08/29 > 09/20/2020

On the road


Population: 656,142
Prefecture: Clermont-Ferrand
Sub-prefectures: Ambert, Issoire, Riom, Thiers
Surface: 7 970 km2
Specialties: cheese (Bleu d'Auvergne, Fourme d'Ambert, Saint-Nectaire…), garlic of Billom, AOP wines of Auvergne (Chanturgue, Chateaugay, Boudes, Corent, Madargue), honey
Main sports clubs: ASM Clermont Auvergne (rugby union), Clermont Foot 63 (ligue 2), JA VCM Basket (Pro B)
Major events: Andros Trophy (motor racing), Mondial des Volcans (pétanque), Volvic cross-country, "Les Copains Cyfac" Gran Fondo, wheelchair table tennis French championships, Pole Vault All Star, BMX French championship, Mont-Dore climb (lotor racing)...
Festivals: international short film festival in Clermont-Ferrand, Europavox, Jazz en tête, Jazz aux sources in Châtel-Guyon, International Festival of World Dance and Music in Issoire, Coutellia in Thiers.
Tourist sites: Grand Site of Puy de Dôme, panoramic train, Puy de Sancy, Vulcania, Lemptégy, l’Aventure Michelin, archaeological Museum of the Battle of Gergovie, ASM Expérience, Departmental museum of ceramic in Lezoux, Cutlery Museum in Thiers and Richard de Bas Museum in Ambert, La Toinette Museum in Murat-le-Quaire, Château de Murol, vilspa towns (Royat, Le Mont-Dore, La Bourboule, Chateauneuf-les-Bains,Chatel-Guyon)…
Economy: tyres (Michelin), food industry (Limagrain, mineral waters), metallurgy, pharmaceutical industry, aeronautics, spas, tourism.
Websites and social networks:
www.puy-de-dome.fr / www.auvergne-destination-volcans.com

Km 7.5

Pont-du-Château (Pop: 11,440)

The old river port of Clermont-Ferrand has preserved a remarkable heritage of this vocation, such as the castle of the Montboissier Beaufort Canillac family (17th century), which became the town hall, its half-timbered houses of the 16th century, the church of Sainte-Martine or a museum dedicated to boating. It is the city of linguist Alain Rey, who gave his name to the municipal library.

Km 22

Ravel (730 hab.)

Château de Ravel
Feudal fortress under the Lord of Ravel (1171), then royal (Philip the Bold in 1283) who built the six towers. In 1294, Philip IV the Fair (1268-1314) offered Ravel to his adviser Pierre Flote (2nd half of the 13th century - 1302), future Chancellor of France (next page). The Estaing family inherited it and made the most important changes in the 17th and 18th centuries.
The castle has a medieval part, the 13th century keep, five old towers, one of which is octagonal, and, inside, the Hall of States, of Gothic architecture, decorated with 49 heraldic emblems dating back to the 13th century which are one of the oldest heraldic friezes in France.
60-m wide, the French garden consists of lawns delimited by four cross paths. In their centre, a circular basin and four huge and 300-year-old yews, cut into cones, with four stone benches. Facing the basin, a semi-circular stone staircase goes up to the unruly foliage of what was an English garden in the style of the 18th century.
The chateau hosted the filming of The Chorus (2003), by Christophe Barratier, a huge success in France with more than 8.5 million spectators.

Km 35

Courpière (Pop: 4,000)

In the heart of the Livradois-Forez natural park, Courpière has more than one attraction for heritage lovers with its listed La Barge castle, its 12th century Saint-Martin church, but also the Bellime manor, located at the entrance to the city, the Château des Rioux or the remains of the fortifications as well as half-timbered houses. Coco Chanel's mother was from Courpière, where the future queen of haute couture spent part of her childhood.  

Barge Castle
This listed castle stands in the heart of a country setting near a Roman road and a ford on the Dore. It has preserved part of its original moat and its terraces, dating from the Renaissance, surround it on three sides at the level of the first floor. They lead to a chapel lit by a series of remarkable stained-glass windows. This is where the Dore was crossed by travelers from via Agrippa. The original fortress was built in the 12th and 13th centuries, then transformed in the 16th century into a beautiful house to which were added terraced gardens composed of four hundred balusters, designed by Le Nôtre, and a chapel in the 18th century, whose stained glass windows have been recently restored. Possession of the La Barge family, the castle passed in 1711 to the Montmorin family. They considered demolishing the castle, considered too small, then finally decided to rejuvenate it. The four towers have kept their original roof. The colonnade supporting the balcony decorated with balusters dates from the Renaissance. The gardens are as remarkable as the chateau itself, always carefully maintained by the Montmorins.

