Tour de France -- 2009

Our 2010 Tour Page

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Independent since 1297, the constitutional monarchy of Monaco is governed by the sovereign Prince Albert II of Monaco (since 2005). The Port Hercule (Hercule Harbour) in Monaco hosted the start and the finish of the first stage on Saturday the 4th of July. Located twenty kilometres east of Nice, facing the Mediterranean Sea, the Principality of Monaco, with a surface area of 2 square km, is on the north end of the Côte d’Azur (French Riviera) next to Italy. It is the second smallest State in the world after the Vatican City. Divided into ten districts, including Monte-Carlo, the central district, Monaco has a population of 32,000. La Turbie Trophée des Alpes pres Monaco

The 180 riders for the 96th run of the Tour de France, took part in a public gathering where each team was presented (Thursday 2nd). Over 9,000 people cheered the riders who were presented on the podium in front of the harbor in Monaco. The formalities began with speeches from the race director Christian Prudhomme, and Prince Albert of Monaco, before the welcoming of the riders during the official team presentations. The Prince also was there to greet the winner of Saturday's event and thus the Tour leader, Fabian Cancellara (TEAM SAXO BANK-à Berne Suisse). Lance Armstrong (Astana-USA) was in 10th place, 40 seconds behind. Levi LEIPHEIMER (Astana-USA) was 6th 30 seconds off the lead. On Sunday the 5th of July, the start of the second stage again was Monaco, leaving the city-state by an uphill climb. Brignoles was the destination, some 120 miles of riding through the south of France, sunny Provence. The sprint at the end saw Mark CAVENDISH (Team Columbia-HTC -- Isle of Man) the winner, with the overall standings for the top ten unchanged.

The Race began its third stage on Monday at the old Harbor in Marseille. Back north and west the Tour crossed the Rhône at Arles (Bouches-du-Rhône department, in the historique Camargue region, an old Greek and Roman area). From there it was virtually flat as the race headex a little south (then mostly west) towards the coast. Its end at Le Grande-Motte was in a commune in the Hérault département in Languedoc-Roussillon. Some have likened it to Florida, in a “love it or hate it” kind of way, because of its crowds and popularity, as well as beatiful beach. This stage saw some surpising breakaways, resulting in Armstrong moving to the third place behind Martin (Columbia) and the leader Cancellara. Cavendish won another sprint stage.

Center of the UniverseThe city of Montpellier/Montpelhièr hosted the the Tour, when for stage 4, it was the starting and stopping point for the return of the team time-trial event. Astana won that stage. Tuesday's time trial left Cancellara in first place by less than a quarter of a second over Armstrong. As the eighth largest city in France today, Montpellier's modern Tramway system should help with the people movement during the event. Indeed, around 75,000 people live within five minutes' walk of a current tram stop, and expansions are on the way. Église (Paroisse-Sanctuaire) de St. Roch in Montpellier, France, is one of dozens of churches throughout Europe, North America and elsewhere dedicated to this citizen of Montpellier -- in places as diverse as Minsk, Glascow, Johnstown, Kahuku and Tamil Nadu (where there are two). The Tour is now on its way to the mountains in the south, emerging at Tarbes on Stage 9 after a brief visit to Spain and Andora.

Place St Jean rue Brauhauban 
(entrée principale) ou rue Maréchal FochLeaving from Montpellier, Béziers and the outskirts of Narbonne were on the route for Stage 5 of the 2009 Tour de France (ending at Perpignan (Pyrénées-Orientales)). Southwest of Narbonne is Durban, which is on the Tour, too. In its day it was at the edge of the Roman frontier in SW France. In Perpignan, don't miss the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist and its beatiful alterpiece. It was begun in 1324 and finished in 1509. Surrealist artist Salvador Dalí declared the city's railway station the center of the Universe, saying that he always got his best ideas sitting in the waiting room. Many pictures are HERE. After this stage the leaders remained in the same position, with Armstrong only .22 seconds behind.

