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On the road

PROVENCE-ALPES-CÔTE-D'AZUR REGION

Departments: Alpes de Haute-Provence, Hautes-Alpes, Alpes-Maritimes, Bouches-du-Rhône, Var, Vaucluse.
Population: 5.1 million inhabitants
Prefecture: Marseille
Surface area: 31,400 km2
Specialities: Mediterranean cuisine, pizza, pissaladière, panisses, chichis, bouillabaisse, small stuffed dishes, alouettes sans tête (stuffed beef rolls), Marseille feet and packages (mutton), Niçoise salad, pan bagnat, gardiane de taureau, sea urchins, fish (sea bream, bass, red mullet, denti, marbled fish, pageots, paddlefish, sars), wines (rosés from Provence, Côtes de Provence, Côtes du Rhône, Palette, Bandol, etc.)
Sports clubs: Olympique Marseille, OGC Nice (football), Rugby Club Toulon. Cercle des Nageurs de Marseille (swimming)
Competitions: football world cup, Euro 2016 football, rugby world cup, rugby test matches, Tour de France cycling, Paris-Nice, GP La Marseille, Haribo Classic, Tour du Haut-Var, Tour de la Provence, beach volleyball, beach football, rugby in Toulon. Mondial à pétanque in Marseille.
Tourist sites: beaches and seaside resorts (Saint-Tropez, Nice, Saint-Raphaël, Fréjus, Cassis, Bandol etc.. ), Palais des Papes in Avignon, Arles (amphitheatre, Roman remains), Marseille (Vieux Port, Panier, calanques, château d'If, Mucem), Nice (Promenade des Anglais, old Nice, old port), Mont Ventoux, Cannes, ski resorts in the Hautes-Alpes and Alpes maritimes (Serre-Chevalier, Le Sauze, Orcières-Merlette, Isola 2000), Briançon (citadel), Aix-en-Provence.
Economy: 7 pc of French GDP, 3rd region in France, 16th in Europe. Agriculture (market gardening), tertiary sector (80%), universities (Aix-Marseille first university in France, Nice, Toulon), ports (Marseille, La Ciotat, Pot Saint-Louis, Nice), petrochemicals (Fos), logistics, airports of Nice and Marseille, tourism.
Festivals: Cannes Film Festival (cinema), Avignon festival (theatre), Orange choreographies, Aix en Provence festival (opera), jazz in Nice, Marseille festival (dance). Midem (Cannes), Marsatac (Marseille), Fiesta des Suds (Marseille), Plages électroniques (Cannes), Rencontres d'Arles (photography),
Website: www.maregionsud.fr

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 12.4

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 33.2

GALIBIER PASS (2,642 m)

A natural border between the northern and southern Alps, the Galibier is the alpine pass most frequently visited by the Tour, with 59 ascents. 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 at the top before going on to win in Serre Chevalier. Finally, in 2019, it was Nairo Quintana who reached the top on his own before raising his arms 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, all you have to do is pull your cap off and bow low!”

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 50.7

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 67.7

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 77.8

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 91.7

FONTCOUVERTE-LA TOUSSUIRE (Pop: 550, 2,500 for Domaine des Sybelles)

Overlooked by the spectacular Aiguilles d'Arves, Fontcouverte, La Toussuire and the other resorts of the Sybelles ski area are now well known to the riders who rode their roads in 2012 and 2015 with stage victories for Pierre Rolland and Vincenzo Nibali. La Toussuire is also famous for its skiers, Jean-Noël Augert, world slalom champion in 1970 and Jean-Pierre Vidal, gold medallist in the same discipline at the Salt Lake City Olympic Games.
Lovers of religious heritage should visit the church of Notre-Dame de l'Assomption and the chapel of Notre-Dame de la Salette, both of which feature on the "Baroque Paths in Savoie".

Km 96.3

SAINT-JEAN-D'ARVES (Pop: 250)

Saint-Jean-d'Arves, a family resort, is linked to the leading ski area in the Maurienne valley: Les Sybelles (310 km of linked pistes). The resort is largely panoramic with a view of the Aiguilles d'Arves culminating at 3,514 m ("the most beautiful trilogy in the Alps" according to English alpinist William Coolidge who officially made the first ascent).

