Tour de France, Stage 12 – Isère

Text read by Mary Peters

Geneviève cycles through mountains to show us some breathtaking landscapes.

Welcome to Grand Colombier you leave the Rhône Valley and discover the summit of Grand Colombier, which dominates the valley and Lake Bourget. The area is perfect for outdoor activities such as hiking and biking trails.

The Col de Grand Colombier (the pass) is one of the steepest passes in France. It is one of the major stages in the Tour de France. Coming from Bugey, the gradient is 20%.

This is the view from the top, looking down on the river Yenne and onto the village of Culoz.

Bugey has its own AOC wines. There are some 500 hectares of grapes that are used to make red and rosé wines. Activities include dog sledge rides in winter, snowshoe excursions, climbing.

In 1999, Bugey started to cultivate truffles. In the 19th century, the truffle rose could be found in the region. Now, a group of mushroom lovers began growing black truffles and selling them in a local truffle market.

Vercors Regional Nature Park

The Nature park straddles two Departments,  Drôme and Isère and covers 206.8 ha. It is an alpine landscape and the Grand Veymont rises to an altitude of 2,341 metres.

The park is rich with natural treasures, wild and stunning landscapes, limestone cliffs, deep gorges, chasms and caves. Green valleys, mountain pastures and forests.  All to impress the tourists and the locals.

In this exceptional area, you find diverse flora and fauna. Many animals live here, mammals, amphibians, reptiles and birds. Especially the Alpine ibex, like our friend here. Protected plant species and orchids also grow in this park.

Do outdoor activities in this park and if you are lucky, encounter some local wildlife.

The Route Napoléon is a 325 km long tourist road. It passes through pretty villages and scenic mountain countryside. Napoléon used this road to make his way from Elba back to Paris.

Château de Vizilles is full of history. It was important because the Assembly of the Three Orders of the Dauphiné met there on the 20th July 1788. It became known as the Assembly of Vizilles and was the first step in the events that led to the French Revolution in 1789. This castle was also the summer residence of the French Presidents from 1925 – 1960. Today it houses an interesting museum on French history.

La Tour du Pin is a town located between Lyon and Grenoble. It has been a strategic town since the Gallo Roman era because it is located on the Road connecting Lyon, Vienna and neighbouring Italy. Today, it is possible to admire many architectural remains that trace the entire history of the town.

Villard des Lans

This is a winter and summer sports resort located at the foot of the Grand Moucherolle in the Vercos Regional Nature Park. It is a popular family destination all year round. Many sports activities for children and adults. You can also go to the Heritage House to learn about life in the mountains.

Just a hop, skip and a jump and we will be in Grenoble. See you there.

Tour de France,Stage 11 – Lyon.

Text read by Mary Peters

Geneviève guides us through France’s second city.

Ah, you must set foot in one of the largest renaissance old quarters in Europe. Welcome to “Vieux Lyon”. At the end of the middle ages, Lyon had a thriving silk industry. During the 16th century, there were around 180 000 looms in Lyon! Merchant families from all over Europe settled here. These wealthy merchants built marvellous renaissance style houses. Today, about three hundred of these remain in the Saint-Jean, Saint Georges and Saint-Paules quarters. 

The demands of the silk industry required a network of renaissance passageways called “Traboules”. These underground paths in the Croix Rousse area (“The hill that works”) allowed silk workers to transport their merchandise quickly and easily to the Saône River. Today, there are around 40 which you can explore. The best place to start your adventure is around the Quai Fulchiron Rolland and the Rue des Trois Maries.

On “the hill that prays” is the famous “Fouvière Basilica”. It soars eighty-five metres and is thirty-five metres wide. Although built at the end of the 19th century, the architecture is a mixture of Byzantine, Gothic and Romanesque styles. It has four towers which are almost fifty metres high and represent the four Cardinal Virtues. 

The Basilica of Our Lady of Fourvière is made up of two superimposed churches. The first one, made entirely of Italian pink granite, Carrara marble, green onyx or ebony and ivory, has three superb domes with six stained glass windows that let the light in. Everything is supported by sixteen columns. There are eight chapels, each lit by glass windows as well as beautiful mosaic panels.

When you visit this church dedicated to the Virgin Mary, you can admire the altar. It shows the Holy Virgin freeing Adam and Eve from hell. There is the Virgin of Millefaut in the baroque style, the monumental red marble staircase of wisdom with the Statue of Wisdom which welcomes visitors.

