendee is also a diversity of landscapes – farmland, plains and marshlands – and a 250-kms seafront with an incredible wealth in animal and vegetal species. A pioneering area for the preservation of environment and the development of solar energy, Vendee was also the first rural department to be equipped with broadband Internet. These assets attract more than 5 million visitors every year and have made tourism one of the first activities in Vendee.
Regularly ranked near the top departments in France in also a land of economic excellence. Its rich network of small businesses rate it at the highest European and sometimes level in many fields. It is the case for yachting, with the Beneteau-Jeanneau firms or with the food industry. Vendee remains the department with the highest number of businesses created every year.
Sport is another contriutor to these dynamics, not only because Vendee inhabitants are great fans of events like round the world race Vendee Globe but also because they also practice. Cycling is of course a major sport in the department with amateur squad Vendee U and pro team Europcar.
Coex is home to a pretty Garden of the Scents (Jardin des Olfacties) allowing the visitor to test varied smells and aromas while discovering biodiversity. At night, the alleys are lit and thanks to an interplay between lights and shades, living pictures are taking shape in the garden. Butterfly watching and games for children are organised all year round.
The magnificent towers of the Apremont castle stand up proudly over a lovely and picturesque small town. Built on a rocky mound at the place of an ancient medieval fortress, the Renaissance castle overlooks the Vie valley. It was built by Philippe Chabot de Brion, French admiral and a childhood friend of King Francois 1. Disgraced and rehabilitated, De Brion was buried in great pomp in Paris and his tomb was covered by an alabaster recumbent statue, now visible at Le Louvre. King Louis XIII stayed in the castle in 1622 after his victory in Riez over the Protestant troops of Soubise. In the chapel, an exhibition retraces the history of the castle, whose gardens are particularly pleasant.
The many wealthy houses and the remains of the castle restored by marshal Philippe de Clerambaut in the 17th century bear proof of the rich past of Palluau. A scene of the film Les Vieux de la vieille with Jean Gabin and Pierre Fresnay was shot in Palluau in 1960.
Its name (meaning Beautiful madman) led Beaufou to host the second annual meeting of the French towns with funny names in 2004. Beaufou does not celebrate the memory of a local but probably comes from Latin bellafagus meaning beech. A huge beech used to stand in front of the cemetery. Beaufou inhabitants are called the Melllerets, a noun with uncertain origins. Some say it means the people living on marly soil, others invoke the word mailière meaning moor. Some say the locals are thus named because they used to eat millet or medlars, a common fruit in the village.
Les Lucs saw one of the most tragic massacres of the War in the Vendee on February 28, 1794, when 564 people were killed by the troops of the Rign of the Terror. A memorial recalls the dark hour of the Vendee history. It was inaugurated in 1993 by Nobel Prize winner Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.
On leaving the memorial, a small path leads to the chapel on which are engraved the names of the 564 victims. Nowadays, historians differ on whether the killings took place in one day or over a longer period. Close to the memorial in the heart of a big park stands the Historial of the Vendee, a historical museum of the region from the prehistoric times. More than 3,000 items are on display: archaeological treasures, jewellery, sculptures, paintings and tools.
Placed at the confines of Poitou and Brittany, Rocheserviere appears in the 10th century. Many serfs probably worked on the rocky hill on which was built a big tower overlooking the valley, hence the town’s name. In the early 12th century, the castle is known to have belonged to a lord named Emmery, whose daughter married a Chabot, one of France’s most influential families at the time. They held the land for 250 years. The castle changed hands frequently afterwards and was abandoned in the 17th century. It was destroyed by the Vendee troops of Mr Grelier du Fougeroux in 1799 to avoid being used as a refuge by the Republican enemy. Only 16th century tower remain. The current castle was built in 1885.
The city holds an important deposit of eclogite, exploited since 1970 (see stage 1). It produces material for roads and concrete. The density of the stone is such that it is often used for embankments and docks. More than half the reserves of eclogite in France are in Vendee. Its rarity is due to the specific circumstances under which it can return near the ground as it was formed 45 to 60 kms beneath he surface.
Prefecture : Nantes
Subprefectures : Ancenis, Châteaubriant, Saint-Nazaire
Population : 1,256,000
Website : www.ohlaloireatlantique.com
Historically a Breton land, since Nantes was the home of the Dukes of Brittany, the Loire-Atlantique was attached to the Pays de Loire region instead in 1941, a decision which still stirs controversy today. A maritime territory, as its name reveals, the department stretches over 133 kms of seashores, half of which being beaches. Its vocation for tourism is well established with famous resorts such as La Baule les Pins, Pornic or Le Croisic. But it is also an agricultural land famous for its wines, muscadet and gros plant, for its saltern marshes or its salad (mâche).
With more than 1.2 million inhabitants, it is also an urban department around Nantes and St Nazaire, whose traditional industries – shipbuilding, bakery – are evolving towards new technology.
