- The Race 2010
- All about the race
Capital of the Poher (pretty land in Breton), Carhaix is one of the oldest cities in the west of France, founded some 2,000 years ago by te Romans. It has become today an essential crossroads in the Brittany region. Its dynamism cannot only be seen through its successful fight to retain maternity and surgery blocks in its hospital a couple of years ago. In the heart of an activity zone of more than 110,000 jobs, the town has 250 shops and services and is home to more than 190 associations. Its central location has helped Carhaix attract new companies such as OCP Répartitions and EB-Trans, who created 130 jobs in 2010. While a new complex based on ecology should soon see the light of day, Chinese investors are expected to create 100 more jobs in the dairy sector. Thanks to its location, Carhaix can also boast the only Diwan (Breton speaking) high-school in Brittany. A fifth of Carhaix pupils follow bilingual studies. Carhaix also houses the Public Office for the Breton language, which will move to the Kerampuilh castle in the near-future.
The idea of the Vieilles Charrues festival started as a friendly gamble by three young men in Landeleau in 1992. Realising that all eyes were on the Vieux Gréements festival (Old Sails festival) in Brest, they decided as a joke to call heir own event the Old Ploughs as a joke to revitalise the hinterland. In 1995, the festival moved to Carhaix and 10,000 spectators flocked on the Champ de Foire square from which the Tour stage will start on July 6.
In 1998, the festival moved to the Kerampuilh prairie. Joe Cocker, Joan Baez, Manu Chao, Noir Désir, Johnny Hallyday, Ben Harper, Alain Souchon, -M-, Julien Clerc, Bruce Springsteen… The stars love the festival as much as the festival loves them.
With 242,000 spectators in 2010 and 5,500 volunteers, les Vieiles Charrues keeps breaking records and is now France’s number one musical event. It will celebrate its 20th anniversary from July 14 to 17 on the same site. A formidable boost for the image and economy of the town, the Vieiles Charrues hands back a proportion of its revenue to local cultural associations.
July is always a special month for Carhaix with the Vieilles Charrues festival but it will be even more so this year with the Tour de France. In the last few years, the town geared up for the occasion by staging several stage finishes of the Kreizh Breizh race. Mathieu Ladagnous in 2005 or Cyril Gautier in 2008 took recent laurels in town.
Carhaix was also the birthplace of Loic Le Flohic, a gifted Breton rider who won a Tour de l’Avenir stage but never held his promises in his three seasons as a professional in the Peugeot team (1986-1988). Credited with one of the longest breaks of history in the 1986 Bordeaux-Paris, Le Flohic was killed in a car crash in 1998. The Route Bretonne race now awards a Loic Le Flohic trophy in his memory.
|3rd century||The town is known by its Gaul name of Vorgion, capital of the Osisms and holds a strategic position during the Roman occupation.|
|6th century||Carhaix possibly drew its name from Caer Ahes – castle of princess Ahes, the daughter of King Gradlon. It becomes the capital of Poher.|
|818||Louis the Pious comes to Carhaix to rule over Brittany.|
|938||Alan II Wrybeard includes Carhaix into the Duchy of Britanny.|
|1341 à 1347||Carhaix est très disputée lors de la Guerre de Succession de Bretagne.|
|1675||Revolt of the papier timbré.|
|1957||Carhaix is united to Plouguer to form Carhaix-Plouguer.|
|1995||The Vieilles Charrues festival settles in Carhaix.|
The 16th century house was the residence of Guillaume Guinamant, seneschal of Carhaix at the Estates General in 1576 and 1577 and one of the authors of the new custom of Brittany in 1580. It now houses the Tourist Information Office
It was built in 1760 and was then called the Battlefield square. A bronze statue of Theophile Malo Corret de La Tour d'Auvergne, sculpted by baron Carlo Marochetti, was placed on the square in 1841.
Built for military reasons in the 19th century, the canal ended up being a major boost for the modernisation of agriculture in central Brittany, allowing it to import manure and to export cereals. Given up in favour of the train, it is now closed to navigation after being split by the Guerledan dam (see stage 4). It is now a haven for anglers and rowers.
Restored in 1746 and 1926, it was built on the site of the old collegial church St Tremeur. It was an old priory ordered by viscount Tanguy de Poher and attached to the St Sauveur abbey in Redon. The nave comprises four spans and a transept whose aisles gently stick out. The arcades and the high windows of the nave date from the 16th century. The porch-tower was built in 1575. The church holds the relics of St Herbot and St Quijau.
