- The Race 2010
- All about the race
Founded in the 19th century by the French East India Company, Lorient has become in the third millennium the central point of the third biggest agglomeration in Brittany. Destroyed during WWII, the city rebuilt itself by remaining faithful to its origins while keeping an open mind.
Lorient is above all a sea front and an economy turned towards maritime activities, commerce and tourism. The sea spurred the city into developing naval activities and to give new life to an old submarine base turned into a theme park devoted to sailing and yachting, la Cité de la Voile Eric Tabarly.
While yachting and boating have become a major sector, other projects are underway like the building of a cycling track scheduled for 2014. Home of many famous yachtsmen, Lorient is also host to several yachting races like the Solitaire du Figaro, the sailing Tour de France and the prestigious Volvo Ocean Race.
Lorient is also bustling in terms of sports and culture.
Every year, the Interceltic Festival welcomes more than 650,000 visitors to a cultural immersion into the Celtic culture. Football and cycling are also central to the city’s values. With a football team playing in France’s Ligue 1, Lorient was voted the country’s number one sporting town by sports daily l’Equipe in 2010.
The bagad of Lann-Bihoue is turning 60 and it is far from retirement. Launched in 1952 by volunteers from the French Navy, the traditional Breton band passed the test of time and even resisted the army’s mutations. The thirty-man band, probably the noisiest unit in the French army, is now a professional orchestra working under contract with the Navy.
Made famous by a song written by French singer Alain Souchon and a star of the Interceltic Festival, the bagad has been through hard times though: in 1969, by decision from the Defence ministry, the bagad was suppressed. The outcry was such that the minister was forced to change his mind an reintegrate the bagpipe band.
The end of the national service again threatened the bagad but once again, pressure from many officers had the final say. Souchon recorded his famous song in 1977, but contrarily to legend, the bagad did not play on the record. They eventually teamed up with Souchon for a live show in 1989. The two were reunited in 2005 in Lorient to celebrate the bagad’s 55th anniversary.
Lorient inspired many sailors heading for faraway land, but the Tour de France history also saw some of its most thrilling pages written in the Breton port. The most controversial of eight stage finishes in Lorient was in 1960, when the Tour outcome was almost decided. For everyone, after the prompt withdrawal of defending champion Federico Bahamontes, the arch-favourites were Frenchmen Roger Riviere and Henri Anglade. They were also arch-rivals to say the least. Riviere had won the prologue and had lost the yellow jersey to Anglade in the 6th stage. Furious, the man who had joined forces with Anquetil the previous year to make sure Anglade did not win – the two had the same agent – decided to topple him once and for all in the stage to Lorient. His attempt was even more successful than he had expected: the Frenchman reached Lorient 14 minutes ahead of the bunch along with Gastone Nencini, Jan Adriaenssens and Hans Junkermann. The Tour was over and could only be won by one of the four escapees. All eyes were on Riviere but Nencini was a fierce opponent. And fate struck in the descent of the Mount Aigoual when the most gifted and the most unpredictable French rider of his generation crashed, putting an end to his career. The tragedy eclipsed the Lorient coup yet Anglade had warned that day: « Riviere will end up crashing. » He was tragically right.
|1666||Creation of a shipbuilding site near Port Louis on account of the French East India Company on a site called La Faouedic. The first ship to be built is called Soleil d’Orient (Eastern Sun) which gives its name to the site: l’Orient.|
|1720||The new town reaches a population of 20,000.|
|1729||Start of the « Traite des Noirs », the slave trade.|
|1770||The king buys the town and turns it into a military arsenal.|
|1920||Creation of the fishing harbour of Keroman.|
|1941||The Germans install their biggest U-boot base in Lorient.|
|1943-44||The town is destroyed by Allied bombings.|
|1945||The last Germans defending Lorient surrender.|
|1971||The Interceltic Festival settles in Lorient.|
|1991||Destruction of the last wood shed in which the population were forced to live immediately after the war.|
|Mai 2008||Inauguration of the Cité de la Voile (Sailing City) Eric Tabarly|
|2014||Forecast inauguration of a velodrome in Lanester|
The big centre dedicated to sailing and yachting was installed in 2008 on the site of the biggest U-Boot base of the Second World War. It hosts exhibitions, conferences, holds resources and documents on sailing but it is also a museum organised around submarine La Flore, allowing visitors to discover the art of diving, shipwrecks and the life of submarine sailors during the war. The centre is also home to the famous Pen Duick ship designed by Eric Tabarly and the starting point of Tara Ocean, a scientific expedition collecting plankton on all continents during three years.
