2022 Tour de France

See you on Thursday 14 October for the announcement of the route of the 2022 Tour de France.

On the road

DEPARTMENT OF ILLE-ET-VILAINE (35)

Population: 1.076 million, spread over 27 cantons and 333 communes.

Prefecture: Rennes (Pop : 216,815). 

Sub-prefectures: Fougères, Redon Saint-Malo. 

Specialities: Oysters from Cancale, Roellinger spices, AOP mussels from the Bay of Mont Saint-Michel, AOP salt-meadow lamb from the Bay of Mont Saint-Michel, Rennes cuckoo chickens, Janzé chickens, Bordier butter, Saint-Malo crackers, galette saucisse, Redon and chestnuts. The Lices market (2nd largest in France and one of the oldest). 

Personalities: Marquise de Sévigné, François-René de Chateaubriand (literature), René Duguay-Trouin, Robert Surcouf (privateers), Bertrand du Guesclin (knight), Jacques Cartier (navigator and explorer from Saint-Malo)... 

Sport: SRFC Rennes (football, Ligue 1), Cesson Rennes Métropole Handball (Les Irréductibles Cessonais, French Pro D2 Champions in 2009 and 2020). Events : Dinard International Showjumping(August), Route du Rhum (next edition in 2022), Rallycross in Lohéac RX (FIA world rallycross championship)... 

Tourist sites: Rennes, capital of Brittany and its parliament; the bay of Mont Saint-Michel (UNESCO world heritage site); the forest of Broceliande and the legends of King Arthur and Merlin the magician; Marches of Brittany and the medieval fortresses of Vitré and Fougères; the spectacular staircase of the eleven locks on the Ille-et-Rance canal at Hédé-Bazouges; Bécherel, city of books (Book Festival at Easter); the Rance, Vilaine and Couesnon valleys; the megalithic site of Saint-Just, 2nd in Brittany for the diversity of its monuments

Festivals: Quai des Bulles (comic book and projected image festival, October) and Étonnants Voyageurs (book and film festival) in Saint-Malo. Dinard Film Festival (British cinema). Transmusicales de Rennes, La Route du Rock, summer (August) and winter (February) collections. Yaouank (Breton music in Rennes).

Economy: 1st dairy department in France. Research and training: 71,542 students, i.e. 56% of Brittany. Businesses: 47.9% of establishments in services (source CCI 35 key figures 2019). The Rennes Metropolis has the French Tech label. Tourism: 4.32 million tourist nights in 2019 (hotels and open air hotels).

 

Websites and social networks: www.bretagne35.com/ / www.facebook.com/tourismehautebretagne / twitter.com/hautebretagne / www.ille-et-vilaine.fr / www.facebook.com/illeetvilaine / twitter.com/ille_et_vilaine / www.linkedin.com/company/département-ille-et-vilaine 

Ille-et-Vilaine has more than enough to surprise you! This Breton department, with its rich heritage, is located between land and sea, 1h30 by train from Paris. To the north, the Emerald Coast and the Bay of Mont-Saint-Michel, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, border the English Channel. In the midst of sumptuous landscapes nestle the prestigious seaside resorts of Saint-Briac, Saint-Lunaire, Dinard and Saint-Malo, the eternal corsair city. Facing Mont-Saint-Michel, Cancale, a remarkable site for its oysters, is a must, as is Dol de Bretagne for its heritage and Combourg, a city of romance dear to Chateaubriand.

To the east lie the Marches of Brittany with the medieval cities of Fougères and Vitré, labelled town of Art and History Fortresses, castles, narrow streets and half-timbered or porch houses... 

In the heart of the department is Rennes, the capital of Brittany and its emblematic parliament. The city is renowned for its rich cultural programme, the diversity of its heritage and the effervescence of its student life.

To the south, the Vilaine valley. From Rennes, the river draws landscapes of a rare beauty in the middle of small picturesque villages with streets full of history until Redon, crossroads of the waterways of the West. 

To the west, you enter the land of Broceliande, a land of legends. This is the mythical heart of Brittany, the kingdom of the imagination, of King Arthur and the Lady of the Lake, in the midst of a nature made up of moors, forests and deep valleys.Ille-et-Vilaine is also a generous gastronomy with its lively markets, local products and culinary events, not forgetting a great cultural and sporting dynamism around major events: the Etonnants Voyageurs festival, the Transmusicales and the Route du Rhum.

