- The Race 2010
- All about the race
Created in 1994 by the Community of communes of Dinan and the Fontaine des Eaux high school, Pole Cristal is a state of the art technical centre devoted to the technologies of cold and air conditioning. The complex bids to advise and help constructors, installers and consumers of refrigerating equipment through research. It is also destined to provide technical and legal assistance to regional projects. Pole Cristal is especially useful to help businesses using cold professionally like food processing companies. One of the most innovative projects initiated by Pole Cristal is called Froiloc: the idea is to maintain a cold and decontaminated area inside a compound without isolating it from the rest of the building, a sort of open space cold chamber.
Bertrand Du Guesclin is honoured by a statue in Dinan for he first made a name for himself on the banks of the Rance river. The eldest son of a noble Breton family, raised in the Motte-Brons Castle near Dinan, he was not destined to glory. As a boy, he was ugly and brutal and his mother favoured his brothers while his father was reluctant to teach him the arts of war. Bertrand became self-taught. During a tournament in Rennes in which he was at first not allowed to take part, he beat all his opponents before refusing to confront his father. He was 15.
His courage became obvious in the war of succession between Charles of Blois and John of Montfort for the Duchy of Brittany. Sizing with Charles de Blois camp, he started harassing the English in the Paimpont forest and around, earning his nickname: the Black Dog of Broceliande.
At the service of King John the Good, he attacked and ransomed. The Hundred Years War had just started and Du Guesclin invented a new kind of warfare today known as guerilla.
At 37 he was knighted and became lord of La Motte-Broons. He was no longer a romantic figure but still threatened the English by his very reputation, which helped future king Charles V, who reigned while his father was detained in England. The English demanded a ransom and accused Du Guesclin of high treason. To try and ruin his reputation, they asked for a tournament to be held in Dinan on the market square. Du Guesclin beat several English knights when he found himself against the best of them, Thomas of Canterbury. On the first assault, Du Guesclin fell off his horse. Canterbury charged but his opponent threw him off the saddle, removed his helmet and started punching his rival to defeat.
Dinan is the birthplace of Edwige Pitel, a multiple French cycling champion, but the town’s cycling history is much older. Between 1927 and 1931, the Tour de France stopped every year in the lovely port by the Rance river.
The 1931 stage finish was an important day in the history of the Tour and in that of Austrian cycling, which won its first Tour stage thanks to the country’s most famous rider: Max Bulla. The gifted sprinter had been Austrian champion in 1926 and 1927 but he was little known away from home. At the end of the 212 kms stage from Caen, Bulla became not only the fist Austrian stage winner but also the first to hold the yellow jersey. Bulla’s performance was all the more impressive as he did not belong to a national team and was the only “independent” rider ever to lead the Tour. Bulla lost the jersey the next day to Frances’s Leon Le Calvez but won two more stages that year. Two Vuelta stages, a Zurich Grand Prix and a Tour of Switzerland complete the man’s record.
The last visit to Dinan by the Tour was in 1995 for the start of a stage to Lannion, won by Fabio Baldato. In the meantime, cyclists kept coming to Dinan for the Ruban Granitier Breton and The Tour of Brittany, which often finishes in town.
Dinan is also the hometown of former junior world champion Arnaud Gerard and former Vuelta leader Christian Levavasseur.
|9th century||Monks decide to settle at the foot of a hill by the river Rance, close to an old Roman world and a Roman castrum.|
|11th century||A Benedictine priory is built and the town grows.|
|12th century||Dinan is surrounded by walls probably built after the destruction of the wood enclosure by William of Normandy in 1065. The event is part of the Bayeux tapestry.|
|1283||Under John 1, Dinan become a ducal town and builds its first walls on the plateau.|
|1357||The town, defended by Bertrand du Guesclin, resists a siege by the English army. During the siege, Du Guesclin beats Thomas of Canterbury in single combat.|
|18th century||The wealthy population of Dinan builds luxury townhouses and mansions. The town is more elegant than ever.|
It is actually the oval keep of Duchess Ann, installed near the St Louis Gate. It was built in 1364 by order of John IV, Duke of Brittany. The keep and the gate belong to the 2.6-kms length of walls still surrounding the old town. Its characteristic machicolation stand 30 metres high above cut stone walls.
