Caption
  • Leaders
  • Caravan
  • Start town
  • Finish town
  • Feeding zone
  • Checkpoints
  • Sprint
  • Last kilometre
  • Hors catégorie climb
  • Points of interest

On the road

Nord department

The Nord department is a narrow stretch of land along the Belgian border, linking the North Sea to the west to the first mounts of the Ardennes to the east. It is the most densely populated area in France after the Paris region with 2.5 million inhabitants. Nord is a wealthy agricultural area thanks to a sensible use of the land. It is also France’s leading industrial region thanks to its coal resources and its long tradition in steelworks, metal plants and textile factories. The economic crisis has led to the end of coalmining in the area but its inhabitants – the now famous Chtis – have always been the department’s main strength. Nord’s architectural past is exceptionally rich, with extremely well preserved old mills, proud belfries illustrating the freedom of its towns (Lille, Valenciennes, Douai) as well as wealthy town halls of Flemish inspiration.

Pas-de-Calais Department

The department was created in 1790, mixing parts of the old Artois and Boulonnais provinces. Pas de Calais (literally Step of Calais) symbolises the passage between Calais and Dover, France and Britain. The discovery of coal in Oignies in 1841 dramatically changed the departments’ economy, based on the mining industry for most of the 19th and 20th centuries.

While coalmining and textile are disappearing, Pas-de-Calais makes the most of its situation at the crossroads of Britain and France and the presence on its soil of Eurotunnel. Tourism is a resource, on the coastline especially. The port of Calais is one of the biggest passenger ports in the world while Boulogne is the first fishing port in France.

Km 4 : Bouvignies

Bouvignies town hall / OttavianiBlazon of Bouvignies / Groteddy

First ruled by the Landas family, Bouvignies passed in 1384 to the Hollehain, who built the local castle. But the longest serving lords in the town were the Nedonchel, established in 1586. In 1723, the Baron of Nedonchel became Marquis and in 1782, he rebuilt the castle, which was destroyed a few years later by the Revolution. Only remain today parts of the surrounding wall with its loopholes and the main entrance, flanked by two pillars. Another gate, “Porte de Douai”, goes over the moats. The foundations of the castle were rediscovered in 1985 and are now visible in the playground. An old dovecote now houses a museum of pigeon racing. Graves of the Nedonchel family can be found in the lovely 17th century church, especially a stone dedicated to George de Nedoncehl, who died in 1601.

In 1679, Bouvignies saw one of the last executions of witches in France, four women who  were sentenced to the pyre. 

Région Nord-Pas-de-Calais

Préfecture : Lille

Terre-frontière riche d'abondantes ressources, tiraillée entre Saint-Empire Romain Germanique et France, le Nord-Pas de Calais fut, jusqu'en 1945, le terrain de toutes les invasions. Des conditions qui formèrent un peuple industrieux, dur à la tâche, fier de sa puissance et de ses résistances mais ouvert à tous les échanges et au meilleur de toutes les cultures. Une fierté marquée par les beffrois, gigantesques aiguilles de pierres et de briques dressées face aux puissants de ce monde, dominant les villes et inscrits au Patrimoine mondial de l'Humanité par l'Unesco. Cet esprit de résistance s'exprime toujours sur les remparts et les ports fortifiés, dans les treize citadelles du Pré Carré de Vauban, dans les églises fortifiées de Thiérache et jusque sur les immenses champs de batailles de 14/18 et dans les gigantesques blockhaus de la Seconde Guerre Mondiale. La diversité éclate en censes (Censes : fermes) flamandes et picardes, en austères mais riches hallekerques (hallekerques : églises massives à 4 nefs) du Westoeck et sur les immenses places pavées bordées d'immeubles où s'affrontent Renaissance flamande colorée et rigueur à la française du Beau Siècle. Trente musées des Beaux Arts témoignent aujourd'hui de l'abondance des genres régionaux par leurs collections prestigieuses et les oeuvres d'artistes locaux qui ne le sont pas moins : Rubens, Matisse, Carpeaux, Pignon, Mathieu, De Marle... Une centaine d'autres racontent la vie, les guerres, les fêtes, le travail sur les lieux même de leur histoire… Des sites de mémoire que rejoignent cent cinquante entreprises industrielles et artisanales ouvertes à la visite pour raconter l'Histoire, laborieuse, qui s'écrit au quotidien.

Jersey wearers after the stage 5

Classifications after the stage 5

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