Bains-sur-Oust (Pop: 3,490)

La Roche du Theil

An outpost of a Roman fortified camp from the 1st century, the place of worship was created under the impetus of the monk Conwoïon in 845. From the 15th century until 1839, La Roche du Theil was a seigneurial property comprising chapels, farms and agricultural land. In 1839, the place became the property of the Congregation of Jesus and Mary and was devoted to evangelisation and the training of priests, "eudists", from 1850. The seminary of La Roche closed in 1959: the seminarians present were transferred to Ris-Orangis in the Paris region.

Today, La Roche du Theil is a guest house that still houses a small community of priests and nuns and welcomes a varied public all year round for spiritual stays.

Km 23.3

Guipry-Messac (Pop: 7,000)

Commune created on 1 January 2016 from the merger of the communes of Messac and Guipry. The vast territory of the new entity (nearly 92 km²) is crossed by the course of the Vilaine, which until then constituted the limit between the two villages. A port on the river developed in the Middle Ages with the transport and trade of salt from Guérande, before giving way to rail and road transport in the 20th century.

Castle of Champs

Foundation: early 17th century, by the Rosnyvinen family. 

Style: medieval

Characteristics: buildings surrounded by a moat. A large hall on the first floor; has 12 18th-century frescoes with a biblical theme.

Special feature: around 1710, the building was considerably enlarged using materials from the dismantling of the château de Lohéac. 

Classification: Historical Monument in 1966.

Manoir de l'Automobile (in Lohéac, 9 km)

One of the most beautiful museums in Europe dedicated to the history of the automobile.

In a 17th century manor house, 15,000 m2 of exhibition space houses more than 400 vehicles (including 30 horse-drawn carriages, 50 motorbikes and bicycles) of all types and nationalities, evoking a century of motoring.There is also a model area with 30 slide shows and more than 3,000 miniature cars of all makes and formulas, a starting grid for 18 Formula 1 cars, the engine chapel (an original presentation of the history of engines), a reconstructed garage and service station of yesteryear...

Lohéac car circuit

In addition to the Rallycross circuit, the site includes a 2.5 km fully asphalted track, a go-karting track, a 4x4 development area and offers quad courses. The Lohéac circuit is the oldest Rallycross circuit in France. From 1976 to 2012, it hosted a round of the French Rallycross Championship every year. The circuit has hosted the French round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship since the championship was created in 2014.

Km 36

Bain-de-Bretagne (Pop: 7,400)

Named after the owner of a Roman villa (farm), Balnus, who lived near a natural lake where fishing was already practiced. The town developed, taking advantage of its location on the Rennes-Nantes axis.

A small seigniory that prospered thanks to its agriculture and then its crafts (tanneries, mills), Bain-de-Bretagne has retained its position as a commercial town in the heart of the hilly countryside to the east of the Vilaine River.On the edge of a lake, the pond of Bain, also known as the pond of La Bornière, with a surface area of 35 hectares

Note the Bertaud Tower Mill, built in the 18th century. It was raised around 1840 to be equipped with the Berton wing system. This mill has been restored and produces organic wheat and buckwheat flour.

Born in 1839 in the commune, architect Arthur Regnault renovated or rebuilt in the neo-Byzantine style most of the churches we will pass on this stage. 

Km 56

Janzé (Pop: 8,400)

According to historians, this ancient commune got its name from its Roman occupation, with the term Janziacum. In the 19th century, Janzé experienced a period of expansion, notably with the sailcloth trade. In addition to hemp, the town also produced cereals, notably buckwheat, as well as apples for cider. Preserves many houses built in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The buildings are typical of the period, with a certain unity: in particular the use of brick and shale, partly extracted from a quarry located in Amanlis.

Km 60

Amanlis (Pop: 1,700)

Worth seeing in particular for its Saint-Martin-de-Tours church, built mainly in the 14th century on the foundations of a church dating from the 11th and 12th centuries. The chevet was built in 1625. The church was listed as a historical monument by decree of 21 February 1974. Another nearby church, the neo-Byzantine

Saint-Maximilien-Kolbe (19th century), is said to have been used as a set for a 1942 Nazi propaganda film entitled Battage du blé en Ukraine (Wheat Threshing in the Ukraine), for which comedian Raimu was the director.