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.
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.
The history of Dol started in the 6th century when a Welsh colony led by St Samson settled on the spot and built a monastery which became a bishop see in 555. From the 9th century, the village was attacked by Normans but the prestige of St Samson increased after the coronation of King Nominoe while Dol became home to an archbishop. For three century, Dol remained Brittany religious capital and a rival of the Frenck city of Tours. Sieges and plunders took place, notably the one led by William the Conqueror in 1064, an event illustrated by the Bayeux tapestry. During the War in the Vendee, Dol was the site of a bloody battle which claimed 15,000 lives. Victor Hugo resided in Dol with his mistress Juliette Drouet. Chateaubriant also spent some time in Dol as a student.
The cathedral is a Gothic building influenced by the English and Norman styles. Modified in the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries, it left one its towers unfinished. While most of the frame is massive, the porches on the south side are extremely elegant. The nave is lit by a rich 12th century glass roof, one of the oldest in Brittany. Other interesting features are the eighty 14th century stalls, the statues and the tomb of bishop Thomas James §16th century).
Champ Dolent menhir
Two kilometres southwest of the cathedral stands the 9.30 metres tall Champ Dolent menhir, which is 8.70 metres wide at his thickest point. According to legend, it was thrown from the sky to separate a father and a son who were engaged in battle. The story refers to the true story of the fighting between King Clotaire 1, king of the Franks, and his son Chramme.
The lovely little town of Pleine-Fougères, known for its peaceful water ponds full of trout, became tragically famous in 1996 when young Britsh tourist Caroline Dickinson was raped and killed in the town’s youth hostel. The long investigation revealed the importance of DNA tests, which cleared a homeless man once seen as the main suspect before confirming the identity of the killer, Francisco Arce Montes, who has sought refuge in the United States. The hole male population of the own accepted to be tested and all were cleared.
Prefecture : Saint-Lô
Subprefectures : Avranches, Cherbourg, Coutances
Population : 497,000
Website : www.manche-tourisme.com
Manche is part of the Basse-Normandie (lower Normandy) region. It includes the Cotentin penisula and is bathed by the Manche (Channel) on the 350 kms of its coastline. Geologically, the department is linked to the Armorican Massif and is above all a land of bocages (farmlands). Manche is the first agricultural departement in France for breeding, fruit and vegetables. Cherbourg-Octeville is an important port (fishing, yachting, French Navy, transport, commerce and shipbuilding). Nuclear industry has taken a major part in the department’s economy. Tourism is also a major asset.
In the middle of the Mont St Michel bay, Pontorson sits on the banks of the Couesnon, and is surrounded by the river, marshlands and polders. The town was founded in the 12th century by William the Conqueror. Bertrand du Guesclin became its lord in 1376. An important fortified hold on the Breton border, the Potorson fortress was destroyed in 1623 by order of King Louis XIII. Several monuments from the same period subsist like the the Notre-Dame church, the Guischard de la Menardiere townhouse or the old St Antoine de la Charité hospital.
Wished by William the Conqueror, it was the work of the same men who built the Mount St Michel. Its style shifts from the 11th century Romanesque to the early 15th century Gothic and it stands out in its environment by it massive structure and its porch flanked by two towers and their statues.
Alligator Bay and its alligator house, its turtle farm and its dragon labyrinth is an animal theme park unique in Europe.
“Wonder of the Western world”, the Mount St Michel stands in the middle of an immense bay flooded by the biggest tides in Europe. Aubert, bishop of Avranches, built a first house in 709 on request by Archangel Michael, the head of the heavenly militias. In 966, by demand of the Duke of Normandy, a Benedictine community settled on the rock. The pre-Romanesque church was erected before the year 1000.
