Le Tour 2004 - A Virtual Cultural Trip

Reply Wed 21 Jul, 2004 06:58 pm
I can see why tourism is a mainstay, Annecy is very beautiful.
0 Replies
Walter Hinteler
Reply Thu 22 Jul, 2004 01:38 pm
Friday, July 23th

Stage 18
Annemasse > Lons-le-Saunier




In the Gallo-Roman times, Annemasse was a small city known as Namasce. Its population probably never exceded 1,000. The geographical location of Annemasse explains its very slow development in ancient history. Annemasse is located in an open area, without any natural defense. Moreover, it lies on the border of the former possessions of the Republic of Geneva and the Duchy of Savoy, which were in constant struggle until the disaster of l'Escalade (1601).

In 1801, the official census yielded only 800 inhabitants and Annemasse was mostly providing agricultural products to the neighbouring city of Geneva.
The modern development of Annemasse started in 1880 with the building of the railway line between Bellegarde-sur-Valserine and Evian-les-Bains and its branch towards Annecy and Saint-Gervais. Industrialization of the area started, although it was not favoured by the specific system of the Greater Tax-free Zone (Grande Zone Franche) set up in 1860 after the incorporation of Savoy to France. This system made of Geneva the economical capital city of the north of Savoy, and was imposed because of the pro-Swiss feelings of the inhabitants of that area.
In 1911, Annemasse had only 3,000 inhabitants but the urban area was increased and structured. The Greater Tax-free Zone was suppressed at the end of the Second World War. Annemasse attracted then a lot of people of various origins. The Genevans set up shops and factories in Annemasse in order to keep their French customers. Cutting and mechanical engineering industries flourished.


During the Second World War, the Italian and then German occupation caused the definitive separation with Geneva and Genevans withdrew from the city. War refugees came to Annemasse, as well as clockmakers from the French Jura.

From 1950, the development of Annemasse was completely linked with Geneva. There were 8,800 inhabitants in 1946 and 29,000 in 1990. The neigbouring cities followed the same pattern of increase. Until 1962-1965, Geneva massively attracted French workers, who were replaced in Annemasse by immigrant workers. Economical crisis in Switzerland caused a massive come-back of people to Annemasse in 1974-1978. In 1982, economical activity resumed in Geneva and the flow was inverted, with a pause in the 1990s. However, real-estate speculation and attraction by Geneva made it difficult to maintain industrial activity in Annemasse. This loss is more than compensated by an increased activity in commerce and service industries.

Annemasse and the neighbouring municipalities (including Etrembières) have now more than 60,000 inhabitants and consitutes the second largest urban area in the department of Haute-Savoie.


NB: have a look at the various parks in this floral city:




town, capital of Jura département, Franche-Comté région, eastern France, south-southeast of Dijon. Located at 846 feet (258 m) above sea level in the valley of the Solvan, it is surrounded by vine-clad hills. It is a pleasant spa, owing its original Roman name, Salinarius, to the local salt mines. It manufactures optical instruments, cheese, and sparkling wines. The Church of Saint-Désiré has an 11th-century crypt.


On the avenue called the Promenade de la Chevalerie there is a statue by Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi, the 19th-century French sculptor (who designed the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor), of Rouget de Lisle, a native of the town, who composed the French national anthem, "La Marseillaise." The museum in the Hôtel de Ville has a collection of the composer's songs.

0 Replies
Walter Hinteler
Reply Thu 22 Jul, 2004 02:06 pm
The Haut-Jura Regional Nature Park


Located between the Ain Valley and the ridges of the Monts Jura overlooking Geneva, the park is in the most rugged part of the Jurassian massif. The Haut-Jura that Julius Caesar called the "wooded mountain" during his conquest of Gaul, owes its name to the "joux," dark forests with different shadings of blue. Forests of oak, hornbeam, beech and other hardwoods as well as willow and alder groves dominate up to an elevation of 650 m. The next level, where the beech dominates, is just a step before the magnificent mountain stage of spruce, beech, pine and maple woods. Higher up, in the sparser sub-alpine forests, the realm of grouse and Tengmalm's owl, the majestic spruce bends its branches to shrug off the weight of the snow. Lynx, which migrated from Switzerland in the 1980s, have now populated the entire park.



Saint Claude,
the capital of pipe making and diamond cutting, is located in the heart of the Haut-Jura Natural Park, where the Bienne and Tacon rivers meet. Saint Claude is the ideal environment for summer as well as winter activities. As the main city of the ski area of Hautes Combes du Jura and close to the ski resort of Les Rousses, it provides both cross-country and downhill skiing. Saint Claude is a good departure point to discover the Jura Mountains.
The skillful craftsmen keep the tradition of their work alive and some even open their workshop doors to the public (pipe-making, sculpture on pipe, artisanal diamond-cutting...).




