The collegiate church has stood as a symbol of Mantes-la-Jolie for over 800 years.© City of Mantes-la-Jolie
At the heart of an urban area totalling over 100,000 inhabitants, Mantes-la-Jolie is the third city in the Yvelines. The gateway to the French Vexin Regional Natural Park, and bordered by a green belt ideal for cycling, the town acts as a hub between Paris and Rouen and is preparing to welcome the RER E regional train line in 2020, as well as the high speed line from Paris to Le Havre. The origin of the royal city’s name lies, according to legend, from a letter sent by King Henry IV to his mistress Gabrielle d’Estrées, who lived at Mantes, in which he wrote "I am at Mantes, my pretty one...". Numerous traces of its glorious past remain, such as the Collegiate Church of Notre Dame (12th century), the little sister of Notre Dame de Paris. The momentum the area has shown in recent years is reflected in many large-scale projects. The aquatic centre – opened in 2011 – thus marks a key milestone in the drive to restore the region’s beauty that has today borne ample fruit.
Festival of the Loire 2011© City of Orléans
Orléans is both a beautiful and vibrant city, reflected in the waters of the Loire and a major regional capital with an urban area of 400,000 inhabitants. The gateway to the châteaux of the Loire, it was long the favourite of the kings. And it is clear why. Orléans, located in the Loire Valley, has been honoured with the label "City of Art and History" and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It has won awards for the rehabilitation of its historic centre. A city that loves to receive and put together major events, including the Festival of Joan of Arc, liberator of the city, the Loire Festival, Europe’s largest river-based gathering, the Orléans Tennis Open, the Figure Skating Masters and the Fencing World Cup. Sustainable development is also of paramount importance and is celebrated here in June. Orléans is delighted to be hosting a stage of the Paris-Nice for the fifth time.