Prefecture : Vannes
Subprefectures : Lorient, Pontivy
Population : 710,000
Website : www.morbihan.fr
The department perfectly reflects the contrast between the coast (Armor) and the hinterland (Argoat). It is also a land of moors, which occupy the centre part of the territory. The coastline is the wealthiest area and the most active: tourism in Carnac and la Trinite sur Mer, spas in Quiberon Morbihan Gulf, fishing, mechanics, fruits and vegetables.
The maritime vocation is manifest in its very name (small sea), drawn from the gulf. On the southern coast of Brittany, the department spreads over 905 kms of rugged shores mixing rocky coasts, rivers, estuaries and sandy beaches. And 42 superb islands, the most famous being Houat, Hoedic, Belle-Ile-en-Mer or Groix.
In the country, a dense network of rivers and streams foster the woods and the legendary Broceliande forest. On top of its natural heritage, Morbihan can boast the multiple remains of its pas: mysterious megaliths, chapels and big churches like Ste Anne d’Auray, once visited by pope John Paul II. And also its picturesque small towns with their tiny streets, their castles, windmills and legends. The 710,000 inhabitants live for the most part around the two agglomerations of Lorient (pop 120,000) and Vannes (60,000).
Plouay is one of the berths of Breton cycling thanks to its Grand Prix, held each year in August and which celebrates its 80th birthday this year.
The Jean-Yves Perron circuit, named after the man who created the event saw Laurent Fignon become French champion in 1984 before hosting the 2000 world championships won by Latvia’s Romands Vainsteins. Organised by some 600 volunteers, the Grand Prix attracts some 300 000 spectators during the weekend. Among the winners list appear the names of such cycling greats as Jean-Marie Goasmat, Jean-Pierre Danguillaume, Cyrille Guimard, Gilbert Duclos-Lassalle (twice), Sean Kelly, Ronan Pensec, Didier Rous, George Hincapie, Thomas Voeckler, while the 2010 winner was Australia’s Matthew Goss, winner this year of a Paris-Nice stage and Milan-San Remo.
The domaine de Manehouarn is a 48 ha park surrounding a castle built in 1758. In the park, several paths are ideal for walks or rides while a sports ground, a playground and a skate park are at the public’s disposal. Several events are organised in the park throughout the year like triathlons or show-jumping events.
Prefecture : Quimper
Subprefectures : Brest, Châteaulin, Morlaix
Population : 890,000
Website : www.cg29.fr
Finistere is located at the western end of Birttany. It is surrounded to the north, west and south by the North Sea and the Atlantic ocean. Almost half (118) of its 283 towns are by the sea and with a 1,250-kms coastline, the department shelters a quarter of the total French coastline.
It is also an urban area, 70 pc of its inhabitants living around the two biggest towns, Brest (Pop 200,000) and Quimper (80,000). Its museums, castles and lighthouses tell the story of a peculiar department, the most maritime in France for sure. The natural heritage is also remarkable in the Armorique National Park or the famous Pointe du Raz. Bakeries, canneries, greenhouses and fish markets reflect an economic vitality at human level. From printing to the transformation of seaweed, from oyster farms to strawberry fields, Finistere is keeping old crafts alive.
Historically anchored in agriculture and fishing, Finistere has aso taken advantage of the works of its scientists to develop electronics, aeronautics and shipbuilding.