In the 11th century, the Romanesque abbatial church was founded on top of crypts at the tip of the rock and was soon flanked by a convent, which was enlarged in the following century. In the 13th century, a donation by King Philip II Augustus of France after his conquest of Normandy made it possible to build the Gothic ensemble of La Merveille: two three-floor buildings topped by the cloister and the refectory.
In the 14th and 15th centuries, the Hundred Years War made it necessary to protect the abbey and the site was fortified, holding a 30-years siege. The Romanesque chancel collapsed in 1421 to be replaced by the Gothic chancel.
This important spiritual and intellectual centre was with Rome and Santiago de Compostella one of the major pilgrimages of the Middle Ages. For nearly 1,000 years, men, women and children came to the Mount by routes known as Heaven’s Way to receive the blessing of Archangel Michael.
Turned into a state prison during the French Revolution, the abbey received much needed restoration in the late 19th century under the helm of the Monuments Historiques.
In 1966, for the centenary of the first abbey, monks returned to the old abbatial lodgings.
Around the abbey, a village developed from the Middle Ages and thrived on the south-western side of the rock, protected by walls dating for the most part from the Hundred Years War.
Listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage site, it receives more than three million visitors each year. In 1990, a Tour stage ended at the Mont St Michel and was won by Belgium’s Johan Museeuw.
The town is named after its bridge, which played a major part in the decisive move by the American army in the Second World War known as the Avranches breakthrough. On July 30, 1944, the 6th armoured division freed Avranches, which had been evacuated by the Germans. The way to Britanny was open. The powerful 3rd Army led by General Patton entered the battlefield. The vanguard seized an intact bridge on the Selune river in Pontaubault. The Germans launched several counter-attacks but the last of them, by a Kampfgruppe led by lieutenant-colonel Bacherer , failed. On July 31, Patton decided to send most of his troops to cross the bridge in an endless procession heading for Brittany and the Loire valley.
Subprefecture of the Manche department, Avranches is first of all an administrative centre housing two courts and ruling over a mainly rural area. Sheep breeding on the shores of the Mont St Michel are a traditional activity while cow and horse breeding are frequent in the hinterland. The mild climate also favours market garden produces.
In the 9th century BC, the region was held by Celts, the Abrincates (Aber people) who gave their name to their settlement. In their age and in Roman times, the town became a busy little city and housed a bishop see. For more than a thousand years, the bishops ruled over the city. One of them , St Aubert, founded a sanctuary on the Mount Tombe in 708 which would become one of the most famous religious sites on Earth.
The Norman domination from 933 turned the Avranches into a powerful citadel.
Hugh the Wolf, companion of William the Conqueror and viscount of Avranches, later became the first Earl of Chester. When Normandy was conquered by France in 1204, Avranches became a royal city by order of King St Louis who often resided in the “good town” which he fortified. During the Wars of Religion, Avranches took side with the Catholic League and refused to acknowledge Henry IV as King of France.
In the 19th century, the Bonaparte’s wars gave the town a local heros, Roger Valhubert, killed by a cannonball at the battle of Austerlitz. The Tour de France stopped in Avranches three times. For a start in 1990, a team time-trail in 1993 and a stage won by Bradley McGee in 2002.
It was probably built at the start of the 11th century by the first count: Robert d’Avranches, the illegitimate son of Duke Richard I. The dungeon was split in 1848 by a street and what remaine dof it collapsed in 1883. A portion with a tower remains and is often mistaken for the original dungeon itself.
Pays homage to the American general and the 3rd Army.
A small green resort on the banks of the See river, Brecy is noted for its salmon and its mills, most of which have disappeared today. A few buildings stand out from the rest of the houses, like the Chateau du Logis and La Semondiere, both ancient manorial houses. The Vassy castle, built on the site known as Le Logis, is typical of the 17th century Louis XIII style mixing brick, slate and stone -- schist and granite here. It remains a vast building, even though two aisles were lost while the element most worthy of note is the monumental staircase in the main building.
