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Stage town for the 27th time

Prefecture of Hautes-Alpes

Population: 41,000 (Gapençaises and Gapençais)

Personalities: Marie-Anne Chazel, Chantal Lauby (cinema), Jean-Christophe Lafaille (mountaineer who disappeared in the Himalayas in 2006), Sébastien Ogier (eight-time world rally champion), Stéphane Tempier (mountain biker, two-time winner of the Roc d'Azur), Laurence Manfredi (athletics)

Specialities: Tourton du Champsaur (potato and fromage frais fritters), Oreilles d'âne (fresh pasta and spinach gratin), Ravioles of Champsaur, chèvre salée (goat's cheese stew).

Sport: 17,000 members in around a hundred sports clubs, including Les Rapaces (ice hockey, Magnus league) and boule lyonnaise. Air sports (paragliding, hang-gliding at the Gap-Tallard aerodrome, 2nd European parachute jumping platform). Events: Rallye Monte-Carlo WRC (January), Chemins du soleil Gap-Dieulefit Mountain Bike raid(May), Gapen'cîmes (trail, October). Cycling clubs: Pédale gapençaise, Vélo Club Gapençais, PJPC "Pas de Jambes Pas de Chocolat" club, 1 mountain bike school for members of the 3 Gap clubs.

Economy: tourism, administration, banks, hospital. Commercial capital of Hautes-Alpes and Southern Alps (2,000 companies, 20,000 jobs). Agriculture: breeding of Alpine lamb, fruit production, wine growing (a unique grape variety in the world, the Mollard), dairy and cereal production, arboriculture.

Festivals: Night of Folk (traditional music and dance) / Rencontres de la Cinémathèque de montagne / Saxophone European Academy / Tous Dehors, enfin (June, street arts) / Eclat(s) d'été Festival (July-August, free concerts and events)

Labels: Tour de France cycling town / 3-flower town in bloom / UNICEF child-friendly town / Town of the Alps / Tourisme et Handicap and Toutourisme (dog-friendly) labels / 2015 winner of the "Positive Energy Territories for Green Growth" label.  

Websites / FB / Twitter / Insta www.ville-gap.fr  / www.gap-tallard-vallees.fr  /  www.hautes-alpes.fr  / Website of the Comité départemental du Tourisme  www.hautes-alpes.net  / www.gap-tallard-durance.fr / www.facebook.com/officetourisme.gap / www.facebook.com/hautesalpes.departement / www.facebook.com/hautes.alpes.tourisme / https://twitter.com/myhautesalpes / https://www.youtube.com/user/MesAlpes / https://www.youtube.com/user/OTGap / @villedegap /

 


GAP AND CYCLING

Ever since the first victory by Belgian "locomotive" Jef Demuysère in 1931, Gap has regularly made an appointment with the Tour de France, often as a launch pad to the summits (Briançon or Alpe d'Huez), but also as a prestigious finish. Long-distance attackers have enjoyed success here, such as Jean-François Bernard, who made his name here in 1986, and Pierrick Fédrigo twenty years later. In 2011 and 2013, Gap saw rainbows fly past, as Thor Hushovd and then Rui Costa won here with the world champion's jersey on their backs. Back in 1933, Georges Speicher won in Gap and went on to become world champion. Over the last few years, Gap has been a favourite with attackers. In 2015, it was likeable Spaniard Ruben Plaza who won solo with a lead of around thirty seconds over Peter Sagan, who that year was collecting second places. In 2019, the unstoppable Matteo Trentin, with the European champion's jersey on his back, took his third stage win of the Tour, slightly detached, giving the Michelton-Scott team its fourth success of this edition. The town has once again smiled on the Australian team, since in 2020, Gap served as a springboard for a stage won in Privas by Adam Yates, who took the Yellow Jersey.


SIGHTS:

  • Château and estate of Charance

Construction: 10th to 19th centuries.