Cardedeu 1962Stage 6 - Gérone (Girona -- Gerona in English) to Barcelone: Gerona (a 1st-time stage-town) is at the confluence of the rivers Ter, Onyar, Galligants and Güell. Girona is the ancient Gerunda, a city of the Ausetani. Later, the Romans built a citadel there, which was given the name of Gerunda. It is said that the apostles Paul and James, on their arrival in the Iberian Peninsula, first preached Christianity there, and tradition also has it that St. Maximus, a disciple of St. James, was the first bishop of the area. After Rome, the Visigoths ruled in Girona until it was conquered by the Moors. Finally, Charlemagne reconquered it in 785 and made it one of the fourteen original countships of Catalonia. Girona landmarks include Saint Mary's Cathedral and much more, a confluence of culture and architecture. After a brave ride to reach the Coast, the race today mostly consisted of riding along the beach road in the rain, except for a detour near Cardedeu (first written reference known dated in the year 941), probably for the view. Then off to the capital of Catalonia (Cataluña) and the rain, which city hosted a prestigious new stage. No change in the top two leader standings today in a town of guitars, architecture and many features the Tour participants will miss as they prepare for the next day of hard riding. Team Astana riders now occupy 4 of the top 5 positions. Alberto Contador (19 seconds), Andreas Kloden (23 seconds) and Levi Leipheimer are placed third to fifth overall, the latter only 31 seconds behind the Swiss leader.

Stage 7 - Barcelone almost straight north to Andorre Arcalis: Outlined against the sky in Barcelona are the remnants of the Roman wall, the spectacular Gothic constructions of the old medieval quarter – the cathedral, palaces, churches, royal shipyards – and the silhouettes of Modernist buildings, including a new art museum with an architectural style unique to the world. The Tour today passes through Manresa, the capital of the region of Plà de Bages. Its city-centre is located on a plain from which onecan make out the rocky outlines of the Mountains of Montserrat Nature Reserve. The style of the Basilica of Santa María de la Seo combines both Romanesque and Renaissance elements, although it is mainly a Gothic structure. The tough mountain riding has begun. Arcalís, the arrival point, is part of the parish of Ordino, one of the seven parishes of Andorra and the most remote resort in Andorra. It has no immediate village associated with the site, due to Arcalis's publicly owned status. Snow reliability is good; but, the bikers were not thinking of that attraction as they struggle up the mountains. Today an early break-away group got as much as 13 minutes ahead of the main group. At the end of the day the stage winner also qualified to wear the Yellow Shirt.

Stage 8 - Andorre-la-Vieille to Saint-Girons: The Principality, created in 1278 by its French and Spanish co-rulers, sits at the heart of the Pyrénées, nestled between the nations of France and Spain. Situated at an altitude of 1400 meters, Andorra-la-Vieille is both a parish and the capital of the Principality of Andorra, Europe’s most elevated capital. Saint-Girons is a sub-prefecture of Ariège (not to be confused with Saint-Girons-en-Béarn) with Gallo-Roman ramparts of the ancient bishopric of St-Lizier (the episcopal residence of the bishops of Couserans). Two mountain rivers rush through the city. The miraculous fountain of Eycheil, according to tradition, gushed forth after St. Lizier had been praying to St. John the Baptist. The modern Diocese of Pamiers especially honours St. Gerontius, a martyr (date unknown) who gave his name to the city of St-Girons (Ariège).

Once over the last climb of the day (Cold d'Agnès)and into the Garbet valley, the road drops quickly west to Aulus-les-Bains, a remote village lying among moist and fragrant meadows ringed by dramatic peaks. Like other spa towns, Aulus enjoyed its moment of glory and fell again into rustic somnolence, from which it is trying to resurrect itself once more. This is country for walking and enjoying the landscapes: there's nothing else, and, remote though it feels, it's not inaccessible – there are one to three daily buses (Mon–Sat) to St-Girons, the ending point for today's race. The race left the Pyrénées during July 12th.