At the confines of the Finistere, nested at the junction of rivers beneath hills watching over its historical quarter, Quimperle is a town to discover. The small port saw the light of day in the Roman times. The original town, dubbed Anaurot, was destroyed by the Vikings and it was revived in the 11th century with the foundation of the Ste Croix abbey. Since then, Quimperle played an active part in the history of the Duchy of Brittany. It was ravaged by Du Guesclin in the 14th century but rebuilt by the dukes. In the 17th century mansions and townhouses multiplied while convents and monasteries imposed their rule. At the Revolution, Quimperle was a big town with a population of 4,000 at the crossroads between Morbihan and Finistere. A subprefecture between 1800 and 1926, it became a major administrative and economic centre but the rail caused the downfall of the port. It also became a stronghold of Breton culture with writers like historian Dom Morice or poet Theodore Hersart de la Villemarqué. Painters and artists have also always been partial to its charms, while actress Sarah Bernhardt spent her childhood in town.
Ste Croix abbatial church
It was built at the end of the 11th century. The monument is remarkable for its size and its cross-shaped structure. Its tower collapsed in 1862 forcing part of the church t be destroyed and rebuilt identically. The cloister and the convent building are now occupied by the gendarmerie.
The Archers House
The beautiful townhouse built in 1550 houses historical exhibitions. Next door stands the oldest house in Quimperle, a former shop with its original stone counter.
Dating bacj to the 10th century, it collapsed in 1957 and has been restored in the 1990s.
The 15th and 16th centuries were the age of manors in Brittany. Bigger than a house but smaller than a castle, manors were the heart of vast farmlands. Kernault is one of the most beautiful examples of the period. Its farmhouse and dependencies, including a chapel, reflect the wealth of its owners, who played a major part in the history of Mellac.
The manor has an exceptional 17th century cellar with a huge timber frame, a rare instance at the time in the area. It was ideal to store the crops from the lands of the manor.
Saint-Thurien is the hometown of cycling pro Jean-Marc Bideau, who rides for team Bretagne-Schuller.
At the foot of Montagnes Noires (Black Mountains), Scaer is the vastest commune in Brittany, spanning over 12,000 ha. A pretty holiday resort, the land was once sung by poet Auguste Brizeux. Here, green tourism is more than just a formula with its 100 paths, its 600 ha of forest and its three rivers, Ster Goz, Aven and Isole. The town can also boast no less than eight chapels, megaliths, the menhir of St jean, the 10th biggest of its kind bur also wayside crosses, old bread ovens, windmills and wash-houses. Every odd year, Scaer organises a stamped with picturesque carriages.
The menhir of Saint-Jean
Seven metres tall, its is the 10th highest menhir in France and in the world. Now isolated, it once belonged to a megalithic complex spreading towards the village of Neuziou. Another six-metres long stone is lying 250 metres from the first one and a third monolith was mentioned in 1907 but is now gone.
The Kergoaler manor was built in 1718 by est Jean Corentin du Couëdic de Kergoaler. A private property, it was built on the site of older castles dating back to Raoul de Couedic, the first local lord mentioned in 1370. In 1830, three towers and an aisle were added to the property.
Form the Laz Signal (Alt: 240 m), the view is superb and spreads over the whole Aulne valley. The forest covers the Black Mountains and gives the area a mountaineering atmosphere by its vegetation and climate. The village church was rebuilt by architect Isaac Roblon in 1729 and the tower completed in 1827. The church contains two exceptional altarpieces: the Rosary altar and the altar of the Trespassed. The Rosary altar is decorated with a painting of the naval battle of Lepante in 1571. That day, the Christian fleet, placed under the invocation of the Rosary, beat the Turks. The altar of the Trespassed is the most beautiful purgatory piece in Brittany. At its foot lie the red flames of hell, the mid-section is white with a few clouds while upper part is blue and hosts the Holy Trinity.