Amanlis-born Frenchman Basile Decortès took part in the 1950 Tour de France.

Km 67

Châteaugiron (Pop: 10,000)

Includes the communes of Saint-Aubin-du-Pavail and Ossé which merged in January 2017. Nestled on a rocky promontory (Mount Giron), overlooking small streams winding through the countryside (the Yaigne and the Rimon), Châteaugiron was born at the beginning of the 11th century, when the feudal society of the Middle Ages was being established. In 1008, Alain III, the new Duke of Brittany, offered Anquetil, a knight from Normandy, land located in the parish of Noyal, near the Lords of Vitré and Fougères. Anquetil built a first castle there, made of wood, and died in 1039, leaving his lands to his eldest son Giron. The town developed around the castle from the 12th century. Numerous colourful half-timbered houses huddle around the high towers. The monks of the Saint-Mélaine abbey in Rennes established a priory there. An administrative centre, Châteaugiron became a commercial centre in the Middle Ages, famous for its weekly market, its three annual fairs and the trade in sailcloth, the Noyales.

Léon-Paul Ménard (1946-1993), born in Châteaugiron, professional cyclist, took part in the 1972 Tour de France. Between 1957 and 1973, the town was also the site of a post-Tour criterium which the greatest riders of the era won. 

Châteaugiron Castle 

Foundation: built in the 12th century, then renovated in the 15th century by Jean de Derval, one of the nine barons of Brittany.

Style: medieval fortress

Characteristics: four towers still stand, including the keep which dominates the town from the top of its 38 metres. 

Current use: the castle houses the Gourdel museum, dedicated to the sculptors Julien and Pierre Gourdel, who were originally from the town. A contemporary art centre is located in the castle chapel.

Classification: Historical Monument in 1931 and 1993.

Km 76

Noyal-sur-Vilaine (Pop : 6,500)

The seat of a seigniory from the 11th century, a rich priory survived until the Revolution. The essentially agricultural activity in a landscape of hedgerows was supplemented from the 17th to the 19th century by the manufacture of hemp-based sailcloth ("noyales"). During the second half of the 20th century, the town benefited from the growth of the Rennes conurbation. A business zone (logistics, food processing) developed near the expressway that extended the motorway from Vitré to Rennes.

Château du Bois Orcan 

Founded in the 15th century by Julien Thierry, Minister of Finance for Anne of Brittany.

Style: Breton medieval.

Characteristics: important collection of furniture and objects testifying to the art of living at the time of Duchess Anne. The estate also has a carefully reconstructed medieval garden. 

Current use: the estate houses a museum, the Athanor, dedicated to the contemporary sculptor Etienne Martin (1913-1995), a major figure in 20th century art. 

Classification: Historical Monument in 1987 / Remarkable garden

Km 87

Liffré (Pop: 4,500)

Populated since Gallo-Roman times, the town of Liffré was founded in the 12th century and became a favourite hunting ground for the Counts of Rennes and the Dukes of Brittany. Its economy developed around the forges, stone quarries and the forest.  The scene of a violent battle between the royalists and the republican troops in 1794, it then became calm again, even experiencing a significant demographic boom from the 1970s. Built in the first half of the 19th century, the Hôtel de Liffré still has a beautiful clock in its pediment. The building was erected on the site of the old town hall.

Km 94.2

La Bouëxière (Pop: 4,500)

Small medieval village dominated by its 12th century motte-and-bailey castle, with a 13th century circular keep, a 15th century priory church, a Romanesque bridge and typical houses of character.

In the town and the hamlets that dot the territory, other civil buildings are worth seeing, such as the 15th century Bertry castle, the 17th century Carrefour castle and the former seigniorial manor of La Bouëxière, the oldest parts of which date from the 12th century.

It has several protected natural areas with remarkable ecosystems. La Bouëxière is the birthplace of the Delamontagne brothers, Laurent and Patrick, who both played for Stade Rennais. Patrick has three caps for the French national team. 

