On the road
The production of champagne in the areas of Reims and Epernay has made the Marne department famous worldwide. Thanks to the sparkling wine, Marne tops France’s food and beverage exports. Industry is varied as well – metal works, chemistry, mechanics and electronics. Gothic art thrived in the area from an early period and the cathedral of Reims remains one of the most beautiful monuments in France.
Meuse is the western part of the old Lorraine province. The border department paid a heavy price to wars. It was one of the main battlefields of the First World War, especially in Verdun in 1916. After the war, the damage was so heavy that 20,000 ha of land were considered war zones.
In a 500 km radius, seven capitals are within reach from Meuse: Paris, London, Brussels, Luxembourg, Berlin and Amsterdam. For once, the expression “heart of Europe” is amply deserved.
The typical hillsides of the region are ideally suited for orchards, and especially mirabelles. The other side of the hill is mainly planted with cereals. New energies and tourism are the keys to the department’s future growth.
Unlike most French departments created in 1790 by the French Revolution, Meurthe-et-Moselle saw the light of day in 1871 after the Franco-Prussian war. The circumstances of its creation account for its peculiar shape as a long (200 km) and narrow stretch of land. As a result, it is also a very varied territory, marked by the steel industry in the North, close to the Belgian and Luxembourg borders, by rural lands in the centre and a vast and modern urban area around Nancy while Luneville and its region are more open to culture and tourism.
War played a major part in the history of Meurthe-et-Moselle from the Thirty Years War (1618 to 1648) to the 1870 conflict. The region’s golden era was in the 18th century when princes Leopold and Stanislas Leszczinski held court in Nancy and Luneville. While steel dominated the department’s economy for more than a century, research and high technology around the university of Nancy are taking it into a new era.
Created in 1790, the Moselle department disappeared in 1871 with the annexation of the Eastern part of Lorraine by Germany after the Treaty of Frankfurt. The department of Meurthe-and-Moselle was then created with the remaining cantons. Reintegrated into France in 1918, the annexed part became German again during WWII and was liberated in 1945. A border area, often plagued by wars, the region remained poorly populated until iron turned it into a major industrial area in the 19th century. It is now restructuring and turning towards new technologies and innovative materials.
Km 17.5 : Vraux
The small town of Vraux hosted a RAF base during WWII. A museum retraces the rich hours of the air force in the period.
Comme la Bourgogne, la région Champagne-Ardenne est avant tout connue pour sa plus célèbre production, le vin blanc pétillant le plus fameux de la planète. 350 millions de bouteilles du précieux breuvage sont ainsi produites chaque année, même si la zone de production dépasse la seule région administrative puisque du champagne est produit dans l'Aisne et la Seine-et-Marne.
Vin des rois, le champagne rappelle la longue histoire de la région et notamment de Reims, où furent couronnés les rois de France de Clovis à Charles X.
Le champagne est la plus prestigieuse des productions d'une région essentiellement agricole, dont 61,4% du territoire sont consacrés à cette activité. L'orge, la luzerne, la betterave industrielle et les oignons sont aussi quelques-uns des points forts de l'agriculture locale.
La métallurgie à Reims et le textile à Troyes furent longtemps les piliers industriels de la région, qui subit les effets démographiques de la crise en perdant ses habitants depuis 25 ans. Avec un peu plus de 1,3 millions d'habitants, Champagne-Ardenne est une des régions les moins densément peuplées de France.
Jersey wearers after the stage 9
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