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On the road

ILE DE FRANCE REGION

Departments: Essonne, Hauts-de-Seine, Paris, Seine-et-Marne, Seine-Saint-Denis, Val de Marne, Val d'Oise, Yvelines.
Population: 12.2 million
Prefecture: Paris
Area: 12,011 km2
Specialities: Paris ham, Paris mushrooms, Meaux and Melun brie, Coulommiers, Paris-Brest, Meaux mustard, Argenteuil asparagus, Gâtinaise hen, Houdan hen.
Sports clubs: Paris Saint-Germain, Paris FC, Red Star (football), Racing Club de France (Lagardère Paris Racing), Racing 92, Stade Français (rugby and omnisports), Paris Saint-Germain (handball), Ivry, Tremblay, Pontault-Combault (handball)
Competitions: finish of the Tour de France, French Open (tennis), VI Nations Championship (rugby union), 2024 Olympic Games, 2019 Women's Football World Cup, Paris-Bercy Tennis Masters. Racecourses (Auteuil, Longchamp, Saint-Cloud, Maisons-Laffitte, Vincennes)
Economy: first European region by its GDP. Tourism (Paris is the world's leading destination), administration, universities, shops and services, automobile, energy, research, luxury industry.
Festivals: Banlieues Bleues, Solidays, Rock en Seine, Fête de l'Humanité, Suresnes Cité Danse, Paris Plage, Fête des Loges, Foire du Trône.
Sights: Paris (Eiffel Tower, Notre-Dame, Arc de Triomphe, Louvre, Orsay, Orangerie, Quai Branly, Pompidou Centre), Saint-Denis Basilica, castles of Versailles, Fontainebleau, Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Vincennes, Vaux-le-Vicomte, Rambouillet Provins medieval town.
Website: www.iledefrance.fr

HAUTS-DE-SEINE (92)

Population: 1,624,357 (2019)
Prefecture : Nanterre
Subprefectures : Antony, Boulogne-Billancourt
Surface area: 176 km².
Specialities: honey from Levallois-Perret, vines from Suresnes.
Sport: Top 14 and Champions Cup with Racing 92 (rugby), Paris 92 (women's handball), Betclic Elite and Eurocup with Nanterre 92 (basketball), Betclic Elite and Eurocup, Boulogne 92 (rowing), BLR92 (foil), Metropolitans 92 (basketball), Traversée Hauts-de-Seine > Paris, Horse Days at Haras de Jardy. Cross du Figaro at the Domaine National de Saint-Cloud.
Heritage: Grande Arche de la Défense, Paris la Défense Arena, Seine Musicale in Boulogne, Figures Tower in Issy-les-Moulineaux, Mont-Valérien Memorial in Suresnes, Ile-Saint-Germain departmental park in Issy-les-Moulineaux, Ile-de-Monsieur departmental park in Sèvres.
Economy: La Défense business district (16,000 employees, 400 private companies, 20,000 , 17,000 students)
Festivals and cultural events: Chorus des Hauts-de-Seine Festival, La Défense Jazz Festival, Rock en Seine, Festival de l'Orangerie in Sceaux, Domaine départemental de Sceaux, Albert Kahn Museum, Domaine départemental de la Vallée-aux-Loups – Chateaubriand house, Saint-Cloud National Estate, La Malmaison National Estate, Sèvres Manufacture and Ceramics Museum, Rodin Museum in Meudon, Art and Design Trade Museum(Sèvres/Saint-Cloud)
Websites and social networks: www.hauts-de-seine.fr / @hautsdeseine.fr / www.facebook.com/hautsdeseine.ledepartement/

Km 0.1

Puteaux (Pop: 44,500)
Puteaux has a historic cycling club, the CSM, which organised the Paris-Auxerre race for a long time and which included Yves Hézard in its ranks. It is also the birthplace of Henri Sannier, who commented on the Tour de France for France Télévisions.

