Unterwegs

AUVERGNE-RHONE ALPES REGION

Departments: Ain, Allier, Ardèche, Cantal, Drôme, Isère, Loire, Haute-Loire, Puy-de-Dôme, Rhône, Métropole de Lyon, Savoie, Haute-Savoie.
Population: 8 million
Prefecture: Lyon
Surface area: 69,711 km2
Specialities: Beaujolais, Côtes du Rhône and Savoy wines, Lyon specialities (quenelles, cervelles de canut, saucisson), potée auvergnate, Savoyard specialities (raclette, fondue, tartiflettes, diots, crozets), cheeses (beaufort, reblochon, cantal, bleu d'Auvergne, Salers, saint-Nectaire...), green lentille of Le Puy, waters (Evian, Thonon, Volvic) verbena, chartreuse. Sports clubs: Olympique Lyonnais, AS Saint-Etienne, Clermont Foot 63, Grenoble Foot 38 (football). ASM Clermont, Lyon OU, FC Grenoble, Stade Aurillacois, US Oyonnax (rugby), ASVEL Villeurbanne (basketball), Chambéry (handball), Brûleurs de loup Grenoble, Pionniers de Chamonix (ice hockey)
Competitions: women's football world cup, ski competitions (critérium de la Première neige in Val d'Isère), Tour de France passes, Critérium du Dauphiné.
Economy: (8th European region) high-tech industries, automobile (Berliet), metallurgy, rubber, plastics, chemicals, electronics, food processing, textiles, digital, banks, universities, administrations, viticulture, tyres (Michelin). Design. New technologies (Inovallée) Winter and summer tourism. 
Festivals: Fête des Lumières in Lyon, Nuits de Fourvière in Lyon, quais du polar in Lyon, biennale du design in Saint-Etienne, classical music festival in La Chaise-Dieu
Tourist sites: old Lyon and Croix-Rousse, Puy-en-Velay cathedral, Lake Annecy, Chambéry castle, winter sports in Isère, Savoie and Haute-Savoie, Cantal, thermal resorts, Auvergne volcanoes. Caverne du Pont d'Arc. Castle of Grignan. Bastille of Grenoble. Vulcania. Parc des Oiseaux.
Websites and social networks: www.auvergnerhonealpes.fr

SAVOIE (73)

Region: Auvergne Rhône-Alpes
Population: 437,915 inhabi
Surface area: 6,028km²
Number of cantons: 19
Number of communes: 273
Prefecture: Chambéry (Pop: 59,629)
Sub-prefectures: Albertville, St-Jean-de-Maurienne
Specialities: Raclette, tartiflette, fondue, crozets (square-shaped pasta made from buckwheat flour), diots and pormoniers (pork sausages cooked in white wine), Saint-Genix (brioche with red pralines), Savoy cake, chocolate truffles, bugnes (doughnuts), génépi (mountain plant liqueur), Savoy cheeses (Tome des Bauges, Beaufort.)
Economy: tourism, food processing, eco-industries, mountain industries, composite materials, information and communication technologies, metalworking
Heritage: Hautecombe Abbey (on the banks of Lake Bourget), Castle of the Dukes of Savoy (Chambéry), Esseillon barrier forts (Haute Maurienne), Vanoise National Park, Bauges and Chartreuse regional nature parks, Lake Bourget, Lake Aiguebelette, etc. Olympic heritage in Albertville: 53m high Olympic mast
Sport: Chambéry Savoie Mont Blanc Handball (D1), AG2R-Citroën team (cycling), Aix Maurienne Savoie Basket (ProB) / Events: World Alpine Ski Championships Courchevel-Méribel 2023, World Mountain Bike Championships-Les Gets, August 2022. Celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Albertville Winter Olympics.
Culture: Musilac in Aix-les-Bains, Les Estivales en Savoie in Chambéry, Le Grand Bivouac in Albertville, Les Arcs European Film Festival
Websites and social networks: www.savoie.fr / https://www.facebook.com/SavoieDepartement/ / https://twitter.com/SavoieDepart / https://www.savoie-mont-blanc.com/ / https://www.facebook.com/savoiemontblancFR/ / @savoiemontblancFR / https://twitter.com/SavoieMontBlanc / @SavoieMontBlanc #SavoieMontBlanc / https://www.pinterest.fr/savoiemontblanc/ / https://www.instagram.com/savoiemontblanc/ / https://www.youtube.com/user/SavoieMontBlanc

Km 10.9

AITON (Pop: 1,700)

Aiton Fort
Construction: 1875 to 1880
Characteristics: this is a second-generation Séré de Rivières fort, designed for a garrison of 351 men and 16 guns, including two mortars and a single flanking gun. It has a role as an interdiction fort near the confluence of the Isère and Arc valleys, located opposite the town of Chamousset.
History: the fort was built on the site of the ruins of an episcopal palace. After the Algerian War, the fort became an army disciplinary centre, whose sinister reputation led to its closure in the 1970s.
Current use: it was decommissioned in 1984, then acquired by the municipality in 1986, then redeveloped. Housing was built on the barracks, as well as a panoramic restaurant, and the town hall was installed there.