North of the town centre is one of the largest urban parks in France, the “Parc de la Tëte d’Or”.  It is the foremost botanical garden in France with over 20,000 different plants. Go and look at the graceful 19th-century greenhouses! In spring, you can admire the international rose garden. For families with kids, the park is a must-do. There is also a zoo. On the “African Plains”, you can see zebras, lions and giraffes and other African fauna. 

The “Presqu’île” is a finger of land between the Rhône and Saône rivers. In the 18th century, engineers drained marshes and connected the island with dry land. The undertaking was huge and today you can enjoy 19th-century architecture, wide plazas, shops, cultural institutions, restaurants, cafes, bars, and nightclubs. The Lyon Opera House and the Town Hall are also located here. When you are hungry, choose a restaurant in the Rue Mercière.  

A Gallo-Roman theatre, the “Ancien Théâtre de Fourvière”, is on the left bank of the Saône River. It was rediscovered in the late 19th century and restored. Built two thousand years ago, it is still used in the summer months for the “Nuits de Fourvière” theatre festival. The modern Odeon theatre is next door.   

Cinemagoers should pay homage to the Lumière brothers. At the “Institut Lumière”, you can enjoy “moving pictures” (movies, documentaries, and cartoons). The main attraction is the lovely art nouveau mansion with its elegant rooms. It was built by the father of Louis and Auguste Lumière in 1899. You can study the ingenious creations from which we benefit today. It was the “cinematograph” which changed entertainment forever. 

You shouldn’t leave Lyon without exploring Lyon’s murals. There are around 100 large paintings on walls around the city. You can try to discover them by yourself. Or, book a private (and expensive) tour with a guide. But you can download an App onto your phone. Lyon’s original fresco is “The Canuts Mural”. It tells the history of the Croix-Rousse neighbourhood. 

The food market in “Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse” is named after one of France’s culinary giants. Do your food shopping and get a delicious Lyonnaise meal and also buy regional specialities to take home. 

Which leads us to “Lyonnaise Cuisine”. Lyon is the gastronomic capital of France. You should have a meal in a typical local restaurant, a “Bouchon” or go to a Michelin starred restaurant. In a Bouchon, chefs prepare meals usually eaten by workers. It is food “that sticks to your ribs”. Marinated deep-fried tripe, usually served with a garlic and herb sauce. Or the “Andouilette” which is a sausage made from tripe and cooked with onions. Do not worry, it is not all tripe! The “Coq au vin” is also traditional here. Recommended are Lyonnaise potatoes, which are sliced and pan-fried with onions and parsley. 

Lyon’s gastronomic reputation dates back to antiquity. The city, then called “Lugdunum” had a monopoly on the wine trade. It also boasted a famous chef named Septimanus! However, in Lyon, gastronomy was a woman’s responsibility, and the local cuisine owes much to the women known as the Mères Lyonnaises. They originally cooked in bourgeois families, but soon started their own restaurants. The city’s chefs give ample opportunities to discover everything from simple cooking to “haute cuisine”. 

Now, after so much city atmosphere, it is time to head back to the Alps. See you there! 

Do you have a comment?

En cliquant sur "Send", vous acceptez le fait que vos données inscrites ci-dessus seront utilisées par Frank Peters, Peters-Langues dans le but pour lequel ce formulaire a été mis en place. Aucune donnée ne sera utilisée dans un autre but, sans votre consentement éclairé, ni ne sera communiquée à un tiers. Vous pouvez à chaque instant demander l'accès, la modification ou la suppression de ces données en nous écrivant. /// Ich bin damit einverstanden, dass diese Website meine übermittelten Informationen speichert, damit sie auf meine Mitteilung antworten kann. /// I consent to having this website store my submitted information so they can respond to the exercise.

____________________________________________________

En cliquant sur "Send", vous acceptez le fait que vos données inscrites ci-dessus seront utilisées par Frank Peters, Peters-Langues dans le but pour lequel ce formulaire a été mis en place. Aucune donnée ne sera utilisée dans un autre but, sans votre consentement éclairé, ni ne sera communiquée à un tiers. Vous pouvez à chaque instant demander l'accès, la modification ou la suppression de ces données en nous écrivant. /// Ich bin damit einverstanden, dass diese Website meine übermittelten Informationen speichert, damit sie auf meine Mitteilung antworten kann. /// I consent to having this website store my submitted information so they can respond to the exercise.