Stage 9 - Saint-Gaudens ( to Tarbes: The Race begins at an historic crossroads town in Haute-Garonne of trade routes between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean and between Toulouse and the Val d'Aran in Spain. A young shepherd, Gaudens (Gaudentius, was martyred by the Visigoths at the end of the 5th Century for refusing to renounce his faith. The town later developed around the 11th Century Romanesque-style church (a basilica with three naves), dedicated to Saint Peter (the town's first Patron and Saint Gaudens, that was built on the site of at least one earlier church. After leaving the Pyrénées, the Tour passes by Lourdes (Hautes-Pyrénées), a small market town lying in the foothills, most noted for Marian appearances (le 11 février 1858) and the resulting mass pilgrimages to a place of healing. Our Lady of Lourdes appeared to Bernadette Soubirous on several occasions, she died at an early age. The burial place of Sainte Bernadette Soubirous (Convent of the Sisters of Charity) is at Nevers. Her remains have been placed in a gold and crystal reliquary in the Chapel of Sainte Bernadette at the mother house. Many pilgrims visit the body of Saint Bernadette, which to this day remains intact despite being nearly one hundred and thirty years old.

Tarbes (au pied des Pyrénées-July 12th-Stage 9) is on the river Adour and just east of the River Esner. Both rivers arise in the mountains to the south and join together north of the city. Remains from the 3rd Century BC suggest that Tarbes was a stopping point for those from Aquitaine looking for salt in the mountains. The Romans came next, and by the 4th century the Church had arrived. The region has been known perhaps since Antiquity for its hot springs, and several towns were built around these, most notable Cauterets, Luz-Saint-Sauveur and Bagnères-de-Bigorre.

Guéret en Creuse Monday July 13th was a rest day for the Tour. Nine days done, 12 more to go. After the rest day, came Limoges {start} and Issoudun {finish} with its big radio towers, as the Tour heads North for Stage 10. July 14th is Bastille Day, the French celebration similar to July 4th in the USA. Situated in the heart of the Berry region, the city of Issoudun centers in a municipal community of 23,000 souls. The town dates to the Gallo-Roman epoch. At the end of the 12th century, it was the scene of fierce battles between Richard the Lionheart and Philippe Auguste. Protected by impressive and extensive battlements, a great tower (Tour Blanche (White Tower)) was added later to these fortification, thereby making the town virtually impossible to attack. Starting in the Limousin region, the course bypasses Châteauroux in the Indre département; however it passes through Guéret en Creuse (Look for the wolves of Chabrières in Limousin) and La Châtre (Indre). The two distinct branches of the pilgrim route Santiago de Compostela passing through Berry were of similar length - one passing through La Charité-sur-Loire, Bourges, Déols and Châteauroux, and the other through Nevers, Saint-Amand-Montrond and La Châtre. They met in the village of Gargilesse (-Dampierre), no more than 10 miles southeast of Argenton-sur-Creuse nor 10 miles north of Eguzon (-Chantôme).