Km 16.5

VAL D'ARC (Pop: 2,000)
It is the result of the merger of the communes of Aiguebelle and Randens, separated by the Arc. Former professional footballer for PSG, Lyon and Olympique de Marseille Fabrice Fiorese started out in Aiguebelle. It is also on the territory of the commune that Italian Nino Farina, the first Formula 1 world champion, was killed in 1966 when he hit a tree after losing control of his Ford Lotus Cortina.

Km 40.3

LA CHAMBRE (Pop: 1 200)
A village in the Basse-Maurienne, crossed by the Arc, the town is the capital of the eponymous canton. The town enjoyed a certain renown during the Middle Ages with the feudal family of La Chambre, which held the title of Viscount of Maurienne, the main local competitor of the future Savoy family. This small county town offering a multitude of activities, is located on the road axis of the famous Madeleine and Glandon passes and close to winter and summer sports resorts.

Collegiate Church of Saint-Marcel
Construction: 12th century.
History: the church dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin was erected as a collegiate church in 1514 under the name of Saint Marcel.
Characteristics: its magnificent Romanesque portal is, according to Raymond Oursel "a unique treasure of 12th century sculpture in Savoy, and already Gothic in spirit". The church can be visited on Thursday mornings in July and August. It was last restored in 1995.
Listing: listed as a Historical Monument in 1939.

Km 49.9

LACETS DE MONTVERNIER (782 m)
The Tour de France took this spectacular route from the Arc Valley to Montvernier for the first time in 2015. Romain Bardet was leading at the top. Two years later, it was another Frenchman, Pierre Rolland, who was the first to ride up it. No less than six years of work, between 1928 and 1934, were necessary to complete the 400 m of difference in altitude to link the Arc valley to the village of Montvernier.

Km 57.8

SAINT-JEAN-DE-MAURIENNE (8,200)
Although the Tour had shunned Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne until 2006, it has since become a regular fixture here with stages in 2010, 2012, 2015 and 2019. The French shone here with victories by Sandy Casar in 2010 and Romain Bardet in 2015. To win his first Tour stage, the rider from Auvergne attacked on the Glandon before showing his exceptional descending skills to win solo, 33 seconds ahead of Pierre Rolland. In the end, a 9th place overall for the Frenchman, and the red bib as the most aggressive rider in Paris. In 2019, the town was the start of the famous stage to Tignes, which never reached its destination because of a hailstorm and a mudslide. Egan Bernal still took the Yellow Jersey that day.
Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne is a town where sports tourism rules, both in winter in the ski resorts of the Maurienne (La Toussuire, Valloire) and in summer, where the town prides itself on being the world capital of amateur climbers with 48 cycle routes, 1,600 km of itineraries and ten major passes, six of which are hors-categorie.

SIGHTS

Cathedral of St John the Baptist
Construction: built in the 11th and 15th centuries.
Styles: Romanesque and Gothic.
History: founded in the 6th century to house the relics of St John the Baptist, rebuilt in the 11th century and enlarged in the 15th century, it houses an exceptional collection of Gothic stalls.
Characteristics: the cathedral's main structure dates from the 11th century. It has one of the oldest roof structures in France, as several trusses of its roof have been precisely dated to 1075-1076. Under the choir of the cathedral was a crypt, probably to house the relics of Saint John the Baptist. The Romanesque crypt was filled in the 15th century and rediscovered in 1958. A cloister, built in the 15th century, links the cathedral to the canons' refectory. The spire was 80 m high, but the Revolution destroyed it.
Listing: listed as a historical monument in 1899, 1906 and 1933.

Opinel Museum
Created in a former workshop where the famous knife was made, the museum was completely renovated in 2013. Next to the forge and the machines still in place, a modern scenography allows visitors to discover the manufacturing processes of yesterday and today, as well as the history of the Opinel family and the famous Savoy knife.
www.opinel-musee.com

Km 64.6

SAINT-JULIEN-MONT-DENIS (Pop: 1,600)

Church of Saint-Julien-Mont-Denis
Foundation: built in the 17th century and consecrated in 1682.
Style: Savoy baroque art.
History: tradition reports that each parishioner who came to mass brought materials for its construction.
Listing: Historical monument in 1945.