And then, there is of cause:




0 Replies
Walter Hinteler
Reply Fri 23 Jul, 2004 01:13 pm
Saturday, July 24th

Stage 19 - Individual Time Trial
Besançon > Besançon



Gallis Besanson/Germanis Byzantz - Braun and Hogenberg, First published in the 1572 edition of Munster's Cosmographia

city, capital of Doubs département, Franche-Comté région, eastern France. It lies astride a horseshoe meander of the Doubs River, 45 miles (75 km) east of Dijon. It early became the chief town (Vesontio) of the Sequani Gauls and in 58 BC was taken by Julius Caesar. Besançon became the seat of an archbishopric in the 2nd century, and its prelates eventually acquired considerable temporal power. In 1184 the Holy Roman emperor Frederick Barbarossa made it a free imperial city. During the 14th century it fell to the dukes of Burgundy, from whom it passed to the Habsburg emperor Maximilian I through his marriage to Mary of Burgundy. During the ensuing period of Austro-Spanish domination (1477-1674), Besançon became prosperous and superseded Dole as the virtual capital of the region of Franche-Comté. The town became an object of dispute between Spain and France and was finally ceded to Louis XIV of France in 1674.
Besançon formally became the capital of Franche-Comté province in 1676, at which time the regional parliament, university, and mint were transferred there from Dole. The town was fortified by the great French military engineer Sébastien le Prestre de Vauban, and the citadel he designed still stands 387 feet (118 m) high on a rock behind the town, on the site of the former Roman castrum. Besançon was bombarded by the Austrians in 1814 and was damaged by the Germans in World War II.

The Roman remains at Besançon include a triumphal arch (Porte Noire), a theatre or amphitheatre, and an aqueduct. In addition, one of the modern bridges spanning the Doubs incorporates part of a Roman bridge. The city's Cathedral of Saint-Jean has been reconstructed several times since its founding in the 4th century. The Palais Granvelle (1534-40) occupies an arcaded courtyard in the centre of town. The Grande Rue is the city's main street, with many notable buildings; Victor Hugo was born at No. 140. The old city is separated from newer residential and industrial districts by a main road. The Doubs River is bordered by fine quays and shady promenades as it winds around three sides of the city. Besançon's industrial suburbs lie across the river to the north.


The watch- and clockmaking trades were introduced to Besançon by Swiss refugees in the late 18th century, and the city is still France's chief centre for these industries. Textile and leather works are also located in Besançon, which is the capital of the Franche-Comté economic-planning region.



0 Replies
Walter Hinteler
Reply Fri 23 Jul, 2004 01:36 pm
Between the the arrival town of the last stage, Lons-le-Saunier, and Besançon are some nice places, too:

Baume-les-Messieurs (close to Lons)
combines the simplicity of village life to the sense of spirituality of its abbey that inspired the Cluny order, the most influential one of medieval Europe


Tourists tend to come to the Jura for the lakes, the mountains and the summer sunshine rather than for history or architecture. Tourist sites are few and far between, and are relatively unspoilt. They are never terribly busy, even in summer, although you must assume that most of the people there are visitors, not residents.
One of the few tourism honeyspots in the south of the Département is the tiny village of Baume-les-Messieurs. This sits just to the east of Lons in a dramatic gorge, le Cirque de Baume. There are several of these gorges along the ridge between Lons and Pontarlier, but Baume is in the deepest and grandest. Roads descend to it at crazy angles, doubling back and forth before reaching the valley floor beside a mountain river. Honey coloured cottages with stone slab roofs, a mill, farmhouses and a vinery are as pretty as a postcard. But even in the height of summer, the sun has descended behind the ridge by 4pm. Who on earth would want to build a village here, and why?

Visiting France from England, there is a tendency to think of the Jura as being out on the edge. But civilisation did not come from England; it came from Rome.

The missionaries that headed north from the Holy City in the 6th and 7th centuries established monasteries - or more properly minsters, to spread the gospel in the surrounding villages. But increasingly these institutions became more complex, and took on other functions. They also had to be self-sustaining, and this created an introspection that led to contemplation being as important as evangelisation. For contemplative orders, removal from the everyday world became more important than immersion in it. They sought solitude. As they headed north, they reached the Alps, always a barrier except for those determined enough to cross it. Beyond the Alps, they came into a strange, lightly-populated land of meadows and forests. This was the Jura, and in this distant land, remote from Rome and the world, they settled. They really were out on the edge.

