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On the road

AUVERGNE-RHÔNE 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

HAUTE-SAVOIE (74)
Population: 850,000.
Prefecture: Annecy
Sub-prefectures: Bonneville, Saint-Julien-en-Genevois, Thonon-les-Bains.
Number of communes: 279
Surface area: 4 388 km2
Specialities: AOC/AOP cheeses (Reblochon, Abondance, Tomme, Tome des Bauges, Beaufort, Chevrotin, Emmental, Raclette), AOC Savoie wines (Ayze, Royal Seyssel, Roussette). Other labels: Berthoud (STG), Savoie pears and apples (IGP). Specialities and traditional dishes: Génépi, Crozets, Tartiflette, perch fillets (lake fish), diots, blueberry pie, Savoy fondue, potato fritters, honey, bidoyon (artisanal cider), gentian.
Sports clubs: headquarters of the French ski federation. Football Club Annecy, GFA Rumilly Vallières (football). Thonon Evian Grand Genève Football Club. FCS Rumilly (rugby). US Annecy Rugby. Black Panthers of Thonon-les-Bains (American football). Annecy CSAV Handball. Annemasse Basket Club. Chamonix Elite Hockey Club "Les Pionniers". Pays du Mont Blanc Hockey Club. Haute-Savoie Nordic Team
Competitions and major events: Kandahar, Alpine Skiing World Cup - Chamonix Mont Blanc Les Houches, Greenweez Maxi-Race - Annecy, Alps Bike Festival - La Clusaz, Mountain Bike World Cup - Les Gets, Climbing World Cup - Chamonix Mont Blanc, Jumping International in Megève, Evian Championship, Ultra Trail of the Mont Blanc - Chamonix, Biathlon World Cup - Le Grand Bornand, Telemark World Cup - Samoëns and Saint-Gervais-les-Bains, High'Five Festival - Annecy, Rock the pistes - Portes du Soleil, Critérium du Dauphiné, Ski Mountaineering World Cup - Flaine, Grande Odysée Savoie-Mont-Blanc, Tour de l'Avenir, Tour des Pays de Savoie
Heritage: Lake Geneva, Mont Blanc and Aiguille du Midi, Lake Annecy. Castle of the Sires of Bonneville. Castle of Clermont. Plateau of Les Glières (national necropolis). Montenvers train (Mer de Glace) and Tramway du Mont Blanc, Château of Ripaille, Col des Aravis, Les Flottins village, Pont des Amours bridge (Annecy), Santa Claus hamlet, Château of Annecy, bridge of la Caille, Basilica of la Visitation, La Tournette, Col de la Forclaz, Abbey of Abondance, Buvette Cachat of Evian waters, Les Allinges castles, Baroque chapels of St-Gervais, Aulps abbey, Thermal spas of St-Gervais.
Festivals: International Animation Film Festival, Montjoux Festival, Guitare en Scène, Nomade Reggae Festival, Rock'n'Poche, Megève International Jazz Festival, Pleins Feux Festival, Flottins village, Morzine Harley Days, Musilac Mont-Blanc, Radio Meuh Circus Festival, Mont-Blanc Humour, Paradisio Annecy, Andilly Medieval Festival.
Economy: watchmaking (Cluses), screw-cutting, mechanics (Dassault, Alcatel), agriculture and agri-food (Reblochon milk production, tome, Evian water), mountain tourism, sports industry (Dynastar, Salomon, Mavic). Outdoor Sport Valley Cluster, for the economic development of the outdoor sector. Major facilities (Rochexpo, etc.)
Website: https://www.hautesavoie.fr/, www.haute-savoie-tourisme.org/

Rich in heritage, quality agriculture, culinary specialities and unusual landscapes, Haute-Savoie is one of the most attractive departments in France, with a quality of life and standard of living that are unanimously recognised. It is thanks to the diversity of its territory that Haute-Savoie is able to make the most of it: mountain landscapes, exceptional lakes, dynamic valleys... From the north to the south of the department, locals and visitors take advantage from a remarkable living environment.
Haute-Savoie is a true cycling region and since 1947 has hosted 18 Tour de France stage towns and 27 of its mountain passes have been crossed by the Tour. Since 2021, the Haute-Savoie Departmental Council has put in place a real policy in favour of cycling. Whether it is through support for projects in its 279 communes, through the "Savoir rouler" operation for schoolchildren, or through the hosting of numerous cycling events, Haute-Savoie is fully committed to promoting cycling.