Km 103.4

SAINT-SORLIN-D'ARVES (Pop: 360)

Village resort, located at the foot of the Croix-de-Fer pass and the Étendard glacier, opposite the Aiguilles d'Arves, Saint-Sorlin-d'Arves offers a breathtaking panorama. In winter, skiing is possible in the heart of the Sybelles ski area, in a sunny village atmosphere and optimal snow conditions, with a wide choice of leisure and relaxation activities. Summer is the time for hiking or cycling. The church of Saint-Saturnin (1603) is part of the Baroque route.
The family of fashion designer Pierre Balmain, whose grandfather was a peddler, came from Saint-Sorlin. When he died in 1982, the designer's ashes were scattered at the foot of the Saint-Sorlin glacier.

Saint-Saturnin Church
Foundation: 17th century (1603)
History: enlarged in 1658, the church's originality lies in the funeral wreaths that hang on its walls and are not placed on the graves where the snow would break their glass beads.

Baroque paths
The Maurienne has many examples of Baroque art, which reached its peak in the 17th and 18th centuries. The exterior of the buildings remains simple, the interior presents exuberant decorations, the Baroque abhors emptiness: vivid paintings, gilding, mouldings, altarpieces, altars with twisted columns, moving statues, countless cherubs. They are often the work of local artists, the painters Dufour de St-Michel enjoying a vast reputation. In Valloire, Beaune, Orelle and St-Martin la Porte there are four stages of the "Baroque paths". The richest and most representative of this amazing art is the church of Notre Dame de l'Assomption in Valloire with an altarpiece of six twisted columns, and the choir vault, decorated with garlands and cherubs, overlooking a sumptuous high altar. Visits are organised by the Association des Guides du Patrimoine des Pays de Savoie and the FACIM.

Km 114

SAINT-COLOMBAN-DES-VILLARDS (Pop: 190)

Halfway up the slope towards the Glandon pass, wooded, joyfully animated by torrents and springs, embellished by the snow-covered peaks of Sambuis, Puy-Gris and Argentières, here are the two villages of the Villards valley: Saint-Colomban and Saint-Alban des Villards. Ideally situated in winter, the Vilards valley is the first gateway to Les Sybelles, one of the great French ski areas with 310 km of pistes.

ISERE (38)

Population: 1.26 million
Prefecture: Grenoble
Sub-prefectures: Vienne, La Tour-du-Pin
Surface area: 7,431 km².
Specialities: Grenoble walnuts (AOC), St Marcellin (IGP cheese), Bleu du Vercors-Sassenage (AOP cheese), ravioles, Chartreuse liqueur, Bonnat chocolates, antésite. Wines: coteaux du Grésivaudan, Balmes dauphinoises, Collines rhodaniennes (IGP wines), Vitis Vienna (Vienne wines). Trout from the Vercors, alpine meats (beef, lamb), gratin dauphinois, brioche de Bourgoin, murçon (charcuterie)...
Sport: FC Grenoble (rugby), Brûleurs de loups (ice hockey), GF38 (football), CSBJ (rugby), Les ours de Villard (hockey), Rugby Sassenage Isère (women's rugby).
Major competitions: Foulée Blanche in Autrans, Vélo Vert Festival in Villard de Lans, UT4M (Ultra tour des 4 massifs), Trail des passerelles du Monteynard, Echappée Belle, EuroNordicWalk Vercors, La Marmotte in Alpe d'Huez (gran fondo event), Icare Cup in Chartreuse, Mégavalanche in Alpe d'Huez.
Heritage: Ecrins National Park, Chartreuse Regional Nature Park, Vercors Regional Nature Park, Vercors High Plateaux Reserve, the largest nature reserve in France. Domaine de Vizille, Grande Chartreuse monastery, Saint-Antoine l'Abbaye, listed as one of the most beautiful villages in France, Pont-en-Royans, Choranche caves, Grenoble cable car, Chartreuse cellars, St Hilaire du Touvet funicular, Crémieu medieval town, Vienne, Walibi Rhône-Alpes amusement park, Virieu castle, Touvet castle.
Festivals: Alpe d'Huez Festival (comedy film festival in Isère - January), Berlioz Festival in La Côte Saint-André (August), Jazz Festival in Vienne (July), Autrans Mountain Film Festival (December), Grenoble Open Air Short Film Festival (July), Musée Electronique Festival at the Musée dauphinois in Grenoble (June), Vercors Music Festival in Autrans (July), Cabaret Frappé Festival in Grenoble, Musiques en Vercors Festival, Rencontres ciné-montagnes de Grenoble
Economy: Industry, electronics, digital, micro and nanoelectronics, information technology, research, health, hydroelectricity, chemicals and the environment, energy, thermal baths, tourism (21.4 million commercial and non-commercial overnight stays - €2 billion in turnover generated by tourism companies)
Websites: www.isere.fr / www.evasion.ishere.fr / www.alpes-isere.com / www.cyclo-alpes.com