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.
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.
Easter Island in the middle of Brittany….The comparison is tempting when you discover the Valley of Saints in Carnoet. The gigantic project, launched two years ago, aims at building, on an ancient medieval mound, some 1,000 statues of the founding saints of Brittany. Three metres tall, they represent St Gildas, St Herbot, St Hern, Ste Anne, St Patrick, Sandig Du and many others. All the saints, coming mainly from Cornwall and Wales in the 5th and 6th century are an integral part of Breton culture. Twelve saints are currently visible on the site. www.lavalleedessaints.com.
For more than a century, Callac has been known for its breeding of spaniels, one of the most renowned gun dogs in the world. A museum of the Breton spaniel is dedicated to the breed and turned Callac into the spaniel capital. Objects, drawings, paintings, photographs and films tell the story of a breed whose origins lie in the region of Argoat.
The breeding of workhorses was also a major activity in the area until de 1950s. The many owners and breeders in the sector made the area a stronghold of the horse in Brittany. The tradition is maintained by a yearly horse show in Bulat Pestivine , dating back to 1747 and several other horse festivals. A proud sample of the tradition was a horse named Naous, a locally bred stallion who served bravely for 18 years in the National horse farm. His statue stands near the town-hall.
The Pierre Le Bigaut race
The Pierre Le Bigaut association against cystic fibrosis was created in 1992 by parents of children affected by the disease. To raise funds, the association created an amateur cycling race, the Pierre Le Bigaut, the revenues of which provide a third of the money invested in research on the disease in France. Pierre Le Bigaut was a former professional rider, winner of a Tour stage in 1983.
The Beffour forest
Now greatly appreciated by trekkers, the Beffou forest his one of Cotes d’Armor major forests. In the 17th century, its wood was used to feed the furnaces of metal works in the area before providing wood for sleepers on the Paris to Brest railway. From 1877, the wood was also used to make clogs. Scarred in 1987 by a hurricane, the forest has been replanted since and still produces quality timber. The forest is also an ideal pace for family strolls: several footpaths and an arboretum describing more than 50 species have been created.
Created in 1984 and labelled in 1996, the Centre Forêt-Bocage sits in the very heart of the Argoat region, in La Chapelle Neuve. Between farmland, forest and valleys, it is ideally located to discover the local wildlife with deer, boars, squirrels and woodpeckers.
St Envel church
Who would believe that a tiny village like Loc Envel (Pop 80) could hold such a trasure? Built by Benedictine monks from St Jacut de la Mer in the 16th century , the church is typical of the Gothic style. The inside of the monument retained its original setting, most notably a splendid vault and strange animal statues. It also houses a splendid jube, a decorated gallery combining three styles: Gothic, Louis XII and Renaissance.
The Leguer river crossing the Gurunhuel village flows over 59 kms from Bulat-Pestivien to the Lannion bay. It is famous for its salmon and trout and has been dubbed a haven for fly-fishing. Other species thrive in the Leguer like the otter, who can be easily observed here, a proof that the river water is sound and well preserved. Bats and especially barbastella are also common in the area.
Guingamp developed in the 11th century under the Avaugour lords who turned the town into a fortified site. The city grew around the castle and attracted many tradesmen, among them tailors and tanners. Plundered during the wars of Succession and the conflicts between Brittany and France, Guingamp continued to develop several trades like timber, grain, textile and wine. In the 17th century, it became one of the most populated towns in the department. It keeps many remains of its past like the Notre Dame du Bon Secours basilica, the remains of the castle and walls or the central square with its 15th century houses. Other interesting sites include the 15th century La Plomee fountain, or the old convent garden, which holds the last music kiosk in Cotes d’Armor.
The old prison, built between 1834 and 1840 is also an architectural landmark as the first prison designed with a humanist vision.
Every summer, Guingamp keeps the Breton culture alive thanks to two major events. Held on July 3 this year, Bugale Breizh (children of Brittany) brings together a thousand children in traditional costumes coming from Celtic circles from all over Brittany. They march around the city to the sound of traditional songs and dance.
In August, the Festival de la danse bretonneet de la Saint-Loup attracts more than 2,000 bagpipe players, dancers and artists from all Celtic lands.