Church of Our Lady of Mercy
Built: 1523
Style: Renaissance
History: the abbot of Saint-Germain-des-Prés decided to build a chapel in Puteaux in 1509 at the request of the villagers. It was consecrated in 1523 by the Bishop of Paris. In the middle of the 16th century, it was adorned with stained-glass windows which were listed as Historical Monuments in 1886. Restored several times, it was abandoned in 1939, the stained-glass windows being transferred to the castle of Champs-sur-Marne.
Listing: Historical Monument since 1975.

Km 0.4

Suresnes (Pop: 48,500)
Linked to Paris by the bridge that bears its name, Suresnes was a centre of the aeronautical and then automobile industries after the industrial revolution. This industrial vocation made it a stronghold of the Communist Party and of the "red belt" of Paris. The development of western Paris has made it an active and residential town on the outskirts of the capital, renowned in particular for its Jean Vilar theatre, home to the Suresnes Cité Danses festival, among others. Among the celebrities living in Suresnes feature Sébastien Piquet, the voice of Radio Tour.
The starting point of Paris-Roubaix in 1919 and 1920, Suresnes also hosted the start of a stage of Paris-Nice in 1998.

Memorial of Fighting France
The Mémorial de la France combattante pays tribute to the French fighters and resistance fighters during the Second World War. It is located at the foot of the Mont Valérien fort, where the Germans shot a thousand resistance fighters during the war.

Km 0.5

Nanterre (96,000)
The prefecture of Hauts-de-Seine is the sixth most populous city in the Île-de-France region, after Paris, Boulogne-Billancourt, Saint-Denis, Argenteuil and Montreuil. A university town, Nanterre is home to the campus of the University of Paris-Nanterre, which has over 30,000 students.
Nanterre has hosted two stages of the Tour de France: a start in 1986 and a finish in 1992.

Sainte-Geneviève and Saint-Maurice Cathedral
Construction: 1924 to 1937
History: the church was entirely rebuilt between the wars on the initiative of Canon Jules Froidevaux, who wanted to endow the birthplace of Saint Genevieve with a pilgrimage basilica worthy of the saint. An ambitious iconographic programme was drawn up and led to the creation of a unique set of frescoes in the 1930s.
Listing: Historical Monument since 1975 (belltower), then 2010 (church).

Km 1.8

Rueil-Malmaison (Pop: 78,000)
The largest commune in Hauts-de-Seine, it is a small, rather posh residential town, but also very active (for example, it is home to the headquarters of the PSA-Peugeot-Citroën automobile group). Its castle was the property of Josephine de Beauharnais, the first wife of Napoleon Bonaparte, who spent a lot of time there before becoming Emperor.
Among the riders born in Rueil-Malmaison, Georges Ramoulux (1948 and 1949), Jean Baldassari (1950 and 1951) and Richard Podesta (1973) took part in the Tour de France.

Malmaison Castle
Construction: 17th to 19th centuries.
Styles: Renaissance, classical, Empire.
History: the castle became part of French history during the Directory period, when Josephine de Beauharnais, wife of Napoleon Bonaparte, bought it on April 21, 1799. Bonaparte took it over after the coup of 18 Brumaire. He asked architects Charles Percier and Pierre Fontaine to renovate and redecorate the building in line with current tastes. The château was even the heart of the French government (along with the Tuileries) during the Consulate and Napoleon stayed there regularly until 1804 before choosing the château de Saint-Cloud, more worthy of his new rank. He stayed there until his divorce from Josephine in 1809.
She died there in 1814. The château was then restored by a wealthy patron, Daniel Iffla, who bequeathed it to the State in 1904.
Current destination: Château de La Malmaison has been a Napoleonic museum since 1905 and is part of the Reunion of National Monuments, presenting the château in its restored state under the Consulate and the First Empire. It is one of the few places in France to present a homogeneous set of furniture from the Consulate.
Listings: Historical Monument and Remarkable Garden in 1991.