History: around the 10th century, a fortified castle was built on the estate. The Bishop of Gap bought the estate in 1307. It remained the property of the bishops until the French Revolution. In the 16th century, Bishop Gabriel de Sclaffanatis transformed the fortified castle into a large residence. It was not until 1644 that Bishop Artus de Lionne restored the estate, which had been ransacked during the Wars of Religion, and transformed it into a vast farming estate. Ruined under Louis XIV, the site was once again rebuilt by the bishops and, by the early 18th century, it had taken on the layout we know today. Bishop Jacques Marie Caritat de Condorcet and his successor Jean Baptiste de Maillé de la Tour Landry turned the château into a luxurious residence. During the Revolution, the château was sold as national property. In the 19th century, the upper part of the estate was converted into an English garden. Numerous waterfalls were created, the lake was enlarged, boat garages were built on its shores and woodland paths were laid out. In 1973, the commune of Gap became the owner of the estate and made it accessible to the public.

Characteristics: Set against the mountain overlooking Gap, the Charance estate extends from an altitude of 100 m to 1,903 m, offering exceptional panoramic views. Since 2004, the site has been home to the National Alpine Botanical Conservatory, which studies, protects and promotes Alpine flora.

Listed as: Historical Monument since 1987.  

  • Gap Cathedral 

Construction: 1866 to 1904.

Style: neo-Gothic.

Architect: Charles Laisné.

History: on the initiative of the bishop of Gap, Mgr. Bernadou, it was built to replace a former medieval cathedral that was falling into ruins. The architect commissioned painter Émile Hirsch to create the choir's stained-glass windows, while the mosaic was created by Giandomenico Facchina..

Characteristics: the church has a polychrome facade using stones of different colours. It was inspired by the neighbouring cathedral of Embrun and the Lombard style. The polychrome exterior walls are made from a variety of white, grey and pink stones. The bell tower rises to 70 metres, making it the tallest building in the town of Gap.

Trivia: the famous musical group Les Prêtres, from the diocese of Gap and Embrun, recorded the video for their album Spiritus Dei in the Gap cathedral. Listed as: Historialc Monument since 1906.  

  • Town Hall

Built: 1743

Style: classic.

History: the first town hall was built in 1400 on the site of today's Town Hall. The belfry overlooking the building dates back to 1407. Destroyed by a fire set by the Duke of Savoy's troops in 1692, the building was rebuilt to the plans of the architect Lechat and completed in 1743, as indicated by the inscription in Roman numerals beneath the balcony.

Listed as: Historical Monuments in 1948.  

  • Departmental museum

Opening: 1910

History: in 1877, Robert Long, archivist for the Hautes-Alpes, created the Gap Archaeological Museum to display the remains of the cathedral. After his death, the collections were brought together in 1881 in the Merlin building, which soon became too cramped. New premises were needed. Work began in 1903 to plans drawn up by the departmental architect Chaudier. It was opened to the public in September 1910.

Characteristics: the museum houses collections of archaeology, fine art, local history and ethnography, earthenware and natural history. In particular, it houses remarkable sculptures from the Roman period, ornaments dating from the Bronze Age, a collection of carved furniture from the Queyras region and the mausoleum of the Duc de Lesdiguières.

Special feature: the black and white marble mausoleum of François de Bonne de Lesdiguières (1543-1626) was executed during his lifetime by Lorraine sculptor Jacob Richier (1586-1640). The monument was erected in the family castle at Glaizil. During the Revolution, the Hautes-Alpes administration asked the heiress of this mausoleum, Mme de Veynes, to make it available to them. The mausoleum was then placed in Gap cathedral. When it was demolished, the mausoleum was transferred to the meeting room of the General Council. The mausoleum was transferred again in 1912 to the newly-created departmental museum.  

  • Eclat(s) d'Été

It's the story of a free festival that has continued to evolve, and whose scope and artistic quality have been refined over the years. It has become a not-to-be-missed event in Gap's summer season. From the beginning of July to the end of August, no fewer than thirty dates are on offer. There's something for everyone, from contemporary music, world music and street arts to new French acts, classical music and jazz. It's a story told through music and art, in Gap's parks, squares and neighbourhoods, for all ages.


TO EAT:

  • Tourtons of Champsaur

Tourtons are a delicious speciality of the Champsaur region, made in the past for festive occasions. They take the form of a thin cushion of pastry filled with mashed potatoes, fresh tomme cheese and onions. Once fried, tourtons are served with a green salad or meat.

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