St Colomban was named after 6th century Irish monk Colomban who came to evangelise Gaul in 590 and settled in Luxeuil. Forced to leave the region by Queen Brunehaut, he came to the area in 610. Like most neighbouring towns, St Colomban saw violent fighting take place during the Wr in the Vendee. Republican troops avenged a series of defeats by genral Charette by killing 500 St Colomban civilians.
In Roman times, the town was called Deas. It was given by Magnobodus to Ansoald, bishop of Poitiers, who in turn handed it over to Philipert de Tournus as a land to supply the abbey in Noirmoutier. Noirmoutier monks left the island in 800 to settle in the village. They built the new abbatial church in 815 – making it one of the oldest in France – while St Philibert relics were installed in the church in 815.
The church was destroyed by a Norman invasion in 847, and the monks rebuilt it the way we can still see it today. The Normans retuned in 858 and the monks took St Philibert relics to Tournus, where the stayed until 1937. The Burgundy town only allowed a small amount of relics dust to be sent back in a box when a Tournus priest came to St Philibert to bless a statue of the saint.
In the 13th century, St Philibert belonged to the lords of Machecoul and Retz and was probably protected by a castle now long gone. St Philibert was then held by the family of Marie de Craon until de French Revolution.
LE LAC DE GRAND-LIEU
With a surface of 62.92 km2, the Grandlieu lake lies for the most part on the land of St Philibert. It is the oldest and biggest marsh lake in France. In the winter, it is the second biggest lake in France but in the summer, it goes down to fight by covering only 4,000 ha. It remains however one of the most fascinating wetland in Europe, close to some African lakes or the Danube Delta by the nature of the plants growing on its shores. It is an unlikely tropical jewel on the outskirts of a 500,000 French city.
The name St Lumine is derived from St Lupin, one of the evangelising monks of the land of Retz and from the Latin costa, meaning hillside.
An ancient gallo-roman city, Ste Lumine sits by the Grandlieu lake but it was hard to access from this end even though a canal was dug in the Middle Ages to solve the problem. The 15th century Notre Dame du Chatellier chapel houses a museum of holy art regrouping objects dating from before the French Revolution. During the War in the Vendee, St Lumine de Coutais was severely punished by the Republican army and 272 inhabitants were killed. Their names are kept on the wall of a windmill on the outskirts of town.
Arthon is the village of French rider Anthony Charteau, the 2010 Tour de France King of the Mountains. Trained in the Vendee U squad and a professional since 2001, Charteau also won the 2005 Tour of Langkawi and a stage in the Tour of Cataluny. Another top-level sportsman, former international goalkeeper Mickael Landreau, is from Arthon.
St Brevin lies at the mouth of the Loire, on the opposite bank to St Nazaire and both cities always had close ties. Its coastline consists of sandy beaches. Originally a small fishing and farming village, St Brevin faced major problems with erosion and silting from the 16th century. While the strategic port was fortified by Vauban, pine-trees were planted in the 19th century to stop the progression of the sand dunes. The landscape then changed dramatically, turning the town into a seaside resort. Its development was stopped by World War II during which it was partially destroyed by bombings. In 1975, the construction of the St Nazaire bridge linking both sides of the estuary boosted the economy, tourism remaining the number one resource.
St Brevin hosted the start of a Tour stage in 1958. It was won in Royan by Pierino Baffi.
The Saint-Nazaire bridge is a Cable-stayed bridge spanning the Loire river and linking Saint-Nazaire on the north bank and Saint-Brevin-Les-Pins on the south bank. The 720 metres-long bridge was inaugurated in October 1975. A toll bridge since 1994, it s now free. The Tour de France peloton rode on it several times, in 1993, 1997 and 2000.
Pontchateau is familiar to cycling fans as the French capital of cyclo-cross. The Coet Roz track hosted four French championships, one European championship, four World Cup legs and the 1989 and 2004 world championships. Ponchateau was also the starting point of a Tour de France stage won by Canada’s Steve Bauer in 1988. Pontchateau is also the birthplace of French director Jacques Demy, who won a Golden Palm in Cannes in 1964 for the Umbrellas of Cherbourg.
CASTLE OF LA BRETESCHE
It was built in the 14th century and restored a century later. Its name comes from Latin Bretecha, a defence tower overlooking the main gate. It was at the time a front post of the La Roche-Bernard city. During the Wars of Religion, it was besieged by the Duke of Mercoeur. It was later destroyed by the French Revolution before being rebuilt in the 19th century by Jacques Perrone. Registered in 1926, the castle was sold in 1965 to a real estate agency and now hosts a luxury hotel, a golf course and a gourmet restaurant.
St Gildas was a Welsh monk who fled Britain after a big plague in the 6th century and settle in the Rhus peninsula to create the St Gildas de Rhuys monastery. He died in 570 in isolation on the isle on the isle of Houat and his was brought back to Rhuys where it sill rests. The town was first called Lampridic and Gildas never set foot on it but in the Middel Ages, the local lord Simon de la Roche and abbot Helogon asked Rhuys monks to lend them relics from the saint to keep in their abbey. The relics were kept until the Revolution when they were stolen or destroyed. The monks built the current church in 1214 and it is a masterpiece of Benedictine art. The material used for the construction is unusual – roussard, a red sandstone common in the region. After the Revolution, the church was nearly destroyed but it was finally saved and restored in the 19th century. Stained glass windows were added in 2008 and were designed by international artist Pascal Convert.