Km 5.5

Saint-Cloud (Pop: 30,000)
Saint-Cloud holds a special place in the history of cycling, as the first cycling road race was held in the town's park on May 31, 1868. It was won by British cyclist James Moore. It was also in Parc de Saint-Cloud, on the courts of Stade Français, that the French Open tennis tournament was held before the construction of the Roland-Garros stadium in 1928. Since 2003, the park has hosted the annual Rock en Seine festival, where the biggest names in this musical genre have performed. The park, which belongs to the French state, was once adjacent to the now defunct royal castle, which was the favourite residence of Napoleon Bonaparte. Its French gardens designed by Le Nôtre have been preserved.
The town is also known for its racecourse, opened in 1901.
Saint-Cloud is also the headquarters of the Dassault group, whose founder, Marcel Dassault, had his factories there.

YVELINES (78)

Population: 1,440,274
Prefecture : Versailles
Sub-prefectures: Rambouillet, Mantes-la-Jolie, Saint-Germain-en-Laye.
Area: 2,284.4 km2
Specialities: Paris-Brest cake, artisanal syrups, chocolates, Noyau de Poissy distillery, cheeses and yoghurts from the Coubertin farm (medal winners) or from Viltain, several breweries including La Volcelest in the Chevreuse valley, professional vineyard "La Bouche du Roi" in Davron, I-Grec yoghurts, biscuit and honey factory Les Deux Gourmands, more than 120 local producers and craftsmen
Sport: 1st sports department in Ile-de-France with nearly 400,000 members and 3,000 sports clubs. Start of Paris-Nice and of the last stage of the Tour de France, the Yvelines will be the host site for the 2024 Paris Olympic and Paralympic Games: track cycling (Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines National Velodrome), mountain biking (Elancourt hill), BMX (Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines National Velodrome), golf (National Golf Course in Guyancourt), equestrian events and modern pentathlon (Versailles Castle Garden).
Economy: the leading department in Ile-de-France in terms of private R&D, with nearly 40 research laboratories, including 8 international associates, and 17,500 researchers in many fields: automotive and mobility, aeronautics, aerospace, new technologies, biomedical and health, etc. Tourism (In 2019: 2.5 million hotel nights in 2019, 3.1 million tourists in the Yvelines, 823 million euros of tourist consumption generated in Paris and the Ile-de-France region by tourists who stayed mainly in the Yvelines)
Remarkable sites: Versailles Palace, Château de Rambouillet, Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Madame Elisabeth Estate in Versailles, Château de la Madeleine in Chevreuse, Château de Breteuil, Chevreuse Valley, French Vexin Park, Marly-le-Roi Royal estate, Villa Savoye in Poissy, Zola House in Médan, Maurice Ravel house and museum in Montfort-l'Amaury, Maurice Denis Museum in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, houses of Jean Monnet in Bazoches-sur-Guyonne and of Léon Blum in Jouy-en-Josas, Mantes-la-Jolie Collegiate Church, Poissy Collegiate Church, Thoiry Zoo, Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines Leisure Island in Trappes, France Miniature in Elancourt, Gally Farm in Saint-Cyr-l'Ecole, National Sheepfold in Rambouillet and Espace Rambouillet in Sonchamp.
Festivals: Yvelines Cinéma (August), Electric Park Festival (September, Chatou), Thoiry Lumières Sauvages Festival (from October, Thoiry), Pulsations Festival (September, Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines), Electrochic (March, Versailles Grand Parc), Maki festival (June, Carrières-sur-Seine), Jazz à toute heure (March), Fantaisies Musicales, Summer Opera (September), Ravel Days (October), Blues sur Seine (November)
Websites / FB / Twitter: https://www.yvelines.fr/

Km 10.7

La Celle-Saint-Cloud (Pop: 21,000)
It was in La Celle-Saint-Cloud that the legendary French cycling coach Paul Ruinart set up his training camp between 1933 and 1956.