Tour de France, Stage 10 – Clermont Ferrand

Text read by Mary Peters

On your way to Clermont Ferrand, do stop off in Sarran to look at the museum. On display are different items given to the former French President, Jacques Chirac. His wife, Bernadette, was the Mayor of this village, hence the museum in such a small hamlet. 

The whole region of the Auvergne is known for outdoor activities, including cycling, horse & donkey treks, waterboarding.

About 15 km from Clermont Ferrand is something called Vulcania Park. It is a site that is dedicated to learning all about volcanos. The exhibits help you understand the function of earthquakes and volcanos all over the world. The museum is constructed like a volcano and is in an old lava bed which is 30,000 years old. If you have the soul of an explorer, go, and discover this family-friendly place.  

Clermont Ferrand is the capital of the Auvergne. The Romanesque Basilica, Notre Dame du Port, is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The town has a cathedral and fountains made from lava stones. In the surrounding area of Clermont are many castles. The region is known for its chain of extinct volcanos, the Chaine de Puy.

The region also has quite a few lakes worth exploring. Le lac Chambon, Lac d’Aydat, Lac Pavin. Worth visiting is the Queuille bend of the Sioule river, with plenty of photography opportunities.   

Clermont Ferrand is also the birthplace of Blaise Pascal, a French philosopher and mathematician, born 1623 and died 1662. He was a child prodigy and greatly contributed to the theory of probability. He also invented an early version of the calculator called the Pascaline. 

Just to the north of Clermont is the town of Volvic which lends its name to the world-famous mineral water. It has still water not sparkling carbonated. Thick lava rocks filter the water. There is a museum dedicated to the history of the town. Fill your water bottle and cycle onwards. 

The town of Mont Dore is picturesque – good for the eyes and health. It is a spa town with plenty of fresh air and sports activities. 

In the middle of the “Parc Naturel regional des Volcans d’Auvergne” is the thermal station of Châtel-Guyon. The buildings are from the Belle Epoch period including the casino, theatre, and a beautiful park to wander around in. 

The spa treats rheumatism and digestive ailments. It is also known for its sophrology treatments which are very popular in France. It is one of many programmes available to “get back into shape” both physically and spiritually. To complete the package, there are many walks and cycling possibilities. 

You can plan your health rejuvenation to coincide with one of the many festivals that take place throughout the year. From April to December, you will always find something to celebrate. In early June, Jazz lovers flock to the Festival Jazz aux Sources which is like New Orleans jazz festivals. Why not dance in the streets to the rhythm of the blues?


Time to head further east, because now we are only 167 km away from France’s second city, Lyon.  

Do you have a comment?

En cliquant sur "Send", vous acceptez le fait que vos données inscrites ci-dessus seront utilisées par Frank Peters, Peters-Langues dans le but pour lequel ce formulaire a été mis en place. Aucune donnée ne sera utilisée dans un autre but, sans votre consentement éclairé, ni ne sera communiquée à un tiers. Vous pouvez à chaque instant demander l'accès, la modification ou la suppression de ces données en nous écrivant. /// Ich bin damit einverstanden, dass diese Website meine übermittelten Informationen speichert, damit sie auf meine Mitteilung antworten kann. /// I consent to having this website store my submitted information so they can respond to the exercise.
En cliquant sur "Send", vous acceptez le fait que vos données inscrites ci-dessus seront utilisées par Frank Peters, Peters-Langues dans le but pour lequel ce formulaire a été mis en place. Aucune donnée ne sera utilisée dans un autre but, sans votre consentement éclairé, ni ne sera communiquée à un tiers. Vous pouvez à chaque instant demander l'accès, la modification ou la suppression de ces données en nous écrivant. /// Ich bin damit einverstanden, dass diese Website meine übermittelten Informationen speichert, damit sie auf meine Mitteilung antworten kann. /// I consent to having this website store my submitted information so they can respond to the exercise.

Tour de France, Stage 9 – Poitiers

Text read by Mary Peters

Geneviève crosses the point from the past to the future.

We have left Charente-Maritime and La Rochelle and are now 137km further east in the city of Poitiers in the region of Aquitaine.

The town was founded by the Pictones, a Celtic tribe. It was an Oppidom (a Celtic fortification). When the Romans arrived, the town was renamed to Pictavium, which eventually became Pictavis and is now Poitiers. The town has grown continuously and while Poitiers itself has 88,000 inhabitants, over 250,000 people live in the surrounding urban areas.

