Embrun

The hardest triathlon in the world

Since 1984, Embrun has held the Embrunman, which will celebrate its 30th edition on August 15. In three decades, the event has earned its reputation as one of the most gruelling if not the most gruelling triathlons in the world since it lasts two hours more than most other Ironman races.

With 3.8-kilometres of swimming and a nightly start in the waters of the Serre-Poncon lake, 186 km of cycling including the Izoard pass and a real marathon, Embruman is a real test of strength.

Since its creation, it mostly crowned Frenchmen like five times winner Yves Cordier or Spaniards like titleholder Marcel Zamora, a three times winner. The race record is held since 2011 by France's Herve Faure in 9 hours, 34 minutes and ten seconds. In the ladies event, Britain's Bella Comerford left her mark with three victories.

For the 30th edition between August 11 and 15, organisers added new events – a short distance event, a tri sprint, an aquathlon, a duathlon and a "run and bike" allowing every talent to take part in the celebrations.

Web sites

Embrunman - ©Embrunman/Christophe GuiardEmbrunman - ©Embrunman/Christophe GuiardEmbrunman - ©Embrunman/Christophe Guiard
3 previous stages
Chef-lieu de canton of Hautes-Alpes (05)
Population: 6,500
Motto: "The small Nice of the Alps"
Specialities: tourton du Champsaur.
Economy: tourism, agriculture.
Sport: Embrunman (triathlon), Embrun marathon.
Celebrities: Marcellin d'Embrun, Jean Morel (scholar), Clovis Hugues (writer and politician), Eric Boyer (cycling).
Festivals: Regional breeders fair (April), Accordion festival (April), Trad'In Music Festival (July), Medieval festival "In the time of the cathedral builders" (August)
Labels: Ville fleurie (2), Pays d'Art et d'Histoire

Timeline

  • Roman era

    Embrun is the capital of the Cottian Alps
  • 354

    Embrun becomes a bishop see with St Marcellin.
  • 1160

    The count of de Provence and the archbishop share the city.
  • 1170

    Construction of Notre-Dame du Réal cathedral.
  • 1210

    The Dauphin becomes lord of Embrun.
  • 1349

    Embrun is annexed to France.
  • 1510

    Birth of scholar Jean Morel, a close friend of Erasmus and the Pleiad poets.
  • 16th century

    The town is conquered by Lesdiguieres, who makes it his capital.
  • 17th century

    Embrun is fortified by Vauban.
  • 1692

    The town is taken by Victor-Amadeus II of Savoy.
  • 1872

    The citadel is abandoned.
  • 1907

    Clovis Hugues is buried in Embrun.
  • 1955

    Construction of the Serre-Poncon lake.
the main nave, the gothic arches and the Romanesque apse ©Fr.LatreilleVictor-Amedeus II of Savoy, portrait by Maria Giovanna Clementi, 1706.
3 previous stages
Chef-lieu de canton of Hautes-Alpes (05)
Population: 6,500
Motto: "The small Nice of the Alps"
Specialities: tourton du Champsaur.
Economy: tourism, agriculture.
Sport: Embrunman (triathlon), Embrun marathon.
Celebrities: Marcellin d'Embrun, Jean Morel (scholar), Clovis Hugues (writer and politician), Eric Boyer (cycling).
Festivals: Regional breeders fair (April), Accordion festival (April), Trad'In Music Festival (July), Medieval festival "In the time of the cathedral builders" (August)
Labels: Ville fleurie (2), Pays d'Art et d'Histoire

Web sites

Embrun and cycling

A sporting city, Embrun overlooks the artificial lake of Serre-Poncon, one of the largest in Europe, around which gather the best triathlon specialists in the world every summer for the Embrunman. In 2008, after a start in Embrun, Carlos Sastre achieved a great double at l'Alpe d'Huez, winning the stage and seizing the yellow jersey. In that 2008 edition, the town had the privilege to host the starts of two stages. The first one, ending in Prato Nevoso, was won by Australian Simon Gerrans.

In 1973, the riders had made their way towards Nice and Spain's Vicente had won the first of his three stage wins, a yea before finishing on the podium behind Eddy Merckx and Raymon Poulidor.
Embrun is also the hometown of Eric Boyer, fifth in the 1988 Tour and the former manager of French Team Cofidis.

3 previous stages
Chef-lieu de canton of Hautes-Alpes (05)
Population: 6,500
Motto: "The small Nice of the Alps"
Specialities: tourton du Champsaur.
Economy: tourism, agriculture.
Sport: Embrunman (triathlon), Embrun marathon.
Celebrities: Marcellin d'Embrun, Jean Morel (scholar), Clovis Hugues (writer and politician), Eric Boyer (cycling).
Festivals: Regional breeders fair (April), Accordion festival (April), Trad'In Music Festival (July), Medieval festival "In the time of the cathedral builders" (August)
Labels: Ville fleurie (2), Pays d'Art et d'Histoire

Web sites

Places to see

Notre Dame du Real cathedral

Built between 1170 and 1220, it is considered the most important religious monument in the French Alps. Its architecture is largely inspired from the Lombard tradition. The Porch of the Real, surrounded by two lions, housed for more than two centuries a fresco representing the Adoration of the Magi. Are especially noteworthy the 18th century altar in polychrome marble, the preaching chairs and the baroque altars. An organ offered by King Louis XI is being restored. The cathedral's treasure, on display in the St Francis chapel, is an exceptional collection of sacred art from the 15th to the 19th century, revealing the past glory of the Embrun archbishops.