Km 2.3

SAINT-JEAN-D'AULPS (Pop: 1,600)
Jean Gueguen, winner of Paris-Bruxelles and Paris-Camembert, took part in two Tours de France in 1951 and 1953. He died in Saint-Jean-d'Aulps.

Aulps Abbey
Foundation: founded in the 11th century.
Location: at an altitude of 800 m in a valley in the Chablais region.
Characteristics: covering an area of three hectares, the estate includes the remains of the abbey church, the cellars, the gardens, the gatehouse and, above all, the old monastic farm.
History: its monks joined the Cistercian Order in 1136. It became one of the most important monasteries in medieval Savoy. The buildings were largely destroyed in 1823. Until 1998, the monastic estate was a farm.
Current destination: houses a unique interpretation centre in France dedicated to the daily life of the monks of a mountain abbey in the Middle Ages. The gardens of the abbey are also the object of particular care with the creation of a botanical garden. Open-air cinema performances are given in summer.
Listing: Historical Monument in 1902.

Km 10

LA BAUME (Pop: 330)

Lake Jotty
Situation: on the Dranse de Morzine.
Characteristics: extends over a length of 1.5 km.
Worth knowing: the Lac du Jotty marks a change of state for the Dranse de Morzine. It is from here that it becomes narrower and deeper.

Jotty dam
Foundation: built in the 20th century (1948-1950).
History: hydraulic dam.
Characteristics: 120 m long and 22.5 m high arch dam.

Km 12.1

LA VERNAZ (Pop: 350)

Devil's Bridge gorge
Situation: created by a glacier, the Pont du Diable gorges are located in the Aulps valley and are crossed by the Dranse de Morzine.
History: an example of erosion in the limestone pre-Alps of the Chablais. The river, while already in a deep valley, encountered a limestone barrier (the rocks of La Garde) dating back to the Cretaceous period, then covered again in the Jurassic period. This configuration has been eroded over time by this impetuous river, forming a defile.
Note: this site was developed from 1893 and was listed in 1908. Since 2012, it has been an emblematic site of the Chablais Unesco Global Geopark.

Km 36.9

PUBLIER (Pop: 7,500)
A former spa town on the shores of Lake Geneva, Publier is also known for the port and the Amphion beach, where several celebrities lived, including Django Reinhardt, who wrote the song "Folie d'Amphion", but above all Anna de Noailles, who lived there for many years in her villa Bassaraba. The garden of the villa, open to the public, houses a votive temple in honour of the poetess, erected after her death in 1938.

Km 42.7

THONON-LES-BAINS (Pop: 35,900)
The town on Lake Geneva hosted the Tour de France nine times between 1955 and 1981 and has seen riders of the calibre of Jacques Anquetil, Jan Janssen and Sean Kelly win stages. Thonon has also hosted the Critérium du Dauphiné seven times with such prestigious winners as Bernard Thévenet and Hennie Kuiper. Among the riders born in Thonon is former French champion Sébastien Médan, who launched the Thonon Cycling Race in 2021.

Château de Ripaille
Foundation: built from the 14th century.
Styles: medieval and 1900s style.
History: built by Amadeus VIII in 1434 as a hermitage for a great lord to retire to. Several religious orders, including that of the Carthusian monks, the revolutionary armies and a general of Napoleon then occupied the site successively.
Current destination: the castle is the seat of a foundation, created in 1976, which works on the conversation, the valuation and the animation of this monument. Ripaille is currently one of the hundred “remarkable sites of taste” with the production on the private domain of a high quality AOC wine.
The saying: "Who has not seen Ripaille, has never seen anything worth seeing".
Listing: listed as a historical monument in 1942.

In Allinges (2 km)

Châteaux d'Allinges Estate
Foundation: 10th century.
Characteristics: the two castles (Château d'Allinges-Vieux and Château d'Allinges-Neuf) stand out as being located opposite each other and separated by a short distance. They were built on a crescent-shaped ridge on the southern shore of Lake Geneva.
History: the two castles are not mentioned together until the beginning of the 13th century, well after their construction. At that time, Château-Neuf was in the possession of the House of Savoy, while Château-Vieux belonged to the Sires of Faucigny. Following the Delphinian-Savoyard conflict, which lasted from the second half of the 13th century until the 14th century, Château-Vieux was gradually abandoned and only Château-Neuf remained in use. It was finally dismantled in 1703 by the Duke of Savoy in the fear of seeing this stronghold fall into French hands.
Listing: listed as historical monuments in 2011.