Saint-Sauveur-en-Puisaye, la Tour SarrasineStage 11 -- Vatan (une village de Champagne Berrichonne - Indre) to Saint-Fargeau: The Tour now halfway along, spends the day going from west to east, mostly in the Loire Valley, bypassing Bourges and Nevers, stopping short of Auxerre. Both the departure and finish towns are first time hosts. Vatan means "Go Away" an ideal starting point in the Indre, just north of Issoudun. Vatan was also the host town for the sixth annual meeting of French mayors of towns with funny names. Vatan is about 12 miles northeast of Pellevoisin, a place of yearly pilgrimage since September 9, 1877. Estelle Faguette saw the Virgin Mary there many times in 1876 and was healed in 1876. Entre la Loire et l'Yonne, la petite ville de Saint Fargeau est la capitale historique de la Puisaye. La Saison 2009 du Spectacle Historique aura lieu tous les vendredis et samedis soir à 22h00 entre le 11 Juillet et le 22 Août 2009 inclus dans le parc du Château de Saint-Fargeau. In the early years of the reign of Louis XIV, the town was the home to his exiled cousin, the vastly wealthy Anne Marie Louise d'Orléans who resided at this small country home. The town is just west of the provincial border in the Yonne department. St. Fargeau Daily Saints Ferreolus and Ferrutio (French: Ferréol and Ferjeux; Italian: Ferreolo e Ferruccio) (d. ca. 212 AD) are venerated as martyrs and saints by the Catholic Church. Their legendary acts state that they were converted to Christianity by Saint Polycarp, ordained as a priest and deacon, respectively, by Saint Irenaeus of Lyon. After working as missionaries amongst the Sequani for 30 years, in 212, during the persecution of Alexander Severus, they were arrested, tortured and beheaded. According to legend, their relics were discovered in a cave near Besançon in 370 by a military tribune and enshrined in the cathedral there. St. Fargeau is home to numerous famous historical figures, including Jacques Cœur Besançon

Stage 12 Tonnerre to Vittel: Tonnerre (Yonne département-a small, olde, Roman crossroads towne) is another first year host, lying south of Troyes by about 15 miles. Vittel (Vosges département) hosts for the second time with its Belle Epoque façades and thermal spa. Today is a flat race, where the sprinters should prevail. The race crosses the River Aube (for its Champagne lunch at its confluence with the Bresse) about halfway along the course at the ancient Bar-sur-Aube (Aube département - whose inhabitants of the commune are called Baralbains); and after a brief small climb, the Marne at Chaumont (Haute-Marne département), another Champagne town. This is not the town with a famous Château, which Medici home is in Loir-et-Cher. The Tour Chaumont was the venue of an offensive treaty against Napoleon I signed by the United Kingdom, Austria, Prussia and Russia in 1814. The hill of Saint Roch in the old city at Chaumont was also occupied long before the Roman military camp was placed temporarily on the site, or the first chapel was built. At the end of the day, Cavendish retained the Green Jersey and Levi LEIPHEIMER (4th place at the end of this stage) had to withdraw, because of a broken wrist incurred at the end of the race with less than 2km to go.

History Ville de VittelStage 13 Vittel to Colmar -- rain, rain, rain: Today, July 17th, the Tour started where it finished in an ancient germanic town, frequented by the Romans. Today, mineral water is bottled and sold here by Nestlé Waters France, under the Vittel brand, a Tour sponsor. The Race ends today in the historically contested region of Alsace (Haut-Rhin) after passing through des Pays des Vôge (Vosges). Please visit our page on the finish point, Colmar For the Tour’s first visit, in 1931, the wine capital of Alsace (south of Vignoble Alsacien) had the privilege of seeing title-holder André Leducq win, while Antonin Magne wore the Yellow Jersey throughout the country. Seventy years later, another French racer thrilled the public here, what’s more it was a stage victory on Bastille Day. After a nasty accident at home early in the season, Laurent Jalabert made a stunning comeback, winning his second stage at Colmar in the 2001 Tour after Verdun. Villages de la Plaine d'Alsace - Haut Rhin outside Colmar. Rinaldo NOCENTINI (Team AG2R-LA MONDIALE) is in First Place overall by 6 seconds over Alberto CONTADOR (Astana) and 8 seconds over Lance ARMSTRONG (Astana); moreover, Cavendish lost the green, behind Hushovd by only 5 points.