Chapel of the Cordeliers convent

Housing the tourism office, it dates from 1447 and keeps magnificent frescos from the 15th and 16th centuries rediscovered and restored in the 1970s.

Tour brune  (Brown tower)

Tour Brune is an ancient keep of the archbishops of Embrun, and the only remnant of the Episcopal palace built in the 13th century near the cathedral.  The square tower is a important fixture in the Embrun landscape and was the symbol of the archbishop's power.

Serre-Poncon lake

The devastating floods of the Durance, in 1843 and 1856, led to the idea of building a dam. Technical difficulties were many and it is only in 1948 that a Moscow-born engineer, Ivan Wilhem, presented a viable project. The works started in 1955 and villages were flooded in 1959 and 1961.
Some 1,500 persons had to be displaced and the villages of Savines, Ubaye and Rousset disappeared underwater. Savines was rebuilt and the new Savines-le-lac was inaugurated in 1962.
The Serre-Poncon lake is the second largest artificial lake in Europe.

Picomtal castle at Les Crots : (Nearby)

The castle of Picomtal was built by the lords of Embrun, who reigned over the town with the archbishops. Expelled by the archbishop and the inhabitants in 1080, they built a keep in the 13th century now known as Boniface Tower. In the 14th century, a square castle with four towers was finally erected. In 1507, Martin de la Vilette, heir of the Embruns refurbished the castle completely by doubling its ground surface and replacing two towers. The interior decoration dates from before 1692, when it was burnt down by the Duke of Savoy. The castle changed hands many times afterwards and now houses a bed and breakfast.

Embrun – Convent of Les Cordeliers – Lateral chapels - Actuel office du tourisme - ©MOSSOTBruwon Tower - ©Fr.LatreilleLake of Serre-Ponçon, view of Savines and the bridge across Serre-Ponçon - ©Sylvain05
3 previous stages
Chef-lieu de canton of Hautes-Alpes (05)
Population: 6,500
Motto: "The small Nice of the Alps"
Specialities: tourton du Champsaur.
Economy: tourism, agriculture.
Sport: Embrunman (triathlon), Embrun marathon.
Celebrities: Marcellin d'Embrun, Jean Morel (scholar), Clovis Hugues (writer and politician), Eric Boyer (cycling).
Festivals: Regional breeders fair (April), Accordion festival (April), Trad'In Music Festival (July), Medieval festival "In the time of the cathedral builders" (August)
Labels: Ville fleurie (2), Pays d'Art et d'Histoire

Web sites

Clovis Hugues, first mp from a workers party

A poet, novelist and politician, Clovis Hugues is one of the celebrities of Embrun, where he rests at his request after loving the city for the whole of his life. This Provencal, the son of a miller, a talented poet and born agitator, holds a worthy place in French political history as the first elected member of the French Assembly from a workers party. A journalist in Marseille, he took part in the city's Commune in 1871 and was sentenced to four years in jail while his comrade, lawyer Gaston Cremieux, was executed. In 1879, Clovis Hugues took part in the creation in Marseille of the French Workers Party (POF), ancestor of the Socialist Party. It is as a representative of the POF that he became a pioneer at the Deputies Chamber in 1881. "There will be others," he warned at the time.

Extremely outspoken, he fought with Jules Ferry and Leon Gambetta, while publishing sensitive and classical poetry. Hated by the bourgeois of his time, he saw his couple harassed by the sender of anonymous letters, which led his wife to kill the offender, named Morin. She was released without charge.

A figure of Montmartre, attracted by the views of General Boulanger, he was elected as a member of his party until 1906. Upon his death the following year, he asked to be buried in Embrun. A street was named after him while a statue was erected in his honour. Several cities also honoured Hugues and novelist Jean-Claude Izzo wrote his biography.

Poet Clovis Hugues – Domaine public des etats-UnisGrave of Clovis Hugues in Embrun - ©Ceddit
3 previous stages
Chef-lieu de canton of Hautes-Alpes (05)
Population: 6,500
Motto: "The small Nice of the Alps"
Specialities: tourton du Champsaur.
Economy: tourism, agriculture.
Sport: Embrunman (triathlon), Embrun marathon.
Celebrities: Marcellin d'Embrun, Jean Morel (scholar), Clovis Hugues (writer and politician), Eric Boyer (cycling).
Festivals: Regional breeders fair (April), Accordion festival (April), Trad'In Music Festival (July), Medieval festival "In the time of the cathedral builders" (August)
Labels: Ville fleurie (2), Pays d'Art et d'Histoire

Web sites

Jersey wearers after the stage 21

Classifications after the stage 21

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