La Semondiere is a little older than Le Logis and probably dates from the late 16th century. The fortified manor-house, surrounded by moans, was the home of Marie-Louise de Brecey, the spouse of Jean de Julienne, famous painting collector and a friend of Watteau.
Prefecture : Caen
Subprefectures : Bayeux, Lisieux, Vire
Population : : 680,000
Website : www.cg14.fr
Calvados has Latin origins and probably means bald back, a reference to its coasts. It lies between two distinct regions, the Parisian basin to the east and the Armorican Massif to the west. The department is renowned for a liquor bearing its names and from the Auge area, producing some of France’s best known cheese: camembert, livarot and Pont l’Eveque. The renowned Norman pastures were always ideal for producing milk and for the dairy sector. Apples are another riches and along with calvados, the region produces cider and pommeau. Industry is based mostly around Caen and has been opting for new technologies to replace a declining steel production. Tourism is a major asset in seafront towns like Deauvile, Cabourg or the picturesque Honfleur. But many tourists from Britain and America also visit the beaches on which Allied forces landed in 1944.
In 1123, Henry I Beauclerc, King of England and Duke of Normandy, built a tower on a rocky hill overlooking the Vire river and surrounded it by walls to protect the Duchy. Outside walls were later added and completed in the 14th century. They correspond to the Gaol, St Sauveur and Moan towers and to the clock gate still visible today. At the end of the Middle Ages, the city became wealthy thanks to tanning and woollen industries. During the Hundred Years War, Vire was plundered and handed to the English in 1418. The occupation was short but brutal. The execution of Hugues Vaux, the town’s leading landowner, who refused to give his wife to an English sergeant, fuelled the population’s ire. Under Louis XIII, like many fortified sites which could have been used by the Huguenots, the castle was dismantled.
In the 19th century, Vire missed industrialisation and a long decline began. The city was almost entirely destroyed by Allied bombing in 1944.
Vire is the birthplace of French rider Thierry Gouvenou, who took part in seven Tours between 1994 et 2001.
Vire is renowned for its andouille, a kind of sausage cooked from pork guts and stomach. The recipe has not changed since the 18th century, using the entire stomach. The andouilles are later smoked for a month at least and boiled for six hours. The andouille’s black colour results from the smoking process.
The Clock Gate was the main entrance to the city in the Middle Ages when Vire was fortified. In the 13th century, it was a simple gate known as Porte Gastinel. Flanked by two towers, it was later topped by an original belfry in the 15th century, in order to be used as a watchtower. The clock and the bell were added in 1499. On the belfry stands a statue of the Virgin Mary and an inscription reading: “Mary protects the city”.
The building was originally a textile mill, fuelled by the brook flowing across the area. The frontispiece is still engraved with symbols reflecting its original purpose like a spinning wheel. After the mill went bankrupt in 1840, the building became an orphanage and a religious congregation.
The town was founded by the Romans. In 1418, it fell under the English rule. It was later used as a base by Francois de Surienne to attack the town of Fougeres in Brittany. The battle marked the end of the Hundred Years War when the town was seized back by King Charles VII, who then conquered the whold Duchy of Normandy.
Conde was one of the first towns with a Protestant majority. In 1674, Protestants held a synod in town. Textile, woollen and linen created some 7,000 jobs at the time. Cutlery is another thriving trade. Around 1860, Conde reached its economic peak with a bustling textile sector and 55 mills. In 1868, growth increased thanks to railway link to Caen. The Second World War was a tragic period as the town was destroyed by bombing which killed 252.
Conde is the birthplace of explorer Dumont d’Urville, who sailed around the globe, explored the Antarctic and discovered the Venus of Milo. He died in 1842 in the first major train crash in France.