En Avant Guingamp and Roudourou stadium
Winners of the French Cup in 2009 and the pride of the city, En Avant Guingamp is a famous soccer club whose Roudourou stadium has a capacity of 18,000 while the town population is only 7,000.
The gardens of Villa Kernetra
The garden, abandoned for many years, reopened in 2010. Founded in the early 20th century, it retained two rows of 180 plane trees, some oaks and lawns lined with wide alleys. Devastated by the 1987 storm, it was redesigned by its current owner, inspired by themes of old myths and legends.
Stretching over 14 kms, the Ploha cliffs are the highest in Brittany. At their highest point, the Pointe de Plouha, they top at 104 metres above sea level. Here rocky capes, coves and beaches follow one another in succession. The charming Paulus beach is one of the most picturesque in the area. The cliffs provide an ideal viewpoint over the St Brieuc bay. The wildlife is also especially rich and it is a nesting area for many birds.
The Gwin Zegal harbour
The small harbour of Gwin Zegal is an oddity – the site is scattered with some fifty wood beams sticking out of the water. It used to be a form of anchoring common in the 5th century and introduced by Irish monks, which has survived to this day. The trunks were stuck in the sand with their roots and blocked by stones. Fishermen still use the stakes to anchor their boats with ropes and chains.
Plouha, stronghold of the French Resistance
Plouha was during WWII a stronghold of the French Resistance. Many locals, familiar with the cliffs, joined the Shelbum network helping Allied airmen shot down by enemy fire to cross the Channel over to Britain. British pilots, housed in several homes in the area, would gather before boarding in the house of Jean Gicquel and a message on the BBC would go: “Hello everybody in Alphonse’s house.” The boarding took place from the Cochat cove beach, known under its code name of Bonaparte.
In all, 135 pilots and 15 agents were taken back to Britain through the network. A monument was raised on the site of Alphonse’s house, which was brought down by the Germans.
The hinterland chapel shelters a macabre fresco dating from the 15th century. Lost under later paint layers, it was rediscovered in 1856 and shows a danse macabre involving skeletons and local celebrities holding hands. Such frescos are now rare as only seven similar paintings remain in France.
The St Quay Islands
Only accessible at low tide, 1.8 kms off the coast, the St Quay islands are one of the most renowned sites for fishing and angling in the Cotes d’Armor. The small archipelago is scattered with rifts in which lobsters, crabs, shrimps and clams find refuge. Its also a haven for divers.
The very name of St Quay-Portrieux tells the history of the small town, evangelised by Welsh hermit St Ke in the 5th century. First set in the area of Kertugal, it moved towards the Portrieux cove from which the first ship left for Newfoundland. In the 19th century, St Quay-Portireux grew around
Its casino and became a seaside resort. The city nowadays attracts thousands of holidaymakers thanks to its five beaches. But the town remains a port and is even the main deep-water harbour in Brittany.
The scallop, treasure of the St Brieuc bay
St Quay Portrieuc is one of the main shellfish ports in Brittany. Dredgers drew more than 2.5 tons of scallop in 2010 from the waters of the bay, which is one the richest site for scallops in France. From November to April, the ballet of dredgers is a fascinating yet short spectacle as each ship is only allowed to fish for 45 minutes a day. Scallop is a preserved species and strict rules must be obeyed. The scallops must be more than 10.2 cm long while the ship must not exceed 13 metres. The nets must be two meters wide at maximum. The quotas are determined each year before the season starts on the basis of observations on the available stock. Scallop is major industry in the Cotes d’Armor department with 250 ship and nearly 1,000 jobs.
The yachting centre is ready for the Games
St Quay’s training centre for competitive skippers has become a major pole for yachting and sailing at national and international level. The centre trained champions like Yann Elies, Claire Leroy or Julie Bossard. It specialises in match racing and will welcome several foreign teams in their preparation for the 2012 London Olympics.
With its 6 km-long coastline flanked by cliffs and its steep valleys, Pordic has become a favourite for trekkers and hikers but also recently for cyclists. The town is th starting point of a new 25-kms Veloroute leaing to Hillion across the Parfond du Gouet viaduct, built by local engineer Harel de la Noe. The section is part of a more ambitious plan to create a 252-kms cycling path along the Cotes d’Armor coasts by 2013.