Km 70.7

SAINT-MICHEL-DE-MAURIENNE (Pop: 2,600)
At the foot of the Galibier climb, this commune was the scene of the most tragic railway disaster in France in 1917: 425 reservists were killed. A monument commemorates this tragedy.
Gilbert Chaumaz, who took part in two Tours de France in 1978 and 1979, was born in Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne and lived in Saint-Michel.

Km 83.8

COL DU TÉLÉGRAPHE (1,566 m)
Situated at an altitude of 1,560 m, it owes its name to its first occupations marked by the presence of the Chappe telegraph. Invented by the Abbé Claude Chappe (1763-1805), this device with articulated arms illustrates the progress of telegraphy linked to that of optics. It worked by observing with long sight signals transmitted from telegraph stations to telegraph stations 5 to 15 kilometres apart and encoding sentences and words that only the postmasters at the ends, in the big cities, could decipher.
The pass will be ridden by the Tour de France riders for the 30th time since 1911. In 2017, Primoz Roglic was in front, just before winning his first stage on the Tour in Serre-Chevalier.

Fort du Télégraphe
Construction: 1895
Characteristics: at the pass of the same name (owned by the town hall) built in 1895, it includes a wall of escarpment, surrounding it with a ditch dug in the rock, a barracks against the rocky massif, batteries on the work as well as low batteries equipped with an inclined plane allowing the supply of materials and ammunition. This position of the fort at the level of the pass (then called the Ébeyon pass) made it possible to counter the enemy coming from the Thabor, the Galibier, Modane or the Encombres pass to ensure the defence of the Alpine border, in the face of a threatening Italy and a triple alliance concluded with Germany and Austria.
History: during the Italian attack of 22 June 1940 (Battle of the Alps) the Telegraphe Fort was used as a command post and served as a base for the French counter-attack against the Italian assailants coming from the Névache valley, caught in a pincer movement.

Km 86.3

LES GRANGES

Pantani monument
Sergio Plumetto, an Italian fan and member of the Pantani Forever association, proposed to build a memorial on the ascent to the Galibier, at a place called "Les Granges", to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Tour de France's passage over the Galibier and the memory of Marco Pantani (1970-2004), winner of the Tour in 1998. The monument was inaugurated on 19 June 2011.

Km 88.3

VALLOIRE (Pop: 1,200)
This winter sports resort, between Télégraphe and Galibier, is the village of Jean-Baptiste Grange, two-times slalom world champion. More famous for its ski champions than its cycling champions, Valloire is nevertheless well known to the peloton, which regularly passes through here when tackling or recovering from the Galibier climbs. The most famous cyclist of this village, which marks the turning point between the Northern and Southern Alps, is without doubt the priest who officiated there in 1922 and who, that year, lent his bike to Eugène Christophe. As happened to him more than once, the first holder of the Yellow Jersey had broken his fork on the descent and had to borrow the bike to reach Geneva.
The Tour de France has not only passed through Valloire, it has also stopped there three times, the first time in 1972 for a short half-stage of 53 km starting from Briançon and won by Eddy Merckx ahead of Joop Zoetemelk. In 1975, the peloton headed from Valloire to Morzine-Avoriaz, where Spaniard Vicente Lopez-Carril won the stage. In 2019, Nairo Quintana broke away on the Galibier to take the last of his three stage victories in the Grande Boucle in Valloire.

Straw and hay sculpture competition
For the past eleven years, the resort of Valloire has been organising a unique artistic event in July, both festive and linked to its mountains. The theme is free, but the term "sculpture" is generic. It is in fact a "construction" that is filled and dressed with straw and hay. Twelve giant sculptures are created by teams of two sculptors on the Verneys plateau in Valloire. They remain visible throughout the summer.

Km 106.7

COL DU GALIBIER (2 642 m) - Henri Desgrange souvenir
A natural border between the Northern and Southern Alps, the Galibier is the alpine pass most visited by the Tour with 59 passages. In 2011, Andy Schleck won at the summit for the highest finish of a Tour stage. In 2017, it was Primoz Roglic who was leading the way before going on to win in Serre Chevalier. Finally, in 2019, it was Nairo Quintana who reached it in the lead to win in Valloire.
Shortly before the summit (on the Lautaret side), a stele pays tribute to Henri Desgrange, the first director of the Tour de France, who wrote in L'Auto in 1911 for the first crossing of the pass by the riders: "Oh! Sappey! Oh! Laffrey! Oh! Col Bayard! Oh! Tourmalet! I will not fail in my duty by proclaiming that next to the Galibier you are pale and vulgar booze: in front of this giant, there is nothing left to do but to pull off one's cap and to salute low!"