The town is home to one of the best-known stud farms in the country, Haras d’Ouilly, founded in the late 19th century and which belonged to industrial tycoon Jean-Luc Lagardere. The famous businessman rests in the local graveyard.
Capital of the Duchy of Normandy in the reign of Robert the Magnificent, it was the birthplace of Wiliiam the Conqueror in 1027 or 1028. William was called the Bastard as his mother Arlette was the daughter of a tanner. Legend tells that Duke Robert spotted her from his castle as she was washing her linen in a fountain known today as Arlette’s fountain. In 1174, the treaty of Falaise was signed with Henry II Plantagenet. The town was seized by King of France Henry IV in 1590 during the Wars of Religion. A fierce battle took place in Falaise in August 1944. The city, already hard hit by Allied bombing in June as part of Operation Overlord, was almost entirely destroyed.
The castle was built in three phases hence three different keeps. The first one is a square tower typical of the Anglo-Norman stule. It was built under Henry I, the first son of William the Conqueror, in the 12th century. It is known as the grand donjon (large keep).
The second keep was probably financed by Henry II Plantagenet. It is known that the King spent the 1159 Christmas in the castle with his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine and their court. It is also a square tower of smaller proportions. It is the petit donjon (small keep). Its position makes it more a living quarter than a defensive building.
The third keep was built in the early 13th century by Philip II Augustus of France when he conquered the Duchy of Normandy. It is a round tower with a defensive vocation built by royal engineers. It is know as the Talbot Tower. Abandoned in the 17th century, it was listed in 1840 and restored by architect Victor Ruprich-Robert.
The town is above all famous for its cheese. It was a dairy farm product appearing in the Middle Ages and was originally pretty similar to camembert and Pont l’Eveque produced in the neighbourhood. The cheeses from lower Normandy were at the time called Angelots and the name was later altered into Augelots to reflect the region in which they are produced, Pays d’Auge.
The cheese finally took the name of the small town of Livarot, near Lisieux, home to one of the biggest cheese markets in the area. The fabrication of the cheese took place in every farm – the fat of the milk was used for butter, the skimmed milk being used for the cheese. As a result livarot is a low-fat cheese, rich in proteins, which can be kept four to six months. Livarot was Normandy’s most famous cheese in the 19th century and was even called the poor man’s steak. Nowadays it is more of a gourmet cheese, and is dubbed the colonel.
Pays d’Auge, with Lisieux as its capital, is a real postcard of Normandy with a preserved environment, with cows, cheese, horses and apple trees, thatched cottages and every cliché associated with the region.
Around Lisieux, rivers dug valleys which are among the most charming landscapes of Normandy.
While the various departments of Normandy tend to become closer, Lisieux is well-placed to become the heart of the region being located within equal distance of the three main Norman cities, Caen, Rouen and Le Havre.
A human sized town, Lisieux can boast equipment usually found in much bigger towns – theatre, library, swimming pool, concert hall, hospital and university – while keeping a preserved environment.
Therese Martin, the daughter of a salesman touched by the holy grace, became one of only three women to have been named a Doctor of the Church by Pople John-Paul II in 1997, 100 years after her death. Deceased at 24, Therese has since been the object of a fervent cult.
The daughter of Louis and Zelie Martin, she lost her mother at the age of four. The young girl was extremely affected by the loss and later said the first part of her life stopped then. Brought up by sisters Marie and Pauline, she was left to her own when both become nuns at the Carmel of Lisieux. Isolated in the family home, she felt abandoned once again and vowed to opt for religion as well. In 1882 she fell ill but was cured by a vision of the Virgin Mary. Her decision was made; she would dedicate her life to God. While her father was sent to mental hospital, she was adopted by her uncle who refused to see her leave for the Carmel, claiming she was too young. But Therese took advantage of a trip to Rome to plead her cause to Pope Leon XIII. She finally entered the convent in 1888, at 15, and was reunited with her sisters.