Here in the Cirque de Baume was established one of the great abbeys of the Middle Ages.

The abbey is first mentioned as a new cell of the convent of Chateau-Chalon in 869. I had thought the village name meant 'balm', which would have been lovely, but in fact the place was known as 'Balma', or 'grotto' in Old French. In 890 it was given to the abbey at Gigny, and in the course of the next half century two key events shaped its history. Firstly, a new abbot of Gigny developed the rule of St Benedict that he had learned at the monastery in Autun. Secondly, this rule began to spread widely in the west after the foundation of the nearby abbey of Cluny in 909. Baume's future as a Benedictine foundation was sealed.

In the 11th and 12th centuries, the buildings here today began to take shape. The great abbey church of St Peter was built in the second half of the 11th century in almost exactly the form we see now - only the east end is later. The Abbey buildings began to form the two great courtyards to the south of the church. A massive building programme at the start of the 13th century made it the glorious amalgam we have today. Much of this was the work of the abbot Aimé de Chalon, who is buried in a grand tomb in the north transept.

In the middle of the 18th century, the Order was secularised, and a great reconstruction took place - it was at this point that the cloisters were lost. In 1791 the church was given parish status, and the last monks left.

Today, you walk into the abbey through the main gate. There is no charge; if you want to spend some money though, the second-hand bookshop at the gate is splendid. I finally found the Pierre Lacroix book I had been hunting for nearly two years. Ahead of you, an archway leads into the main abbey buildings, but you will first want to turn left and up the slope to the west door to the abbey church.

SImilar in scale to the more famous Fontevraud and Vezelay, the abbey church here is amazingly complete for one simple reason; at the secularisation of the monastery, Baume abbey church became the new parish church of the village. The old parish church has also survived, becoming a cemetery chapel. You step into a vast, cathedral-like nave; baroque altars flank the entrance, reminding you that in the 17th and 18th centuries this was one of the few places in the Jura with money.

There are none of the grand capitals you might expect if you have visited Autun or Vezelay. There is none of the white light that infuses those two buildings. Instead, the arcades are low, the thin clerestory windows doing little to lighten the vaulting. There is something primitive and earthy about all this bare stone. At the crossing, you step into a lighter space, because the 13th century chancel is higher than the nave, and the open 15th century apse is full of glass. Ahead of you is a glorious Flemish altar piece, which unfortunately you can only approach if a guided tour is running. In the north transept is a huge Easter Sepulchre, rather dramatically filled with 18th century statuary, and behind the grill to the east of it the tomb of Aimé de Chalon. Look also at the 15th century statue of St Michael here - he has an abbot sitting on his shoulder.

You can explore the other Abbey buildings by going back out of the west door, or by using the door in the south transept. Note how the vaulting of all the cloisters has been destroyed; only the springing remains. This appears to have been done to enlarge the squares, possibly so that temporary buildings could be built against the walls. The squares have become squares of the village, their fountains similar to those in the villages around, although there are now no brown cows here. The buildings of the Abbey have become houses and offices, although in a corridor connecting the two main squares you will find a pretty little chapel, now used by the parish for daily worship.

If you have no tight schedule to keep to, wander on foot to the north of the village, where away from the houses but among the vineyards you will find the old parish church of St John the Baptist.

0 Replies
Walter Hinteler
Reply Fri 23 Jul, 2004 01:57 pm

The town lies in the valley of the Glantine at the base of a hill crowned by the ruins of the old castle of Grimont, once the repository of the archives of the county of Burgundy. The church of Monti-villard, its most remarkable building, dates in the oldest portions, from the 12th century, its chief features being a Romanesque tower and reredos of the Renaissance period. Amongst the other old buildings of the town, the church of St Hippolyte, of the first half of the 15th century, and a convent-church serving as corn market are of some interest.


the city has a deserved reputation for ancien houses and towers that have been preserved and it's "the capital of vine" in Jura


Pasteur spent his childhood from 1830 to 1839 here


0 Replies
Walter Hinteler
Reply Sat 24 Jul, 2004 10:14 am
Sunday, July 25th

Stage 20
Montereau > Paris (Champs Élysées)



Located 80 kilometres from Paris, Montereau is the meeting point between the Ile-de-France, Bourgogne, Champagne and Centre regions. Its history is rich and its heritage dates back to the Gallo-Romans, and it won renown for its faience industry. This is a land where nature plays its part, and Montereau is a creator of champions, since many high-level sportsmen have reached national ranking, whether in wrestling or athletics, handball or basketball. The cycle race, a celebration of sports, the "Foulées Monterelaises" breathes energy into the town, which this year welcomes the Tour de France with a winning flourish!