Km 56.2

REYVROZ (Pop: 500)

Chablais Unesco Global Geopark
The Chablais Unesco Global Geopark (formerly Geopark Chablais) is a geological park located in the Haute-Savoie department in France. It corresponds to the territory of the French Chablais and extends from the southern shore of Lake Geneva to the border with Switzerland. It comprises 62 communes, including Thonon-les-Bains, and covers almost 900 km2 for 125,000 inhabitants. The Chablais Geopark joined the network of Unesco-supported geoparks in March 2012.

Km 77.3

ONNION (Pop: 1,300)
Along with Bogève, Viuz-en-Sallaz and Saint-Jeoire, the commune is home to the Brasses winter sports resort.

Saint-Maurice Church
Foundation: 19th century (1824-1829).
History: built on the site of a primitive church.
Characteristics: the exterior paintings were done in 1871 by an Italian decorative painter. The bell, dating from 1732, is a listed monument.

Km 81.8

SAINT-JEOIRE (Pop: 3,400)
The town, located near the imposing Môle (1,863 m) is dominated by the Château de Beauregard.

Beauregard Castle
Construction: 13th to 20th century
Styles: medieval, renaissance and modern.
Characteristics: it takes the form of a flanked enclosure enclosing a fortified house, parts of which survive from the 12th, 13th and 14th centuries. The original function of the castle was to defend the town of Saint-Jeoire-en-Faucigny. It was then a simple rectangular dungeon which still constitutes the main body of the castle.
History: the history of the castle, closely linked to that of the La Fléchère family, has been very eventful. Burned and looted several times, notably by Geneva's troops or during the French Revolution, its interior had to be completely rebuilt on several occasions, although the walls remained in place. The castle remained in the La Fléchère de Beauregard family until 2004, i.e. for eight centuries.
Current destination: offered in 2004 to the diocese of Annecy which entrusted it to a charismatic religious community of Franciscan inspiration, the Eucharistein Fraternity, in 2008.

Saint-Georges Church and Square Tower
Foundation: built in the 19th century (1855-1858).
Style: Lombard Neo-Gothic style.
History: a first rectangular church was built in the Middle Ages and modified over time. Its bell tower, threatening to collapse, was pulled down in 1739. Following a communal decision, the construction of a new bell tower was undertaken, and completed in 1759.

Km 94

Thyez (Pop: 6,300)
Town of Maurice Manificat, cross-country skier and Olympic medallist in 2014 in Sochi and in 2018 in Pyeongchang.

Km 100.5

CLUSES (Pop: 17,000)
Cluses is a high-tech town. This is the consequence of a tradition of avant-garde. In the 18th century, a local man named Ballaloud introduced watchmaking technology to the valley, which he brought back from Germany. Over the decades, Cluses became the centre of the watchmaking trade in the Arve Valley. This activity consisted of producing series of parts for watch movements which were then sold to Geneva. In 1848, four years after the fire that totally destroyed the town, the prestigious National School of Watchmaking was created, a training centre for watchmaking technicians that enabled Cluses to become a thriving industrial town. The 1950s and 1960s were the golden age of screw-cutting. This industrial history is retraced by the Museum of Watchmaking and Screw-Cutting.
It was from Cluses that a 2021 Tour stage set off towards Tignes, where Ben O'Connor won solo while Tadej Pogacar crushed the opposition to take the lead once and for all. Cluses has also twice hosted stage finishes of the Tour de France from the Tarentaise valley. This was the case in 1994, with a stage starting in Moûtiers won by Piotr Ugrumov and in 2002 for a stage starting in Aime.
Cluses has been on the course of the Critérium du Dauphiné more often than not, most recently in 2019 for the start of a stage won in Champéry by Dylan van Baarle, but also of the Tour des Pays de Savoie, with prestigious winners, Tao Geoghegan Hart in 2016 and Egan Bernal in 2017.

Museum of watchmaking and screw-cutting
Foundation: early 20th century.
History: original in its history and its collections, the Museum of Watchmaking and Screw-Cutting is worth a visit. Initiated at the dawn of the 20th century by the National School of Watchmaking in Cluses, the museum had a dual purpose: to collect old time measuring instruments (the oldest piece dates from the 16th century) and to preserve the memory of the local industry.
Features: located today in the Espace Carpano & Pons, a former industrial site, the museum also evokes the history of the Watchmaking School, notably by presenting a unique collection of models manufactured in Cluses. Thematic guided tours, educational workshops and temporary exhibitions are regularly organized.