Open in 2001, it hosts national and international competitions, including floodlit events.
Founded in 485, St Brieuc is one of the oldest towns in Brittany. In its long history, it developed a rich architectural heritage: Notre-Dame de la Fontaine chapel, Louis-Guilloux square with its wooden houses, promenade gardens on the ancient fortifications.
The town’s emblematic monument is the St Etienne cathedral, around which the town developed. Built between the 13th and the 18th century, it stands on marshlands, its foundations resting on wood stakes. It hosts relics of the St Brieuc himself, dating from the 6th century. With 260,000 tons of goods every year, the St Brieuc-Le Légué port is the most important in the department. A fishing, commercial and yachting harbour, it provides 200 spots in water and 140 spots on dry land for yachts as well as a shipyard. The port area, renovated in recent years with the creation of the Rohannec’h park, is now a sought-after residential area.
St Brieuc-Ploufragan technopolis and Zoopole
The technopole of St Brieuc Ploufragan concentrates several fields of expertise and skills in several state-of-the-art domains such as food processing, automobile and education. It is notably home to a innovative Zoopole, a centre specialised in animal health and breeding, as well as biotechnologies, food safety, nutrition and environment. More than 50 organisations and companies employ more than 800 people on a working area of 50 ha. Another complex hosts 20,000 m2 of laboratories specialised in the research in biotechnologies.
Another site, the Véhipole, works on the car of the future while the Batipole is dedicated to research on building and architecture.
St Brieuc held 11 Tour de France stages including the Grand Start in 1995. Jacky Durand surprised even himself by winning the prologue while favourite Chris Boardman crashed and was forced out on the first day.
Tour de France cognoscenti all know that Yffinicac is the birthplace of five times Tour champion Bernard Hinault. He hopefully will not mind our reminding that he was born here on November 14, 1954 and that he won his first race 40 years ago in Planguenoual, a town 12 kms further down our route.
The St Brieuc bay natural reserve
Hillion lies on the outskirts of the St Bieuc Bay natural reserve. Here, the sea sometimes withdraws by more than 7 kms, leaving the way to 1,000 ha of natural environment with a peculiar wildlife. The area, mainly consisting of slit, is home to more than 40,000 migratory birds from the North of Europe, from Siberia and Greenland. Thousands of geese spent the winter in the mild Breton climate. La Maison de la Baie is the place to discover these species.
The Morieux bay is now the second mussel port in Brittany and the fourth at national level with an annual production of some 4,000 tons of mussels accounting for 10 pc of the overall French production. The Morieux cove is noted for producing both wild and bedded mussels. The mussel farmers either deposit mussel spats on the shell beds or wait for the “wild” mussels to settle on them. They stay in the water for 12 to 18 months before being collected. In all, the Morieux cove has 95.5-kms of shell beds.
The charming seaside resort of Pleneuf-Val André was created at the end of the 19th century. In 1880, the first villas started to appear along the 2.5-kms long beach and the town later spread towards the Murs Blancs area Today, the town welcomes more than 10,000 holiday makers, attracted by the wind-free sandy beach and the pleasant seaside walk. The Verdelet site, a natural birds reserve is another asset.
Yachtsmen are at home in the lovely Darhoet port, offering more than 500 anchoring spots. In the past, fishermen left from Darhoet heading for Newfoundland or Iceland.
The port of Erquy went through a spectacular growth in recent years, unloading 11,000 tons of fish against 4,500 in 1995. A new bigger port was inaugurated in April.
The Erquy Cape
The Erquy cape is a preserved site, mixture of moors, hills and sandstone cliffs. Sandstone was exploited until the mid-19th century.
Inside a park of 68 ha, the splendid castle, built in Erquy sandstone, was constructed between the 15th and 19th centuries. It is a perfect example of a manorial house with a medieval and a Renaissance part. The house, the chapel, the ditches, the walls and the park are open to visits.
One million visitors each year. The figure speaks for itself: Cape Frehel is undoubtedly one of the most spectacular landscapes in Brittany. Its wild and preserved nature is probably the main reasons for its lasting appeal. Its cliffs, small coves and long sandy beaches also make it an exceptional site, swept by an emerald sea and awaken by a rich variety of wildlife. Here, everything is constantly in motion. Each season, each moment sheds a new light on the site and reveals a new beauty. From the cape, the eye travels eastward towards the St Brieuc bay, Brehat, the Chausey islands, Pointe du Groin, St Malo and Grandville.