Km 120

VAUJANY (Pop: 350)

Grand-Maison dam and lake
Location: French rockfill dam (with earth core), located between the Belledonne and Grandes Rousses massifs (Isère).
Altitude: 1,698 m (theoretical maximum height of the reservoir).
Construction: built in the 20th century.
History: construction work began in 1978 (completed in 1985) and commissioning took place in 1988.
Characteristics: the dam, with a volume of 12,900,000 m3, closes the Eau d'Olle valley over a length of 560 m. With a height of 160 m above the foundations, its thickness at the base is 650 m, of which 100 m constitutes the watertight core. Reservoir capacity: 140 million m3 of water.

Km 139.8

ALLEMONT (Pop: 1,000)

Sometimes spelt Allemond, the village was once home to a royal smelter using ore extracted from local mines (silver in particular). In the 1970s, the Grand-Maison dam brought new prosperity to the village. At the hamlet of Le Rivier (km 59) there is a museum dedicated to the ibex and to the crash over the village of the plane of Field Marshal Trafford Leigh-Mallory, the highest-ranking Allied officer killed during the Second World War.

Km 149.2

LE BOURG D'OISANS (Pop: 3,500)

Once established on the shores of a lake, now gone, the town is known to Tour fans as the starting point for the climb to Alpe d'Huez. Famous for its slate, minerals and peddlers, it is an Alpine resort where former slalom champion Fabienne Serrat and former Olympic snowboarding champion Isabelle Blanc come from.
Le Bourg-d'Oisans has hosted the Tour de France twenty times, with nineteen starts and only one finish (1966). In 2018, the peloton set off from the town towards Valencia, where Peter Sagan won.
Because of its location, Bourg d'Oisans is also the starting point for many gran fondo events, some of which are among the most popular in the world.

Écrins National Park
The Écrins National Park (91,800 ha), created in 1973, stretches between the towns of Gap (12 km as the crow flies), Briançon (13 km) and Grenoble (23 km). It is bounded by the valleys of the Romanche, the Guisane, the Durance and the Drac. It was in Oisans that the park project was born in 1913 with the purchase by the State of 4,000 hectares of mountain above Saint-Christophe-d'Oisans. The Écrins National Park is one of the ten French national parks and has been distinguished by the Council of Europe as a European High Mountain Park.

Km 154.2

LA GARDE-EN-OISANS (Pop: 70)

La Garde-en-Oisans has a particularly privileged location, exposure and environment above Bourg-d'Oisans, whose vast plain it dominates. A historic village cited since the early Middle Ages, the supposed residence of the "Guardian of the Dauphins" for centuries, La Garde-en-Oisans is today, by virtue of its slope and its environment, an exceptional European site for all cycling lovers... The village can claim ten of the twenty-one bends that lead to Alpe d'Huez. After a few kilometres of steep gradient, the difference in altitude becomes less severe as soon as you reach the bell tower of the Saint-Pierre church, a former priory in the Grandes Rousses Massif.

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