Km 54.5

Olmet (Pop: 165)

Château de la Faye
It owes its name to the river beneath: the Faye
Built shortly after the feudal war between the Damas of `Couzan in Forez and the Meymont d'Olliergues of Auvergne at the end of the 12th and early 13th centuries.
The castle of La Faye has had several lives; military post, fortified house enlarged with towers before falling into ruins in the 19th century. It was abandoned for a long time. Since the end of the 1970s, the Provenchères family, heir to these lands since around 1723, has endeavored to restore them to their former glory, thanks to the association La Faye association created in 2001.

Km 68.5

Col du Béal (1,390 m)

The second category Col du Béal makes its Tour de France debut but is quite familiar to the peloton. In the 2014 Criterium du Dauphiné, Chris Froome and Alberto Contador battled fiercely for victory on it. In 2016, the Dauphiné came back on the slope for a stage win by Jesus Herrada in Chalmazel-Jeansagnière.

LOIRE (42)

Population : 761 997 hab.

Préfecture : Saint-Etienne

Sous-préfectures : Montbrison, Roanne

Superficie : 4 773 km2

Spécialités : râpée du Forez, barboton (viande), sarasson, fourme de Montbrison (fromages), andouille de Charlieu

Grands clubs sportifs : AS Saint-Etienne (football), Chorale Roanne Basket.

Grandes compétitions : la SaintéLyon (running raid nocturne), Grand Prix de la ville de Saint-Etienne (vélo)

Festivals : Fête du livre de Saint-Etienne, Biennale internationale du design, Fête de la Courge à Andrézieux, Festival BD’Art à Rive-de-Gier, Rhino Jazz à Saint-Chamond.

Sites touristiques : la Bâtie d’Urfé, l’abbaye de Charlieun le prieuré de Pommiers, parc zoologique de Saint-Martin-la-Plaine, station de ski de Chalmazel, musée d’art moderne de Saint-Étienne, musée des Verts, château de Bouthéon.

Economie : sidérurgie, mécanique, textile médical, optique, design, grande distribution (Casino).

Sites web / réseaux sociaux : www.loire.fr / www.loiretourisme.fr

Km 78

Chalmazel-Jeansagnière (Pop: 450)

The name Chalmazel appeared for the first time in 1214 in a document referring to a simple chapel as a place of worship. Lordship of Marcilly in the 13th century and Talaru, during the 19th century, the population of Chamazel increased and the town became a pleasant "climatic resort" and a winter sports resort. Tradition is still maintained through cattle breeding and quality dairy production, the village being in the Fourme AOC area.
Since January 1, 2016, Chalmazel has merged with neighbouring village Jeansagnière to become the first new town in Loire.
Chalmazel-Jeansagnière is also a ski resort, located between 1,100 m and 1,640 m. Alpine skiing with 12 km of pistes for all levels: Chalmazel celebrated its 80 years in 2015. The resort is busier in the winter but provides several summertime activities as well (via-ferrata, climbing, trail, mountain-biking, trekking, orientation running).
The resort held a stage of the Dauphiné in 2016, won by Spaniard Jesus Herrada.

Château de Chalmazel
The castle of Chalmazel stands in the middle of the village. Its construction began in 1231. This feudal castle is part of the domain of Forez and was used to control the road to Auvergne by Col du Béal. Medieval in appearance, it has preserved elements of the fortified house, but with all the successive modifications and additions made over the centuries: loopholes, base of the walls, keep, covered walkway with machicolations. It also has Renaissance elements: facade, interior courtyard, galleries, chapel. Now restored, it is open for visits and has guest rooms and reception rooms.

Km 87

Sauvain (Pop: 380)

And its Maison Suvagnarde, running and developing the Museum of Fourme and local traditions since 1968 while taking a major part in the cultural and touristic activity of Sauvain. A hundred volunteers in turn welcome individual visitors or groups all year round. A dozen exhibitions are visible on the 800 m2 of a traditional farm of Forez, on a 16th century site where former Paris prefect Louis Lépine used to live. Lépine gave his name to a famous invention contest in France.

Km 107

Montbrison (Pop: 15,640)

Former capital of the counts of Forez, this sub-prefecture of the Loire is also the locality with the most prestigious heritage of the department with 18 monuments listed as historical monuments.
The town is known for its cheese, Fourme de Montbrison, a blue-veined cheese preserved by an AOC since 1972 and a PDO since 2010. The Fourme de Montbrison is also on the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
Among the many personalities linked to Montbrison are the composer and conductor Pierre Boulez, the actress Muriel Robin or the anarchist Ravachol, guillotined in the city in 1892.
On the cycling front, it was in Montbrison that Benoît Faure, born in Saint-Marcellin-en-Forez 20 km away, died in 1980. La Souris (The Mouse), whose longevity was exceptional, participated in seven editions of the Tour de France between 1926 and 1935. The town was the starting point for a stage of the Dauphiné in 2018 (victory by Pascal Ackermann at Belleville).