The popular cape is under pressure from its very visitors. Its tip and its coastline have been seriously altered by erosion. To protect the site, an ambitious restoration and preservation programme is underway.
According to legend, the land of Plevenon, with its two wonders, Cape Frehel and the La Latte castle, is also the birthplace of Gargantua, a mythical giant of the Breton coasts. Born from two dwarves and blessed by a fairy, he weighed 100 kilos at the age of six months and is said to have left a finger standing upright on the moor leading to the La Latte fort. It is now a menhir. Gargantua also created the cape itself – irked by a stone in his clog, he threw it away on the shore, creating a pile of rocks, which became one of the most beautiful. He left his two clogs on the shore, allowing the locals to chop them down and use them as firewood to heat their houses for 30 years.
As far as cycling is concerned, Cape Frehel first honoured the ladies, by hosting a stage of the women’s Tour of Brittany in 2005, won by Russian mountain bike specialist Elena Babikova Gogoleva. The men’s Tour of Brittany followed suit in 2008 and revealed young Dutchman Lars Boom, who also won the Tour itself. The under-23 time trial world champion and cyclo-cross world champion, Boom since won a Vuelt stage in 2009 and the Paris-Nice prologue in 2010. This year, he also won the prologue of the Tour of Qatar.
|16th century||Construction of the La Latte castle by the Goyon-Matignon.|
|1695||Construction of a first tower ordered by St Malo ship-owners.|
|1702||Construction of the Vauban tower.|
|1836||Construction of a new lighthouse, electrified in 1886 and destroyed by the Germans in 1944.|
|1920s||Creation of the climatic resort of Sables d'Or les Pins by Roland Brouard.|
|1950||Construction of the current lighthouse.|
Built from 1340 by the wealthy Gouyon-Matignon family, the castle, first called Roche Gouyon, was refurbished in the 17th and restored in the early 20th century. It retained its medieval aspect on a spectacular setting. Buit in granite and sandstone, the fort was an important strategic. spot close to the commercial ways linking St Malo, Normandy and the Anglo-Norman islands. Overlooking the sea at 60 metres high, the fort is separated from the land by two ditches crossed by drawbridges. From the walkway, the sight is gorgeous on the whole of the Emerald Coast. The castle was used as a décor for several films including The Vikings whith Kirk Douglas and Tony Curtis.
Cape Frehel is the largest area of seaside moors in France. The cliffs are covered by a specific vegetation, resisting the assaults of the wind and the sea. The moor consists in heather, lichen, gorse bush and even carnivorous sundews. The cape is home to numerous seabirds: seagulls, cormorants, guillemots, penguins.
At the very heart of the cliff, sandstoe quarries strech over thrre or four kilometres and can reach 35 metres in height. Their expoitation started in 1886. Originally the stone was essentially used for cobbles and tarmac. More recently and until the 1990s, the Frehel quarries moved with time and the new demands of technology. They are now specialised in the production of sophisticated material for road layers. Some Paris-Roubaix cobbles were produced in the quarries.
Its history was an eventful one. The very first fire, installed in 1650, was replaced half a century later by a new building conceived by Simon Garangeau, a Vauban pupil. It became a tower of pink sandstone topped by a headlight fuelled by coal in the winter and by candles in the summer. At the time, it showed the way to ship entering and leaving the St Malo harbour. Later in 1847, a third lighthouse was built, equipped with Fresnel lenses. It was destroyed by the Germans in 1944. The old Vauban lighthouse returned to service and was replaced by the current lighthouse in 1950. It stands 103 metres above sea level.
GR footpath 34 is one of the highlights of tourism Brittany. First used by custom officers, it has been known for centuries. It goes along the whole of the Breton coastline from the Mont St Michel to Arzal.
During this stage, the peloton will ride close to the granite quarries of Plomanac’h, which produces a lovely pink ornamental stone. Often used in the construction of funeral monuments, the granite was also used to build the huge Cross of Lorraine honouring Charles de Gaulle in Colombey les Deux Eglises From Guingamp, the riders will ride on ancient volcanic terrain, more than 600 million years old, which formed a volcanic chain similar to the Andes.