Château de la Celle
Construction: 1748 to 1750
Style: classic
History: a former monastery, then an estate belonging to Marquise de Pompadour, remodelled and embellished over the centuries, as well as its park, which for a long time had a beautiful orangery, and was recently restored, Château de la Celle-Saint-Cloud has belonged to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs since 1951, which receives distinguished guests there. After kings Louis XV and Louis XVIII or Emperor Napoleon III, hosted by the successive owners, King Mohamed V of Morocco, Queen Elizabeth of England or Jackie Kennedy have been among the guests of the castle, where the independence of Morocco, peace agreements in Laos and Cambodia or more recently ceasefires in Libya or a summit of the G5 Sahel were discussed.
Listing: Historical Monument since 1978

Km 17.9

Noisy-le-Roi (Pop: 7,600)
In 2002, in order to maintain the cultural heritage left by the Impressionists in the Yvelines, Noisy-le-Roi, along with eight other communes along the Seine, Carrières-sur-Seine, Chatou, Croissy-sur-Seine, Bougival, Louveciennes, Marly-le-Roi, Le Port-Marly and Le Pecq, created the label and structure "Pays des Impressionnistes" (Land of Impresionnists). Noisy-le-Roi was notably painted by Alfred Sisley.

Km 21.4

Villepreux (Pop: 10,000)
Saint Vincent de Paul preached his first sermons here when he was tutor to the de Gondi family. The town has a beautiful heritage of old houses such as Maison Saint-Vincent, the second house of the Daughters of Charity founded by Saint Vincent de Paul, which has become a space for exhibitions and conferences, or the Domaine de Grand'Maisons, a listed 18th century castle transformed into a hotel for receptions, weddings and banquets.
Villepreux was the destination of the Villepreux Royal Alley, designed by Le Nôtre and linking the Versailles Palace to Saint-Cyr-l'École, Fontenay-le-Fleury, Rennemoulin and Villepreux. Left to decay, the avenue, which ran through the king's hunting grounds, is the subject of a major rehabilitation programme.

Château de Villepreux
Built: 1598
Style: classic
History: the Francini family built the hotel that later became the castle of the Villepreux seigneury. The Francinis were the fountain builders of the kings, the two brothers, Thomas and Alexander, being very talented water engineers. From 1661 onwards, they devoted themselves to the Versailles Palace. The Francinis became the magicians of the park of Versailles, thanks to the variety and profusion of the water entertainments they designed. In 1768, François-Honoré, the last of the Francinis sold the seigneury of Villepreux to Louis XV. François Heurtier, architect of the royal buildings, bought the château from Louis XVI in 1788. He was a town councillor of Villepreux and it was he who, in 1789, brought the commune's list of grievances to Versailles. After the revolution, the Merlins, owners of the Grand Maisons farm, acquired Château de Villepreux. The most famous farmers of Grand Maisons were the Barbés, who cultivated the farm for almost two centuries.
Current use: the estate is a venue for receptions and seminars.
Listing: Historical Monument since 1970.

Km 24.7

Fontenay-le-Fleury (Pop: 13,500)

Château de Ternay
Construction: from the 15th century. 19th century.
Style: Directory.
History: the castle of Ternay is cited in 1482 on the registers of Villepreux. This property was modified in the 19th century in Directory style. Sacha Guitry lived there from 1937 until his death in 1957. An illustrious actor, playwright and film director, Sacha Guitry, who decided to make the Ternay estate his second home, was very attached to the town of Fontenay-le-Fleury. On July 4 and 5, 1939, he celebrated his marriage to French actress Geneviève de Séreville at the Saint Germain de Fontenay-le-Fleury church.
Current use: Château de Ternay is now a private property.

Km 25.5

Bois-d'Arcy (Pop: 15,300)
In 2017, Bois-d'Arcy was the start and finish of the first stage of Paris-Nice, won by Arnaud Démare.