Km 115.6

SALLANCHES (Pop: 16,000)
On 19 April 1840, the town of Sallanches was completely devastated by a fire, which left nothing but ashes, 63 people burnt to a crisp and only five houses standing out of the 273 in the town. The disaster provoked a vast surge of solidarity (Victor Hugo was among the first contributors), and it was followed the next year by a typhus epidemic that killed many more inhabitants. It was then necessary to completely rebuild the town after razing what was left of the old one, except for the church and the few houses that had resisted the fire. King Charles-Albert of Savoy-Sardinia financed this rehabilitation, which was entrusted to architect François Justin, who was inspired by the orthogonal plan of Turin to build a new town of Sardinian neo-classical architecture. François Justin had to work again in 1844 to rebuild the town of Cluses, which had also suffered a devastating fire.
The site of a legendary world championship won by Bernard Hinault in 1980, Sallanches is also the home of Charly Mottet, twice fourth in the Tour de France (ten participations) and three times winner of the Critérium du Dauphiné. Sallanches has hosted the Tour de France three times, always for starts: in 2016 a time trial won in Megève by Chris Froome started there.

1980: Bernard Hinault's masterpiece
1980 was a special year for Bernard Hinault. In the spring, the Badger signed one of the most resounding feats of his career by winning a grueling Liège-Bastogne-Liège in the snow and cold. At the same time, the Breton became the first Frenchman after Jacques Anquetil to win the Giro d'Italia. Everything went wrong in the Tour de France, however, when the title holder was forced to abandon the race in Pau due to a painful knee injury. He quickly recovered to win a stage of the Tour du Limousin and to start the world championships in Sallanches in good shape. If Hinault has never shone before in the lottery of the World Championships, it was because the generally flat courses or the national team intrigues did not favour him. But the Savoy course, with several ascents of the dreaded Domancy climb, was one of the most difficult for rainbow jersey hunters. "Put the champagne on ice", Hinault told the owner of the hotel where the French team was staying, as he was heading towards the start. Indeed, the Badger went on the attack with 150 km to go and crushed all his opponents until the last one, Italian Gianbattista Baronchelli.

Km 124.1

PASSY (Pop: 11,200)
Suffering from too much exposure to radiation, Marie Curie died on 29 June 1934 in a Passy establishment, the Sancellemoz sanatorium.

Km 129.9

SAINT-GERVAIS-LES-BAINS (Pop: 5,600)
A spa and posh ski resort, with its large hotels from the beginning of the 20th century, such as the Hôtel du Mont-Joly (listed as a MH in 1997), Saint-Gervais is part of the community of communes of the Pays du Mont-Blanc, whose headquarters are in Passy.
Saint-Gervais has hosted three stages of the Tour de France, with finishes in Le Bettex in 1990, 1992 and 2016. On the latter occasion, it was Romain Bardet who took the stage in the pouring rain to win.
Two stage finishes of the Critérium du Dauphiné were also held with a final climb on Le Bettex. The first was in 2015 when Christopher Froome won, dropping Tejay van Garderen with 1.5km to go. The second was in 2018 when Adam Yates won the final stage, catching breakaway rider Daniel Navarro on the line. Geraint Thomas, 5th in the stage, kept his yellow jersey.
This is also Jeannie Longo's hometown, where her parents were teachers.

Eagle's Nest Tramway Station
Le Nid d'Aigle is the terminus of the Mont Blanc tramway line (TMB), located in the commune of Saint-Gervais-les-Bains. It welcomes mountaineers and hikers at an altitude of 2,362 metres, below the Bionnassay glacier. In winter, the tramway stops at Bellevue station, as the Nid d'Aigle station is not accessible due to avalanche risks. A new chalet is under construction to replace the old one built in 1933 by Georges Orset and destroyed by fire in 2002. The journey by tram from Le Fayet to the Nid d'Aigle takes about three quarters of an hour and one of its attractions is the panorama. It is from the Nid d'Aigle that the "Voie Royale" of Mont Blanc starts via the Tête rousse refuge and then the Goûter refuge.

Km 134.6

COMBLOUX (Pop : 2,100)
Described by Victor Hugo as "the pearl of the Alps in its glacier setting". During the 1930s, winter sports developed, giving rise to the ski resort and linked to the large Évasion Mont-Blanc ski area. Today, the promotional expression "Combloux 360° Mont-Blanc France" tends to be used to designate this resort in the Mont-Blanc region, because of its panoramic view of the surrounding massifs. Its church, Saint-Nicolas, is listed as a historic monument.

Km 139.1

DEMI-QUARTIER (Pop: 870)
Demi-Quartier is a French commune sharing with Taillepied in Normandy and Turquestein-Blancrupt in Lorraine the particularity of having its town hall located in another commune. The town hall is located in Megève, on the church square, opposite the town hall of Megève. French singer and actor Michel Sardou has lived there since 2007.

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