STORY OF A BRIGAND
In January 1592, after years roving in the St Brieuc region, brigand Guy Eder de la Fontenelle settled in the forest of Laz with 400 men. Thefts, robberies, rapes and arsons quickly exasperated the population. Francois Herve, a representative of the area complained to the Duke of Mercoeur. In March, 1592, La Fontenelle burst into a meeting held to discuss his capture and threatened to cut everybody’s throat. He was arrested but quickly released and in 1593, he even took the mighty fortress in Granec, which he made his camp. A thousand locals besieged the place, knowing the bandit was campaigning around Morlaix. Back overnight, he had 800 peasants killed. He was later found near Carhaix with another rogue, the scary captain Yves du Liscouet, who lost a hand in battle and had it replace by an iron one.
LES MONTAGNES NOIRES (BLACK MOUNTAINS)
The Montagnes noires are an east-west oriented range of hills in Brittany centred around the town of Gourin. They culminate in the peak of Roc de Toullaeron which attains a height of 326 m. Other significant peaks include Ar Menez (304m) and Montagne Noire (307m). They are composed from a range of Precambrian, Ordovician, Silurian and Devonian rocks forming a part of the Variscan orogen and include sandstones, quartzites and slates.
The hills form a part of the border between the départements of Finistère and Morbihan and just extend into Côtes-du-Nord.
The Trevarez castle, dubbed the Pink castle, is one of the last castles built in France. It was built on the north flank of the Roc’h An Aotrou hill in the Black mountains at the turn of te 19th and 20th centuries by architect Walter-Andre Destaileur on request by James de Kerjegu, president of the Finistere department council. Kerjegu had all the latest commodities installed in the castle, central heating, hot water on every floor, toilets and a lift. He died soon after completion of the works and his daughter lived in the castle with her husband, marquis de la Ferronays. In 1941, the castle was taken over by the Germans and was bombed by Allied forces in 1944. Bought by the department in 1968, it was restored along with its beautiful gardens. Made of granite and brick, it was selected for the 1904 World Fair in Chicago.
The Castel-Ruffel gallery grave was built in the Neolithic. A local legend says that the stones were thrown by a giant living in the local castle at his daughter, as she was fleeing with the servant who seduced her.
Spezet lies in the very heart of the Finistere between the Black mountains and the Nantes to Brest canal. Its name is drawn from old Breton Spethtud meaning “the place where red currents grow”. The name appeared for the first time in 1216. Traces of an ancient past remain: several dolmens and the ruins of gallo-roman villas, fortified camps and Gaul fortresses. An Iron Age underground was also discovered during recent works. The village history is marked by several protests by peasants against their lords. Almost every century, a major revolt was recorded, the last in 1824. Like many Finistere communities, Spezet resented the 1905 bill separating the State form the Church while WWI hit hard, killing 197 men.
Spezt retains several traces from its past from its menhirs to its manor-houses, its grave gallery or the remarkable Crann chapel.
The Krann chapel
Built in 1535, the small architectural jewel houses one of the oldest stained glass composition of the 16th century and two magnificent multi-coloured altars form the same period. The chapel is also known for its butter pardon celebration taking place on the trinity Sunday. On the occasion, a butter slab is exposed on the St Laurent altar. In the past, three butter slabs representing the three parts of Spezet were on display.
Botanic garden of the Black Mountains
Created in 1995, the botanic garden of the Black mountains is conceived as a live catalogue of the local species. It is especially dedicated to conifers.
At the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th, Gourin was marked by a strong wave of emigration to the United States. A lot of Bretons now living in America originate from Gourin. As soon as 1928, there were some 3,000 Gourin-born New Yorkers, 400 of them working for a Michelin tyre factory established in 1901. A second wave of emigration took place in the 1950s. Between 1946 and 1955, 747 inhabitants left for America (13.4 pc of the population at the time). Three agencies had their headquarters in Gourin or Doudouallec to organise the flow of emigration. A replica of the Statue of the Liberty stands in the centre square to celebrate these links. Gourin is also the hometown of the family of singer Alan Stivell, who lived for a long time in the nearby village of Langonnet. Rider Florian Guillou (Bretagne Sculler) lives here.
