The Tour de France heads for the Champagne Vineyards
The 2014 Tour de France crosses the Channel to Northern France tomorrow and passes through the heart of the Champagne region.
The 2014 Tour de France crosses the Channel to Northern France tomorrow and passes through the heart of the Champagne region. On Thursday, July 10, the Stage 6 route ends at Reims, the coronation site of the Kings of France and one of the “Martyr Towns” of WW1. Stage 7 on Friday, July 11, departs from the Place de la République, at the bottom of the Avenue de Champagne at Epernay, champagne capital of the world, and passes through the riverside town of Chalôns, through the Argonne, and continues westwards to Nancy.
The region is preparing to welcome visitors with a program of activities around the largest sporting event in the world. The 2014 Tour has special significance as the routes pass by several major WW1 battlefields during this Centenary year, including the Battle of the Marne sites in Champagne-Ardenne. The Ardennes and northern Marne were under German occupation with the heavily fortified Front Line running north of Reims and through the Argonne. French & Allied troops were engaged in trench warfare and fierce battles here have left many cemeteries and memorial sites, with interpretation centers and guided routes a lasting reminder of the strategic importance of the region.
The battlefield memorial sites of the Marne are particularly suited to cycling tourism with large, flat plains and easy gradients but the region has more than 450 kms of cycle paths covering 5 major routes along the Meuse Valley, through the Ardennes and the Marne to the Orient Forest & Lakes.
The network of cycle paths and recommended cycling routes and circuits are proposed by the two quality charter labels set up by the regional tourist board and the region’s 4 departments: “La Champagne à vélo” and “Les Ardennes à vélo.” These labels also identify places where bicycles can be rented and cyclist-friendly accommodation assuring a warm welcome. Ranging from small hotels to gites and chambres d’hôtes, these affiliated establishments offer guaranteed services such as tourist information, secure bike storage and cleaning facilities, laundry, nutritional breakfasts, early starts, picnic lunches on request, dining on site or nearby plus other optional services, too.
Information about the cycling routes, accommodation and other useful details can be found in a handy pocket guide in English which can be downloaded from the tourist board’s web site, Tourist brochures, interactive maps (French site only) and suggested itineraries are also available from the web site.