She then started write her memoirs and plays which she signed as “the little one”. In site of illness, she patroned several missionaries to whch she sent letters and poems. She died of tuberculosis in 1897 after nine years at the Carmel. A year after her death a collection of her writings, Histoire d’une ame (Story of a soul), was published. It became a huge best seller and her cult grew rapidly, attracting thousands of pilgrims to Lisieux. She was beatified, canonises and named patron saint of the missionaries and secondary patron saint of France along with Joan of Arc. Built in he honour, the Lisieux basilica became the second pilgrimage in France after Lourdes. In 1997, she became the youngest of the 33 Doctors of the Church.
In 1986, Therese, a film on her life by Alain Cavalier, received the Cesar for the best French film of the year.
A famous pilgrimage town, Lisieux has hosted the Tour de France three times in the past already. In 1964 and 1970, the stages also came from Brittany and were both won by Belgian sprinters: Edward Sels and Walter Godefroot. The last time the race was in town, in 2006, it was for a start to Vitre and the winner was again a sprinter, Robbie McEwen, the most Belgian of the Australians!
Every year Lisieux holds the first post-Tour criterium on the Tuesday following the finish on the Champs-Elysees. Each year, more than 30,000 spectators gather to see the stars of the Tour. In 2010, the winner was Sylvain Chavanel, winner of two stages in the preceding Tour.
|Antiquity||Lisieux is the capital of the Gaul tribe of Loxovii.|
|1432||Pierre Cauchon, the judge in the trial of Joan of Arc, becomes bishop of Lisieux and builds the chapel bu the cathedral in which he was buried.|
|1801||Lisieux loses its bishope see. It takes it back in 1855, jointly with Bayeux.|
|1907||First taking off by an helicopter piloted by Paul Cornu.|
|1925||Therese of Lisieux is canonised.|
|September 30, 1929||Construction starts for the basilica, which is now home to France’s second pilgrimage after Lourdes.|
|June 6 and 7, 1944||The landing of Allied troops in Normandy is followed by fierce bombing. The town is destroyed at 80 pc and 1,100 civilians are killed.|
|1980||Visit of Pope John-Paul II.|
|2008||Beatification of Louis and Zelie Martin, parents of Sainte-Therese of Lisieux.|
The construction started on September 30, 1929. In November, Pope Pius XI told bishop Suhard that he expected the works to be “grand, beautiful and fast”. It was a huge undertaking , the basilica being one of the biggest churches built in the 20th century. In 1930, more than 200 workers were busy on the site, labouring day and night under four electric cranes.
Total surface: 4500 m²
Length : 104 m
Nave width : 30 m
Transept width : 45 m
Dome height : 97 m
Exterior diameter of the dome : 37 m
Mosaic : 8,000 m²
It is one of the first cathedrals built in Normandy. The cathedral is a meeting point between Romanesque and Gothic traditions with new architectural themes such as flying buttress.
One of the jewels of the Pays d’Auge, in the very heart of Normandy, it is a picturesque construction surrounded by moans. The castle consists in two parts: a timber frame manor from the 15th century and a 16th century building in stone and bricks. Inside can be visited the guards room with well preserved frescos, beautiful furniture and memorabilia from painter Eugene Delacroix and the Riesener family.
It is installed since 1969 in one of the few timber frame houses spared by the 1944 bombings.
When they left Alecon, the Martin family settied in Les Buissonnets in November 1877. Therese lived here from the age of 4 until the age of 15, when she entered the Carmel. The elegant red brick house has become a place of worship.
The peloton rides close to the Mount St Michel, the top of a small 300-millionr-year-old granite intrusion in the middle of the environing landscape. The Tour route later goes through the northern part of the Massif Armorican, the oldest mountain chain in France, now flattened by erosion.
Before Lisieux, the peloton enters the Paris basin, formed by younger rocks from 200 million to 150 million years. It is the Jurassic and dinosaurs are not far. In the region of Lisieux were found remains of sauropods, five metres long herbivorous animals, and theropods, carnivorous monsters who were twice as big.