In 2003, the centenary year of the Tour de France, Paris was showered with honours, given the title of departure town and arrival town, and giving full meaning to the expression "the Big Loop", which has entered into the vocabulary of the followers. The Centenary Parade, evoking a poignant national history in parallel to that of the Tour, remains etched in all our memories. In 2004, the Champs-Elysées will once again welcome the arrival of the final stage, after which the prizes and titles will be awarded on the podium to these fabulous champions: stars rub shoulders with history...



0 Replies
Walter Hinteler
Reply Sat 24 Jul, 2004 10:39 am
One of my personal favourite places is the

St. Martin Canal
(10th arrondissement)


[URL=http://www.pariswater.com/walks/canal/canal.htm][size=18][b]A virtual walk along the canal ... online[/b][/size][/URL]


Alfred Sisley (1839 - 1899): Le Canal Saint-Martin. 1872
0 Replies
Reply Sat 24 Jul, 2004 11:44 am
I just read that Armstrong will probably win a record sixth Tour. What is his place in Tour history Walter? Do the euros think he's used drugs? Or are they resigned to the fact that he was genetically engineered to race up mountains?

BTW, your thread has been one of the most interesting and educating that I have enjoyed. Kudos
0 Replies
Walter Hinteler
Reply Sat 24 Jul, 2004 12:15 pm
Some other personal suggestions:

when in Paris, you'll certainly be one time around the Hôtel de Ville.

Cross the street and go in the BHV (Bazar de l'Hôtel de Ville), one of the oldest department houses of Paris.
The BHV is Paris' smallest department store in size with 33,000 square metres of floor space. About 15,000 metres of the available space is devoted to tools, hardware, and materials; much of it for home improvement. You'll find some really antique looking stuff there, and could in theory design a sofa - or a living room - buy all the pieces at the BHV, have it assembled and installed 'chez vous,' plus have your old junk hauled away - have a 30-day money back guarantee - and if you don't feel like paying cash, have it financed through the BHV as well.

There's a nice view over Paris from the top (access via 6th floor) of the building.
But do go down in the basement, look for "Bricolage" (handicrafts) and have a cup of coffee in the Bricolo Café:


Not too often visited by tourists is

National Museum of the Château de Malmaison
(RER: Line A to station "Grande Arche de la Défense"
and then take bus n°258; get of at the "Le Château" stop.)


The château de Malmaison, purchased by Josephine in 1799 was, together with the Tuileries, the French government's headquarters from 1800 to 1802. When Napoleon moved to Saint-Cloud, Josephine stayed in Malmaison and commissioned a wide range of improvements to the house. She settled in permanently after her divorce in 1809 and died there on May 29, 1814.

On returning from Elba, Napoleon visited Malmaison as a place of pilgrimage and stayed there a few days before being exiled to the island of Saint-Helena. In 1861, Napoleon III set up the first museum of the Consulate in Malmaison. It closed in 1870. After many trials and tribulations and breaking up of the estate in many smaller pieces, the château was donated to the State in 1904 by the philanthropist Daniel Osiris and the museum re-opened in 1906.

Entirely redecorated in an antique style by Percier and Fontaine in 1800, the château contains a remarkable panorama of art of the Consular period. Visitors enter the building through a porch in the shape of a military tent which opens into the main hall. Passing through the billiard-room, visitors enter the "Salon Doré" where hang two paintings by Gérard and Girodet illustrating the myth of Ossian.

The music room, which is currently being restored, contains a few paintings belonging to the now dismantled collection of Josephine, as well as her harp and Queen Hortense's piano. The dining room with its harmony of subtle colours, is a perfect illustration of Pompeian style. The counsel chamber is made to look like a military tent and the library - whose magnificent original decoration has been preserved - contains furniture which was mainly brought from the Tuileries. A secret staircase led Napoleon directly to his rooms on the first floor.

As for Napoleon's rooms, the drawing room contains many portraits of members of the imperial family. His bedroom is furnished with items brought from several imperial residences. The next rooms in the visit contain some exceptional items, such as David's dramatic painting of "Napoleon crossing the Great Saint-Bernard pass", the First Consul's ceremonial sword and the table-top from the table at Austerlitz, on which the Emperor and his marshals are represented.

Amongst the Empresses rooms, there is her extraordinary red and gilt room in the shape of a tent with the bed (designed by Jacob Desmalter) in which she died. The visit ends on the second floor with the room devoted to the Josephine's court trains.

Visitors can enjoy a walk in the park which was transformed by Berthault. Inside the park is a rose garden created by Josephine and a summer pavilion restored to its 1814 condition.

