© B.D. – City of Compiègne//The starting point for the Paris-Roubaix race on the forecourt of the place du Palais
Compiègne, a city of sports-lovers, at the crossroads of modernity and history
In Compiègne, sport is a passion, as is reflected in Equipe Magazine’s ‘TheSportiest City in France’ title in 2009. The city’s sporting facilities enable over 11,000 members to indulge in a range of sporting activities. The forest of Compiègne extends a standing invitation to all those who want to practice open-air sports to their heart’s content.
Each year, as winter turns to spring, Compiègne enthusiastically dons the mantle of start city for ‘The Queen of the Classics’ – always a chance for a long weekend of festivities. The Saturday sees the Paris-Roublaix Exhibition, organised by the Sports Office, a worthy successor to the ‘Bourse cycliste’ (‘Cycle Exchange’). The exhibits are held in the prestigious Saint-Nicolas halls, the former ‘Hôtel-Dieu’ (main city hospital). In the afternoon, during the presentation of competitors, members of clubs from surrounding areas, both young and old pit their skills in a BMX racing challenge, or marvel at the spectacular dirt-bike jumps. In the evening, a night-race in the city-centre serves as a sneak preview of what lies ahead in the Queen of the Classics.
A dynamic economic hub
Businesses from various economic sectors guarantee regular economic and employment development throughout the area. Compiègne has all the advantages of a genuine economic cluster: an innovative technological university (UTC) coupled with major industrial groups involved in developing intensive research projects. It has thus become a flourishing technopole, the first of its kind in Picardy – the result of a partnership between the city and the UTC – the internationally-renowned university responsible for training tomorrow’s engineers and technicians in biology, chemistry, I.T. and mechanical engineering. Regional development is heavily centred around two global competitive clusters: industry and agro-resources on the one hand and I-trans, the inland transport initiative in which Compiègne is a partner, on the other. In order to facilitate communication, two new traffic routes were opened in 2011: the North-East bypass including a 2000 m long viaduct, and a second bridge in the city centre.
Steeped in history
Time has left its mark on Compiègne. Take a pleasant stroll along its ancient streets and explore the flamboyant Gothic-style town hall. And don’t miss the castle, which once served as a residential palace for the Kings of France and Emperors Napoleon I and Napoleon III. Compiègne has witnessed a number of major historical events, for example the signing of the 1918 Armistice and the Internment and Deportation memorial, inaugurated in 2008 – a moving tribute to the victims of deportation to Nazi concentration camps.
© Arnaud Loubry – Roubaix//The celebrated Musée La Piscine speaks for itself. The Picasso exhibition, which opened last February, has already attracted more than 20,000 visitors.
A finish with a flourish in colourful Roubaix
Over a hundred years after the first event in 1896, Paris-Roubaix competitors continue to display immense courage and self-sacrifice, surpassing themselves on a global stage. For the ‘Hell of the North’ can also lead to paradise… Roubaix boasts so much more than just a finishing line and is well worth exploring.
An unusual, unexpected city of culture… Roubaix has many surprises in store for those prepared to leave their narrow prejudices behind! This city aims to stand out from the crowd and strives to offer its visitors and inhabitants a cosmopolitan lifestyle. The former textile manufacturing town has also built on its historical strengths to create an environment conducive to the tertiary sector: services, an education and research centre, transport networks… Roubaix has a wealth of attractive trump cards up its sleeve!
The world of fashion and Roubaix
Ambitious and visionary, Roubaix is taking on ever more challenges and major projects; in fact the Roubaix of yesteryear would be unrecognisable today. The city takes skilful advantage of its many regional strengths and works particularly hard to forge partnerships between the public and private sectors. The town centre has thus been reenergised with shops, places of cultural interest, and fashion outlets, resulting in a much improved quality of life for its residents. Open to what the world has to offer in terms of technology, Roubaix successfully attracted the textile and image competitive cluster, the Union project, in addition to numerous renowned and lesser-known marketing, communication, and distance selling companies. Its other assets include creativity and entrepreneurial spirit within the world of fashion and textiles – with specific districts of the city dedicated to fashion and designers –and a sense of dynamism and youthful energy, not least thanks to its over 10,000 students and the recently opened EDHEC business school.
A city of art, history and sport
Its industrial heritage is celebrated on a national scale and attracts tourists from all over the world. A city of art and history, Roubaix is also committed to culture for all, with its nationally renowned network of structures and amenities; the museum of art and industry - ‘La Piscine’ (‘The Pool’), the textiles workshop and museum - ‘Manufacture des Flandres (‘Manufacturing in the County of Flanders’), ‘Manufacture Culturelle de la Condition Publique’ (‘Cultural Integration – the Human Condition’) and the ‘Carolyn Carson National Choreography Centre’ in Nord-Pas de Calais.
In the world of sports, the richness and quality of its facilities enable the city to regularly host competitive events at the highest level in a range of disciplines (cycling, fencing, wrestling, five-a-side football…). In addition to its sports halls and pitches, it prides itself on its indoor velodrome, making Roubaix the regional capital of cycling.