Km 123

Montrond-les-Bains (Pop: 5,300)

The history of Montrond is linked to its medieval castle controlling the ford of the Loire between Auvergne, Bourgogne and Velay. Until the Revolution, the village of Meylieu-Montrond lived in the shade of the fortress, burnt down in 1793 by the revolutionaries. In 1969, the Association of Friends of the Old Castle began work to consolidate the site. The city has owned the castle since 1984, to turn the monument into a venue for animation and culture. The second development of the town dates from the end of the 19th century, when coal drilling led to the discovery of layers of highly mineralised water flowing at a temperature of 28 °. The Geyser's thermal spring, whose mineral qualities were quickly recognised, launched the hydro-mineral station of Montrond, which earned in 1938 the official particle of "les Bains". The new spa thrived until the interwar period and then gradually declined. In 1986 the municipality decided to revive the thermal activity and undertook a new drilling at 540 m, increasing the daily flow of water. The current thermal establishment was built in 1989: a century after the discovery of the first spring, Montrond-les-Bains rediscovered its vocation as a thermal city.
The city was three times the start of the Tour de l'Avenir, the last time in 2016.

Km 136

Chazelles-sur-Lyon (Pop : 5,360)

The small town in the Monts du Lyonnais has enjoyed several centuries of prosperity thanks to the fur felt headgear made from the hair of domestic rabbits and hare. According to legend felt hat making dates back to the Crusades. Historical sources, however, attest to the presence of hat makers in the 16th century. The middle of the 19th century marked the end of the small family workshops. The industrial era and mechanisation took over. At the start of the 20th century, Chazelles-sur-Lyon reached its peak and became the main city for the production of luxury felt hats in France (28 factories and 2,500 workers in 1930). Its reputation went far beyond national borders with brands such as Fléchet, France, Morreton. The evolution of post-war fashion dealt a fatal blow to this industry, whose last representative in Chazelles and in France closed its doors in 1997.

Hat museum
The Hat Museum opened its doors in 1983. Its creation followed the era of decline of the local multi-secular hat industry. It focuses on the conservation of the hat-making memory and the active safeguarding of a know-how. It is labeled Museum of France.

RHÔNE (69) 

Population: 1.882 million

Prefecture: Lyon

Sub-prefecture: Villefranche-sur-Saône

Surface: 3 249 km2

Specialties: saucisson of Lyon, rosette (sausage), cervelles de canut (cheese), tablier de sapeur (tripes), quenelles, grattons, onion soup, wines of  Beaujolais.

Major sport clubs: Olympique Lyonnais (football), Lyon Olympique Universitaire (LOU, rugby union), ASVEL Lyon- Villeurbanne (basketball)

Major events: Women’s World Cup, Run in Lyon

Festivals: Fête des lumières à Lyon (Festival of Lights), Nights of Fourvière in Lyon, Lyon biennal, Quais du polar in Lyon (crime bookfair).

Tourist sites: festival of lights, old Lyon, Croix-Rousse, vineyards of Beaujolais.

Economy: high tech, automobile (Berliet), chemicals, banking, universities, administrations, viticulture.

Websites and social networks: www.rhone.fr / www.rhonetourisme.com

Km 177.5

Francheville (Pop: 14,200) 

Bruissin Fort
Located on the highest point of Francheville, the fort is nestled in the heart of a 10-hectare wooded site. Built from 1878 to 1881, it is part of the Séré de Rivières system, called after its creator, also known as  "the Vauban of Revenge". The fort was an ammunition depot during the Second World War. It was acquired by the city of Francheville in 1979. A cultural site in 1989 with artists' workshops, the "Cité des Artistes", it is now a centre for contemporary art.

Km 179

Tassin-la-Demi-Lune (Pop: 19,500)

This commune of the metropolis of Lyon takes its name from its location at the half-moon crossing of royal roads. A clock is installed at this crossing. Inaugurated on April 5, 1908 in the presence of the future president of the Council Edouard Herriot, then mayor of Lyon, it was built from the plans of MM. Robert and Chollat, young Lyon architects and sculptor Pierre Devaux. It was renovated in 2003. In 2007, for the centenary of the laying of its first stone, the clock was inaugurated a second time in the presence of Gérard Collomb, mayor of Lyon. For tis centenary, the clock was listed as a historical monument.

Km 182.5

Écully (Pop: 18,500)

Renowned for its natural heritage (parks and gardens, Bois de Serres), Écully also retains an architectural heritage of the highest order, mainly inherited from the second part of the 19th century, when rich families of the Lyon silk industry built country houses. There are still lots of those large houses left in town, often looking like castles.

Km 193.5

Caluire-et-Cuire (Pop: 41,000)

Bordering on Lyon, the city is known for the arrest of French Resistance leader Jean Moulin, on June 21, 1943, in the house of Doctor Dugoujon located in the centre of the town, but also for being the birthplace of poet Jacques Roubaud.

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