It was built in 1768 on the spot an old manor and its aisle was rebuilt at the end of the 18th century after it burnt down. The castle lies in the middle of a 20 ha park, crossed by a stream and a pond. The name Tronjoly comes from Breton Traon Joliff meaning “beautiful valley”. The first castle was the property of the Kergoet family from 1426 to 1669 before passing on to the Lescoets. At the death of the last family member in 1984, the town of Gourin bought the place. On the frontispiece beneath the bell, a motto goes: “I ring on the call of duty.”
Notre-Dame de Langonnet abbey was founded in 1136 by Conan III a, duke of Brittany. Bishop of Cornwall Raoul was buried in it in 1158. In 1170, Duke Conan IV gave the monks several neighbouring villages close to the Carnoet forest to establish a community. In 1595, the monks were ousted from the abbey during the Wars of Religion. They returned in1598 but the abbey was in ruins and locals lors had seized most of the lands. It was partly rebuilt in the 17th century. The chapter house is the only part left from the 13th century abbey. The abbey is composed of an abbatial church, a cloister and a chapter house. The friars were expelled at the Revolution and Napoleon replaced them by horses in 1806, creating the first stud farm in Brittany. The building was handed back to monks in 1857. Its is now a east-home for aged missionaries and houses a museum of African art.
Prefecture : Saint Brieuc
Subprefectures : Lannion, Guingamp et Dinan
Population : 581,000
Website : www.cotesdarmor.com
Formerly known as Cotes du Nord, the department changed names in1990 for a more Breton and a more accurate one, meaning coast of the land by the sea. Its territory is split between the seaside area and the inner countryside and the Monts d’Arree.
Most of the population of 581,500 regroups around the three main towns of St Brieuc (Pop: 86,000), Lannion and Dinan. It is known as a breeding, cereal-growing and fishing area. The St Brieuc area is especially famous for its scallops. Pork is a major resource and the Plerin market is the main place determining the price of pork in France. Two technological poles are based in the department: Anticipa in Lannio is specialised in spatial tlecomunication while St Brieuc-Ploufragan deals with animal research and biological testing. Tourism is thriving on the seasfront. Te main seaside resort is Perros-Guirec.
On the Nantes to Best canal, Glomel is the home of treujenn-gaol, the popular clarinet played in central Brittany. Every year since 1989, an international clarinet festival is taking place with musicians from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Romania, Bulgaria or Scotland.
St Germain church
Made of granite, the St Germain church was built in1550. The tower and transept also date from the 16th century. St Germain l’Auxerrois is the patron of children and the church used to be filled by young boys and girls oft the pardon on the last Sunday in July. Nowadays the pardon still finishes on a Tantad, a bonfire.
it was built in 1430 by the Boutteville family. It is a typical fortified house of Brittany’s hinterland, which replaced the old medieval castles and had no military purpose. Enclosed within walls of granite, it is reached by an alley lined trees leading to a courtyard with several fountains and a cross bearing the date 1634. The garden is home to several centenary oak-trees.
The manor was built on the site of an older castle by members of Parliament, the Jegan du Laz, and was largely inspired by Versailles. The Jegan family owned the place until the Revolution. Tregarantec was bought in 1821 by the Peguen family whose descendants still live in it.
Neulliac is the home town of "la mère Denis".
Lesser known than other nearby tourist places, Mur de Bretagne has all it takes to conquer the heart of visitors and notably Britons, so fond of the inner Brittany. Its nature, its market and its simple way of life are assets that have been boosted by the transformation of the Guerledan lake into a leisure base. Guerledan means wide brook in Breton and refers to the Blavet, a stream blocked by a dam since 1930. The construction was a lengthy one as it started in 1923 while 12 kms of the Blavet valley were flooded. The lake was emptied every ten years since 1951, revealing the fascinating scenery of the lost valley with its houses, its gardens and its locks. But the lake has not been dried up since 1985 and the site’s exploration is now conducted under water. The Guerdelan lake now forms a « natural » border between the Morbihan and Cotes d’Amor departments. Various boating and sailing activities are on offer while it is possible to simply stroll along the banks and take advantage of the view. Its is also possible to ride one’s way around the lake from a mountain bike base as 300 kms of cycling paths are on offer.