The town is also renowned for its cheese.
Prefecture : Rennes
Subprefectures : Fougères, Redon, Saint-Malo
Population : 968,000
Website : www.ille-et-vilaine.fr
With a sea opening between St Malo and the Mont St Michel, Ille et Vilaine is the Eastern part of Brittany. Rennes, in the heart of the department, is a bustling city: car industry (Citroen), electronics, oil refinery are the main industries. The department is also the first French department for dairy while apples, cider and oysters in Cancale are among the local specialities. Tourism is thriving as well in resorts such as Dinard, St Malo, St Lunaire or Cancale.
Organised every two years since 2007 by cultural collective Les Articulteurs, the Taknaw Parade has become one of the key events in Redon. The participants are inhabitants of rural communes around Redon. But the Parade also calls on national and international partners specialising in street shows. Italian, Belgian and Irish groups took part in the latest edition of the Taknaw Parade in May. All the floats are made of salvaged materials. Some 500 participants and thousands of spectators take part in the parade, the theme of which in 2011 was “the colours of the night”.
Kept in the archives of the Rennes bishop see, the Redon cartulary is an invaluable document on the life in Brittany in the early Middle Ages. Its is the collection of the property titles of the Abbey St Sauveur, founded in Redon in 832 by Conwoion under the helm of King Nominoe. The collection of the texts was started in the 9th century under abbot Aumod. The names of two copyists, Juidcael and Gwegon, are known. The cartulary gathers 391 acts in Latin on 147 parchments of 375 mm by 275 mm. The names are in old Breton, especially those of the witnesses cited at the bottom of the acts. The charters deal with domains and lands located almost everywhere in Brittany. But most of them concern the Vilaine valley and the current departments of Morbihan and Loire Atlantique. They are a great source of information on the evolution of place names and family names and shed light on their original meaning.
Ploermel for instance was first known as Plebs arth Mael meaning “the parish of the mighty prince”.
The cartulary was published twice in 1863 and in 1998-2004. Another document known as the small Redon cartulary only comprises three pages of the 14 registered in 1840.
The Tour de France will stop in Redon for the first time yet the town has a rich cycling history. In springtime, the Redon-Redon race is a classic of the region calendar, held for the past 52 years. The amateur race revealed several future pros like Thierry Marie, second in 1984, Alexandre Vinokourov, the best climber in 1997, Pavel Tonkov or Simon Gerrans, who won it in 2004. The oldest Breton classic is often held on the same day as Paris-Roubaix. It took over from the Redon Grand Prix, created in 1937 and which boasts Louison Bobet or Rik Van Steenbergen among its winners. The Redon Criterium, a now defunct race, saw the victory in 1980 of Bernard Hinault, who advised Redon officials it would be a good idea to hold a Tour stage.
Among the riders linked with Redon, one can cite Jacques Renaud, who took part in four Tours between 1959 and 1953. He was for a long time the president of the local cycling club. Former Louison Bobet team-mate Charles Danielou was born in Redon.
|832||Breton monk Conwoion created the Saint-Sauveur de Redon abbey.|
|XIVe siècle||Fortification of Redon led by abbot Jean de Treal.|
|1449||Redon becomes a bishop see.|
|1489||Treaty of Redon between Anne de Bretagne and King of England Henri VII.|
|XVIe siècle||Canalisation of the Vilaine and development of the port.|
|1836||Creation of the tidal basin. Redon becomes the centre point of the waterways of Western France.|
|1864||Creation of the Pierre Chevalier steelworks.|
|Fin XIXe siècle||Creation of mechanical factory Garnier.|
It was founded in 832 by Conwoion and was at its peak in the late 11th and early 12th centuries. In 1622, Richelieu was the abbot of the monastery. In 1839, Eudists settled and transformed the abbey into a college. Nowadays, the abbey is home to a private catholic high school. To the original buildings have been added in the 12th century a transept and a cloister. Medieval frescos have been unveiled during a restoration in 1950 and the modern stained glass windows are by Gruber. The tower is considered one of the finest Romanesque buildings in Brittany.
Located by the tidal basin and signalled by two genuine lock gates, the museum is dedicated to inland water shipping, the activity which made the wealth of Redon and its region for many years. A documentary film serves as an introduction while objects, photographs, documents and models haled to explain the life of bargees and the functioning of canals.
The peloton will ride across the southern border of the Armorican massif, a succession of schists and granites dating from 320 million years. From kilometre 163, in Pontchateau, the riders will change geological continents and cross the South-Armorican shear, a large south-western-bound rift going as far as the Massif Central and marking the limit between two ancient continents, Gondwana in the south and Armorica in the north. Those two vast pieces of Earth’s crust collided 380 million years ago.