0 Replies
Walter Hinteler
Reply Sun 25 Jul, 2004 10:12 am
Today, the tour ended.
Headlines in French tv-website:

Boonen roi des Champs, Armstrong empereur du Tour

Champs-Élyséesofficially: Avenue des Champs-élysées (French: "Avenue of the Elysian Fields")


broad avenue in Paris, one of the world's most famous, which stretches 1.17 miles (1.88 km) from the Arc de Triomphe to the Place de la Concorde. It is divided into two parts by the Rond-Point ("roundabout") des Champs-Élysées. The lower part, toward the Place de la Concorde (and beyond, the Tuileries Gardens), is surrounded by gardens, museums, theatres, and a few restaurants. The upper part, toward the Arc de Triomphe, was traditionally the site of luxury shops and hotels, restaurants and pavement cafés, theatres, banks, and offices but, since World War II, has steadily declined, becoming the scene of fast-food restaurants, garish movie houses, souvenir vendors, sidewalk hawkers, airline offices, and shopping malls.

When first designed in the 17th century, the Champs-Élysées consisted of fields, an open area then on the outskirts of Paris, containing the Cours de la Reine ("Queen's Drive"), an approach road running along the Seine River to the Tuileries Palace. Later in the same century, André Le Nôtre landscaped the broad, shady avenue and extended it to the crest of the hill on which the Arc de Triomphe now stands. In the 18th century the whole came to be called the Champs-Élysées. The Arc de Triomphe was inaugurated in 1836, and by the 1860s, when Baron Georges-Eugène Haussmann was grandly redrawing the boulevards of Paris, the Champs-Élysées had become a prestigious thoroughfare of palaces, hotels, and restaurants.


L'Arc de Triomphe
in full:L' Arc De Triomphe De L'Étoile,


the largest triumphal arch in the world, and one of the best-known commemorative monuments of Paris, France. The arch stands at the centre of the Place Charles de Gaulle (formerly the Place de l'Étoile), which is the western terminus of the Avenue des Champs-Élysées. The arch is 164 feet (50 m) high and 148 feet (45 m) wide. It was initiated by Napoleon Bonaparte and was designed by J.-F.-T. Chalgrin. Construction of the arch began in 1806, though work was not completed until 1836. Decorative relief sculptures celebrating Napoleon's victorious military campaigns were executed on the arch by François Rude, Jean-Pierre Cortot, and Antoine Etex. Beneath the arch lies France's Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

0 Replies
cicerone imposter
Reply Sun 25 Jul, 2004 08:44 pm
I took this picture in 1994.
0 Replies
Reply Tue 27 Jul, 2004 11:49 am
interesting, 10 years ago.
0 Replies
cicerone imposter
Reply Tue 27 Jul, 2004 01:07 pm
I don't think it's changed much in ten years. Maybe Walter can tell us.
0 Replies
Walter Hinteler
Reply Tue 27 Jul, 2004 01:46 pm
Last time I was there, it looked very different: it was betwenn 2 and 3 o'clock ... at night, four weeks ago.

(We will be there in three weeks again, but at daylight, I suppose :wink: )
0 Replies
Walter Hinteler
Reply Tue 27 Jul, 2004 01:49 pm
And "no", it hasn't changed, really - looks pretty the same - even not so seriously different to more than 30 years back, when I'd been there the very first time.
0 Replies
cicerone imposter
Reply Tue 27 Jul, 2004 02:06 pm
Gee, Walter, I was in Paris for the first time about 46 years ago! Wink I was than a young man stationed in Morocco with the US Air Force, and was able to go on a R&R (rest and recouperation) trip to Paris on the old gooney bird (C47). Wink
0 Replies
Walter Hinteler
Reply Tue 27 Jul, 2004 02:15 pm
You are a couple of months older than I, c.i. :wink:

But interesting: I could have gone there during my service as well: we were stationed in France for two month; I arranged a (cheap weekend-) tour (by bus) to Paris for the complete crew - and got thus the allowance for some days off, which I spent in England (had to hear some "other noises Laughing ).
0 Replies
cicerone imposter
Reply Tue 27 Jul, 2004 02:23 pm
True! Wink
0 Replies
Reply Sun 13 Mar, 2005 04:44 pm

Are you some sort of Cambridge U or Oxford U or Heidelberg U (sorry, I just have this OBSESSION with top universities all over the world - exp the ones in Europe...) historian academic? Reading the thread and seeing the pictures reminds me of a Nigel Spivey documentary...

I suddenly feel so inferior... Embarrassed Embarrassed
0 Replies

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