Fond of the finest landscapes in France, Camille Corot was particularly charmed by the beauties of Mur de Bretagne and several sites of the Breton city feature on his paintings. The painter stayed several times in Brittany from 1829, often stopping in Normandy as well. His first stay in Mur dates from the early 1840s. His painting « La Destruction de Sodome » (now at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art) is on display at the 1843 Salon in Paris and is inspired by fountain sketches he made in Mur. Corot stayed for a longer period in 1845 and possibly the year after. The oaks by the Ste Suzanne chapel, still visible today, inspired him especially. Among the works obviously located in town feature « Fontaine de Sainte Marguerite » (Ste Marguerite fountain) and « Femmes entourées de paysans » (Women surrounde by peasants), both belonging now to a Philadelphia museum, or « Le portail de l’enclos » (Enclosure gate), which can be seen at Le Louvre.
Corot planned his trips to Brittany a long time in advance and organised them according to the friends or inns at which he could stay. Opposed to the romantic trend of his time, Corot is not attracted by the picturesque local folklore. He did not travel to Brittany looking for an exotic province but for the light and colours. Many of his landscapes are simple paths in the countryside and cannot precisely be identified.
After the Cote de Cadoudal the previous day, the Mur de Bretagne climb will be the second monument of the Tour tackled by the peloton. The locals are proud to call the hill the Breton Alpe d’Huez and they are almost as many on its flanks as Dutch fans on the famous alpine resort. The climb is often referred to wrongly as the Mur de Bretagne (Britanny’s wall) but Mur is the town, which owes its name to a Roman wall and not to the hill itself. The ascent became famous in 1947. Located halfway through a 139-kms time trial between Vannes and St Brieuc, it was fatal to favourite Rene Vietto, allowed Pierre Brambilla to win the stage while Jean Robic, the local hero, moved up in the GC on his way to final victory.
It is still a true hard climb, 1.6 kms long with a 8.4 pc percentage. It crowned the best climbers in history like Lucien Van Impe and has become a Tour classic, last visited by the peloton in 2004 and 2006. Two French riders live nearby: David Le Lay (AG2R) and Cyril Gautier (Europcar).
|Xe siècle||The counts of Cornwall become viscounts of Poher and Mur.|
|Late 12th century||A castle is built by Alain IV, count of Rohan. 1280 – First mention of Mur de Bretagne, which depends from the bishop of Quimper.|
|1496||Construction of St Suzanne chapel.|
|1790||First elected municipality.|
|1845||Painter Corot stays in Mur.|
|1873||Construction of St Pierre church.|
|1930||Construction of the Guerledan dam.|
|1947||Mûr de Bretagne becomes a Tour de France milestone with the defeat of Vietto and the return of Robic.|
|1957||Mûr de Bretagne officially takes a circumflex accent.|
With its 440 ha in surface, it is rhe biggest lake in Brittany, stretching over 12 kms in the Blavet valley. Various boating and sailing activities are on offer while it is possible to simply stroll along the banks and take advantage of the view. Its is also possible to ride one’s way around the lake from a mountain bike base as 300 kms of cycling paths are on offer.
Its ancient oaks were painted by Corot. The chapel has been a registered site since 1952. A first chapel was built in 1496 by the Rohan family and it was restored in 1694 when the sacristy was added. Works for the current chapel took place between 1693 and 1722. The graveyard is known to include ruins of an old castle, probably the Plaisance castle destroyed in the 17th century.
Built in1881, it replaced an old derelict building from 1630. From the old church, only a huge font and a lectern remain. The neo-gothic tower is 37-meters high. Under the porch, the disposition of the statues of the 12 apostles is typical of the Breton style of the times.
The profile of the stage, running over schist and granite 300 million years old, is marked by several rifts going from east to west. Some ten kilometres before the finish, riders will see a region of hills ahead of them. These hills are made of sandstone and slate, hard rocks which resisted erosion and formed bumps. They appeared at a time when what we call Brittany today was located near the South pole.