It is also the town where Resistance fighter and minister Charles Tillon and his wife Raymonde, one of the first women elected to the National Assembly, lived. 

Km 105

Champeaux (Pop: 500) 

The commune of Champeaux is an ancient one, with evidence of human occupation from prehistoric times. However, it was not until the 15th century that it really developed, notably thanks to the foundation of the collegiate church of Sainte-Madeleine, listed in 1910. This Gothic church, dating from the 15th and 16th centuries, contains exceptional Renaissance furniture, in line with the funerary vocation intended by its founders, members of the House of Espinay de Bretagne. Champeaux became a marquisate in the 16th century and experienced the ups and downs of the Chouannerie at the end of the 18th century.Its château de l'Espinay.

Km 114

Vitré (Pop: 18,000)

Labelled as a Town of Art and History. Listed as one of the most beautiful detours in France.

"To see an entire Gothic town, complete and homogeneous, as some still remain, Nuremberg in Bavaria, Vitoria in Spain, or even smaller samples, provided they are well preserved, Vitré in Brittany, Nordhausen in Prussia. "Victor Hugo, in Notre-Dame de Paris.

Built around its castle, Vitré experienced a brilliant development from the 14th century onwards, based mainly on the international trade in hemp cloth (or canvas). It was one of the most active cities in Brittany. 

Its 16th century Notre-Dame church and more than 70 buildings in the town are listed as Historical Monuments, including many houses in the historical centre, the fortified town wall, the Saint-Nicolas monastery, etc. 

Vitré has hosted the Tour de France on four occasions, in 1985 for the start of a team time trial, then for three sprints, won by Mario Cippolini (1995), Marcel Wust (2000) and Robbie McEwen (2006). Vitré has also been the host town for the Route Adélie since 1996, which takes place in April and whose last winner in 2019 was Marc Sarreau.

Castle of Vitré  

Foundation: second half of the 11th century by Robert I of Vitré.

Styles: Romanesque fortress to which Gothic, Renaissance and neo-Gothic elements were added. 

Characteristics: when it was extended, it was built on a triangular plan. The entrance gatehouse is composed of two pepperpot towers.

Particularity: transformed into a prison in the 19th century, it then underwent a period of restoration.

Current use: the Saint-Laurent tower has become a museum, founded in 1877 by Arthur Lemoyne de la Borderie, a local scholar who was the first historian of Brittany.

Classification: Historical Monument since 1872

 

Château des Rochers Sévigné

Founded in the 15th century by the de Sévigné family.

Style: Gothic manor house.

Characteristics: built on an L-shaped plan with two towers. A French garden was then created in 1690 by André Le Nôtre. 

History: famous letter writer Madame de Sévigné (1626-1696), discovered this medieval Gothic-style residence the same year she married in 1644. She fell under its spell and stayed here 16 times until 1690, writing 297 letters, 262 of which were to her daughter, the Countess of Grignan, i.e. a quarter of her preserved work. 

Current destination: hosts a museum open to the public since 1884 and dedicated to the history of Madame de Sevigne.

Classification: Historical Monument in 1995.

Km 122

Balazé (Pop: 2,200)

Until the Revolution of 1789, Balazé was under the control of the Marquisate of Châtelet, which had the rights of justice and taxation. It is the town of Pierre Méhaignerie, former mayor of Vitré and Minister of Agriculture, Equipment and Justice minister between 1977 and 1995. 

Km 134

Dompierre-du-Chemin

Former commune that merged with Luitré-du-Chemin to form the new commune of Luitré-Dompierre in 2019. Part of the association of Dompierre de France, grouping 23 French communes whose name includes Dompierre. A different commune hosts the festival each year.

Saut de Roland (Roland Jump)

A natural area in the department characterised by steep quartz cliffs overlooking the Saint-Blaise stream. It has a climbing site listed by the French Mountain and Climbing Federation. 

According to legend, Roland, Charlemagne's nephew and prefect of the Marches of Brittany, claimed to cross the valley in a horse jump from the top of the cliff to the top of the opposite side. He successfully jumped across the valley twice, the first time in the name of God and the second time in the name of the Virgin. He tried to cross it a third time in the name of his Lady... unfortunately he fell to the bottom of the valley in a fatal fall.

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