The town has many sights, here are the most unusual. I would like to start with the cathedral “Saint-Pierre”. In the south transept is a treasure of Gothic art, the quality and size is unmatched in France. The pictures show us biblical scenes, saints, angels and the coronation of the Virgin. All are shown in the required colour code (or rules) of this epoch; very vivid blues, reds and greens using precious pigments.

If you visit Poitiers during summer, keep an evening free to watch the illumination of the Eglise Notre Dame La Grande. The façade of the church is shown in colours of the Middle Ages with a multicolour, musical spectacle.

The Saint Jean Baptistery is an old Gallo Roman building in which you can discover an old octagonal shaped baptismal pool. It was used until the 8th century. The building was converted into a church and is decorated with murals from the 11th to 13th centuries. You can also admire the Merovingian sarcophagi.

Twenty kilometres from Poitiers is the medieval city of Chauvigny, where you can experience some brilliant falconry. At the baronial Château des Évêques you can attend a bird spectacle. In the amphitheatre, you should admire the giant birds gliding over your head. New species join the growing family every year and a few of them have even taken part in movies.

Whilst you are there, try a very special mode of transport. The old railway line was transformed into a so-called velorail. The vehicle looks like a car without the chassis and you sit on comfortable seats and pedal as if you were on a bicycle. The wheels are small train wheels rolling on a railway track. During your almost 9km long velo-railing trip, you can admire the landscape and take in the fresh country air.

An hour away is La Roche-Posay and there are two things you can do here. One is focussed on your health, the other on your bank account. The medical cure of La Roche-Posay heals all your dermatological problems, a health cure for your skin. It is the leading centre in Europe and is also known for its selection of skincare products under the same name which is available in chemists.
 
Once your health has been restored, you can “have a flutter” in the casino. You are spoiled with a choice of entertainment. Enjoy dinner and cabaret in the “Salle de Cabaret”.  Lunch in the “Bistrot Gourmand” and, in between meals, try your luck either with the “one-armed bandits”, “slot machines” or “fruit machines” in the gambling halls or, if you want to spend an evening like James Bond, you can do that in the more traditional and elegant surroundings with roulette and blackjack etc. Should we add a note of caution to say that gambling can be addictive?

The Futuroscope

Poitiers is synonymous with the Futuroscope which is located 10km north of the city.  Here is a theme park with an emphasis on technological and scientific education. It was opened on May 31, 1987, but different attractions have been added almost every year. You have a choice of over 40 different attractions, not just for children of all ages, but also interesting for parents.  

Go on a time machine journey, experience a virtual reality racing simulator with local hero in the Alsace, Sebastian Loeb, walk along the cyber avenue and follow Thomas Pesquet, the first French astronaut who went to space, into the imagination pavilion in which you walk in total darkness and have to recognise objects by touching them. You can return to the ice age, watch a fabulous show presented by Canada’s famous Cirque du Soleil.  Why not “Dance with Robots” with Martin Solveig. In June 2020, the park opened its latest attraction, the Mars Objective which aims to inform people about future missions to Mars. There is really a lot to do and see, so my advice is just go in and have fun.

It’s time to cycle on. See you when I reach my next destination, the wider area around Clermont Ferrand.

Do you have a comment?

En cliquant sur "Send", vous acceptez le fait que vos données inscrites ci-dessus seront utilisées par Frank Peters, Peters-Langues dans le but pour lequel ce formulaire a été mis en place. Aucune donnée ne sera utilisée dans un autre but, sans votre consentement éclairé, ni ne sera communiquée à un tiers. Vous pouvez à chaque instant demander l'accès, la modification ou la suppression de ces données en nous écrivant. /// Ich bin damit einverstanden, dass diese Website meine übermittelten Informationen speichert, damit sie auf meine Mitteilung antworten kann. /// I consent to having this website store my submitted information so they can respond to the exercise.
En cliquant sur "Send", vous acceptez le fait que vos données inscrites ci-dessus seront utilisées par Frank Peters, Peters-Langues dans le but pour lequel ce formulaire a été mis en place. Aucune donnée ne sera utilisée dans un autre but, sans votre consentement éclairé, ni ne sera communiquée à un tiers. Vous pouvez à chaque instant demander l'accès, la modification ou la suppression de ces données en nous écrivant. /// Ich bin damit einverstanden, dass diese Website meine übermittelten Informationen speichert, damit sie auf meine Mitteilung antworten kann. /// I consent to having this website store my submitted information so they can respond to the exercise.