- The race 2011
- All about the race
The town hall© Christian Genot
• Stage town on 7 previous occasions
• 30, 000 inhabitants
• Prefecture of Cantal (15)
While it is known that Aurillac got its name from the word Aureliacum, from the Roman house of Aurelius, during the Gallo-Roman era, the history of the city really goes way back to 885AD, when it was built by Count Géraud. A market town on the doorstep of the Midi, Aurillac remains a town of trade and commerce. While dominated by the craft industry for so long, and home to clog makers, goldsmiths, tanners and copperware manufacturers, it was then taken over by the umbrella-making industry, for which the town has become famous. Today the local economy is characterised by a dynamic network of smaller businesses, covering the farm produce, plastics and communications industries. Aurillac is also often falsely accused of being one of France’s coldest places, but in fact it enjoys an average of 2,000 hours of sunshine a year, making it France 21st sunniest town.
Situated in the heart of a perfect area for sport and recreation, it is home to two of the world’s biggest cultural events: the Européennes du Goût food festival and the International Festival of Street Theatre.
The prefecture of Cantal is also the historical capital of the umbrella manufacturing industry, but in general the Tour’s cyclists have reached the town without any hitches during the last six stage finishes which have taken place there. Luis Leon Sanchez still has an exceptional memory of the last one, where he won his first stage of the Tour de France in 2008, having left all of his rivals behind in a descent, by using one of his favourite victory tactics. Bradley Wiggins is also a leading figure in Aurillac, since he won a stage of the Tour de l’Avenir there in 2005.
Jean Jaurès park© Mairie de Carmaux
• Stage town for the first time
• 10, 400 inhabitants
• Cantonal subdivision of Tarn (81)
Carmaux was built on a large deposit of coal, where the three rivers – the Cérou, the Céroc and the Candou – meet, and at the crossroad of Ségala, the Pays Albigeois and the Pays Cordais. The town’s mining industry was later joined by a glass-making industry, for a long period making Carmaux a politically charged area of union unrest.
Today, the town has is enjoying a new period of expansion, which includes ambitious projects such as the restructuring of the town centre and the pilot project to replace the roof of the Jean-Jaurès school with one made of solar panels. It is a dynamic town, with more than 80 clubs and societies, and hosts events and festivals all year round, including the Grandes Fêtes de la Saint-Privat, the A Fleur de Peau festival, celebrating world music, and the Biennale des Verriers, held every two years at the town’s glass museum. Carmaux has also been twinned with Neckarsulm in Germany for more than 50 years, while in 2010 it was also twinned with the Italian town of Porcari.
The commune of Tarn played a decisive role in the history of France: it was after the major miners’ strike in 1892 that Jean Jaurès was able to win the seat as the deputy of Carmaux, his first term of office as a Socialist Activist. Now all the town has to do is to crown a renowned cycling champion for its first appearance on the programme of the Tour de France. For the moment only the Tour de l’Avenir has stopped there.