Km 28.3

Saint-Cyr-l'Ecole (Pop: 18,800)
The Lycée militaire de Saint-Cyr is one of the six lycées de la Défense (former military high schools) of the French Ministry of the Armed Forces, located in the commune of Saint-Cyr-l'École. The buildings of the lycée have a particularly rich historical past: it was preceded by the Maison royale de Saint-Louis, the Military Prytaneum and the École spéciale militaire. The mottos of the school are "Rather die" and "The true school of command is therefore general culture".
Saint-Cyr-L'École hosted the first stage of Paris-Nice in 2021, won by Irishman Sam Bennett. The town was also home to the Aeronautical Institute where Bernard Hinault worked on his aerodynamics in the 1980s under the guidance of Professor Ménard.

Military High School Museum
The history of the Lycée Militaire of Saint-Cyr is a long one. Housed in the former Pavilion of Archives, the Museum traces the history of the school since its creation by Madame de Maintenon, wife of Louis XIV. At the time, the school's objective was to educate young noble girls who were not wealthy. The site later became a military hospital and then a prytaneum before being converted into a special imperial military school, a college and finally a military high school in 1983.

Km 33.4

Versailles (Pop: 86,000)
The prefecture of Yvelines owes its reputation above all to its palace, undoubtedly one of the best known in the world. It is still in Versailles that deputies and senators meet in congress at the palace to ratify any modification of the Constitution. Located 17 km from Paris, the town is mainly residential and touristy, but has a good university infrastructure.
Louis XIV, the Sun King, imagined the destiny of Versailles and its castle with the highest ambitions. His primordial role in the history of France is also accompanied by an ongoing relationship with the Tour, which set off from the château in 2013 for the final stage of its hundredth edition.
In 1989, an individual time trial from Versailles became a historical battle between Laurent Fignon and Greg LeMond. The time trial to the Champs-Élysées ended with the tightest final gap in the Tour history: eight seconds for the American in the GC.
Previously, the royal city had been the starting point of the final time trial of the Tour de France eight times, and had seen Jacques Anquetil, Felice Gimondi, Eddy Merckx or Luis Ocana seal their Tour victories.

The Palace
Construction: 17th century
Style: classic
History: the former hunting lodge of Louis XIII was transformed and enlarged by his son Louis XIV who installed the Court and the government of France there in 1682. Until the French Revolution, the kings succeeded one another, each in turn embellishing the palace. The Hall of Mirrors, the King's Apartments, the Museum of the History of France: over the centuries, the Palace of Versailles, the seat of power until 1789, has never ceased to develop.
Features: The Palace of Versailles is one of the finest achievements of French art in the 17th century. In the 1670s, Louis XIV had the Grand Apartments of the King and Queen fitted out. The most emblematic achievement of these spaces, places of parade and reception par excellence, remains the Hall of Mirrors designed by Mansart. In the following century, the extensions continued, notably with the construction of the Chapel and the Opera House. The château now has 63,154 m2 divided into 2,300 rooms. Although the palace lost its vocation as the official seat of power in 1789, in the 19th century it had a new destiny: to become the Museum of the History of France, as desired by Louis-Philippe, who came to the throne in 1830. Many of the rooms in the château were then used to house the new collections retracing the great events of French history, which were added to until the beginning of the 20th century.
Listings: Historical Monument since 1862, then 1906 and 1964 / Unesco World Heritage in 1979.

Grand Trianon
Built: 1687
Style: classic
Characteristics: The Grand Trianon was built by Jules Hardouin Mansart in 1687 on the site of the "Trianon de Porcelaine", which Louis XIV had built in 1670 to escape the splendour of the Court and to shelter his love affair with Madam de Montespan. The Grand Trianon is without doubt the most refined group of buildings in the entire Versailles estate. It is a "small palace of pink marble and porphyry with delightful gardens" according to Mansart's description, who followed to the letter the instructions of Louis XIV, who was very involved in the construction. Very influenced by Italian architecture, this palace is on a single level. Renowned for its formal, ordered and geometric gardens, the "Marble Trianon" was surrounded by tens of thousands of perennial and tuberous plants from the time of its construction.
Listings: Historical Monument since 1862 / Unesco World Heritage in 1979.