HAUTES-ALPES (05)

Prefecture: Gap
Sub-prefecture: Briançon
Population: 141,800
Number of communes: 162
Surface area: 5 549 km2
Specialities: Tourtons (doughnuts), Oreilles d'âne (cream-based gratin, lasagne and spinach), honeys (mountain, lavender, all flowers...), wines (Tallard and Avance valley), fruits (apples and pears from the Durance valley), cheeses...
Economy: tourism, agropastoralism, wood industry, craftsmanship, departmental aeronautics industry...
Sport: Second department in France in terms of members per inhabitant, in nearly 500 clubs and about fifty disciplines ranging from alpine skiing to ice hockey (Diables Rouges de Briançon and Rapaces de Gap), including cycling (gran fondo, mountain biking), team sports (football, rugby, handball, basketball), athletics, swimming...
Competitions: Southern Region European Cup for women's alpine skiing in Orcières, World Cup for speed skiing in Vars, Embrunman Triathlon, Trail Gapen'cimes, Mondial de l'Escalade Briançon, Alps Epic mountain biking, French Windfoil and KiteFoil Championships in Serre-Ponçon.
Culture and heritage: Vauban fortifications of Briançon and Mont-Dauphin (Unesco world heritage). Lake Serre-Ponçon, Massif des Écrins (Barre des Écrins and Meije), major passes (Izoard, Lautaret, Galibier, Vars, Granon, Noyer...). Departmental Museum in Gap. Alpine botanical garden at Le Lautaret. Religious sites of Notre-Dame du Laus and Boscodon. Villages of Saint-Véran (Queyras) and La Grave (Haute-Romanche) labelled Most Beautiful Villages of France. Embrun Cathedral. Plateau de Bure and Iram astrophysics observatory (Dévoluy). Domaine and park of Château Charance (Gap)
Festivals: Festival Tous Dehors...Enfin de Gap (May), Outdoormix Festival (Embrun), Trad'in Festival (Embrun), Festival de musique de Chaillol, Festival Messiaen (Haute-Romanche).
Websites: www.hautes-alpes.fr / www.hautes-alpes.net / www.phenomenalpes.com

The Hautes-Alpes department is the "highest in France" with a third of its surface area above 2,000 m in altitude. Summer and winter tourism represent the main economic activity of the territory with 387,585 tourist beds and more than 20 million overnight stays. Winter activity is organised around 27 resorts and 25 Nordic sites. In summer, the activity is divided between hiking and mountaineering, white water spots, aerial activities with in particular the site of Gap-Tallard and the lake of Serre-Ponçon, a real "sea in the mountains" where you can practice all the nautical activities between wild creeks and turquoise water.
Its natural heritage is exceptional with the Ecrins National Park and the Queyras and Baronnies Provençales Regional Nature Parks. Its cultural heritage is also exceptional, with two fortified sites listed as Unesco World Heritage Sites: Briançon and Montdauphin.

Km 127.9

LE MONÊTIER-LES-BAINS
A Roman spa and later the seat of a priory that gave it its name, Le Monêtier is part of Serre-Chevalier and hosted a stage start of the Tour in 1996.

Museum of Sacred Art
Opened in 1997, the museum in the Saint-Pierre chapel in Monêtier-les-Bains houses one of the finest collections of sacred art in the Hautes-Alpes. This religious heritage is made up of polychrome wood, gold and silverware and liturgical ornaments, the oldest dating from the 15th century. Beyond the pleasure of the eyes, they are the witnesses of the vitality of the activity of the inhabitants during the centuries as well as of their devotion, linked in great part to the rough mountain environment.

Church of Notre-Dame de l'Assomption in Monêtier-les-Bains
Construction: 4th quarter 15th century, 17th century
History: founded in the 9th century by the Abbey of Novalesa, its first mission was to accommodate travellers passing the Lautaret pass. The parish of Monêtier then came under the jurisdiction of the Abbey of Brema between the 10th and 14th centuries. In 1303, a papal bull from Benedict XI founded a simple priory which was united in 1366 with the abbey of Saint-Victor in Marseille. The present building was probably built between 1457 and 1494. The bell tower, destroyed in 1587 by the governor of Briançon, was rebuilt in 1617. Various works were added during the 19th century.
Listing: listed as a Historical Monument in 1913

Km 139.1

SAINT-CHAFFREY (Pop: 1,700)
The commune, which borders Briançon, has hosted four stages of the Tour de France which ended in Serre-Chevalier, of which Saint-Chaffrey is the most populous. It is located at the foot of the Col du Granon climb, which was climbed by the Tour de France in 1986 (Eduardo Chozas won).

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