Marie-Antoinette's estate
From the Petit Trianon to the Queen's gardens, via the Hamlet, the Estate, opened in 2006, reveals all the intimacy of Marie-Antoinette. The wife of Louis XVI loved to find in these places the pleasures of a simple and rural life, far from the splendour of Versailles. She is the only queen who imposed her personal taste on Versailles, flouting the old court and its traditions to live as she wished. In her estate of Trianon, given to her by Louis XVI in 1774, she found a haven of intimacy that allowed her to escape from etiquette. No one could enter without her invitation.

Km 38.9

Chaville (Pop: 20,320)
Chaville is known to cycling fans for having hosted the Paris-Tours classic for nine years, between 1979 and 1987, then renamed Blois-Chaville, then Créteil-Chaville. Joop Zoetemelk, Sean Kelly and Phil Anderson were among the winners in Chaville.

Km 40.7

Sèvres (Pop: 23,250)
The city of ceramics hosted the last stage of the 2015 Tour de France, won on the Champs-Élysées by André Greipel.

Km 41.2

Meudon (Pop: 45,300)
Meudon developed around the church dedicated to Saint Martin. Meldun became Melodunum, then Meudon at the foot of the castle that dominated the village. From the 16th century, a vast pleasure house replaced the fortified building and was the home of the love affairs of King Francis I and his mistress Anne de Pisseleu. In the 17th century, Abel Servien, Superintendent of Finances, and the Marquis de Louvois, Minister of War, designed the park that André Le Nôtre set up. Meudon was now worthy of royal favour. The Grand Dauphin, Louis XIV's eldest son, acquired it after Louvois' death. He set up his court there and built the Château Neuf on the plans of Jules Hardouin-Mansart. The death of the Grand Dauphin in 1710 marked the beginning of the inexorable decline of the estate.
The 19th century was a time of change for Meudon. The Observatory gazed at the stars, the Office of Inventions tracked down technical innovations, Captain Charles Renard made the world's first closed circuit flight in the airship La France at Hangar Y and Marcellin Berthelot discovered the secrets of plant chemistry. Artists work in silence, Auguste Rodin brings beauty out of matter, Isadora Duncan dances, Richard Wagner composes the Phantom Ship while painters tirelessly paint the bucolic landscapes of the Seine.
In the 20th century, Meudon-la-Forêt emerged from the wheat fields, Renault colonised the Ile Seguin before high technology replaced the assembly lines on the banks of the Seine. Artists continued their quest, Jean Arp invented abstract art, Alberto Magnelli assembled colours and shapes, Marcel Dupré improvised, Céline cried out his despair while François Stahly sculpted monumental fountains. The great architects were not to be outdone and made Meudon a laboratory: Prouvé, André Bloc, Van Doesburg.
In 1986, the town hosted the start of a team time trial. In 2018, Arnaud Démare won the first stage of Paris-Nice, which started in Chatou.

Km 44

Issy-les-Moulineaux (Pop: 68,000)
The town of Issy-les-Moulineaux is best known to Tour de France followers for having housed the headquarters of the Tour's organising company, Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), before it moved to Boulogne-Billancourt. The newspaper l'Equipe and many of the media accredited to the Tour de France have had their offices in the city, notably in the Val de Seine basin, a huge office complex dedicated to the media and new technologies. The city has a real cycling past: its Palais des Sports is named after Robert Charpentier, a local boy who was Olympic road champion in 1936 ahead of Guy Lapébie. Charpentier took part in the 1947 Tour, but the war had deprived him of a pro career to match his amateur career. Issy-les-Moulineaux is also the town of Thierry Adam, who was for a long time a commentator of the Tour on France Télévisions.
The town, which resulted from the merger of the villages of Issy and Moulineaux, was also a stronghold of aviation in its early days, as indicated by several streets and places (Guynemer, Voisin) dedicated to the mad flyers.

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