Stage 14 starts in Colmar and heads south to Besançon, passing close to but bypassing Mulhouse and Belfort. The race also passes east of Montbéliard as it enters the Department of Doubs ( Pays de Montbéliard -- Franche-Comté region). Mentioned first in 985 as Mons Beliardae, it became a county of the Holy Roman Empire in the 11th century. In 1397 the town, known in archaic German as Mömpelgard, passed by marriage of Henriette, heiress of county to Eberhard IV, Count of Württemberg, to the counts (later dukes) of the House of Württemberg. In 1793 the town was annexed to France. As a consequence of the former rule under the dukes of Württemberg, it has been for centuries one of the few Protestant (specifically Lutheran) enclaves in France. The main manufacturing plant of Peugeot (and museum) is partly located in Montbéliard (the rest is in a suburb called Audincourt) and the industrialist Peugeot family is a Protestant family from the vicinity of Montbéliard. The main Catholic church is St-Maimboeuf Church (late 19th century), and the Protestant structure is the oldest one in France, the Temple of St. Martin (1605). The Mandeure Site about 5 miles south of the city displays the remains of a vast Gallo-Roman theater dating back to the 1st Century AD.

The last third of the course was in the stunning Pays de Besançon. The last sprint took place at Baume les Dames. At the confluence of the Doubs and Cusancin, this village (nestled in greenery) is named for the Benedictine abbey (convent) founded in the seventh century where Sainte Odile patroness of Alcace, recovered her sight. The sleepy city retains its historic architecture provenance, including Notre Dame, the abbey church, the chapel of St. Sepulcher from the sixteenth century, ceramics from the hospital Sainte Croix, the organ pipes of Calinet, l 'Hotel des sires de Neuchâtel and more. see Mont Sainte-Odile, the holy mountain of Alsace, became an important place for pilgrimages. Here too are remains of an Iron Age hillfort, called "pagan wall" (Mur Païen). It is over 10 km long and in parts up to 3 m high. The wall was rebuilt during Roman times. The highlight of the race today was the effort to win the stage and the effort that almost resulted in the change of the yellow jacket to George Hincapi.

Aosta Cathedral Stage 15 Pontarlier to Verbier: The Tour tried something unique today as the riders traveled across the width and breadth of Switzerland -- through the Swiss Alps. Pontarlier (France) is close by the Swiss border. The course passed just south of Lac de Neuchâtel and skirted the hills above the eastern edge of Lac Léman at Montreux, reaching Aigle on the Rhône before a long climb and ending almost in Ialy at Verbier (a resort town). The last ascent serpenting between Le Châble and Verbier required a huge effort from the racers: 8.5 km and over 700m of difference in elevation, this was without doubt the highlight of the day's race! Alberto CONTADOR (Astana) now holds the yellow, with a lead of 1 minute 37 seconds over Lance ARMSTRONG (Astana), after Stage 15. Astana also occupies 4th place (Andréas KLÖDEN). A big day. A big change. On Monday, the teams will enjoy a day of rest. Switzerland hosted the Tour de France 2009 during three days. This is a première racing event for the Swiss Nation this year.At St. Bernard Pass

The Tour resumed at nearby Martigny (among other riches, this town possesses a large amphitheatre and numerous excellently preserved vestiges from the Gallo-Roman era) on the 21st of July (Stage 16) to finish in Bourg-St-Maurice (France), passing over the pass of the Grand-St-Bernard at 2,473m of altitude, which is the highest point of the tour 2009. Forty-three years later, the Grand-Saint-Bernard Pass was back on the Tour de France’s route. Then the riders climbed the Petit-Saint-Bernard before plunging down to Bourg-Saint-Maurice. Today we were in Italy for much of the event, passing just to the west of Aosta at the halfway point. Aosta (French: Aoste -- Francoprovenzale Aoûta o Veulla) is the principal city of the bilingual Aosta Valley in the Italian Alps, 110 km north-northwest of Turin. The ancient town walls of Augusta Prætoria Salassorum are still preserved almost in their entirety, along with city gates and other Roman structures, like the magnificant theatre. Aosta is situated near the Italian entrance of the Mont Blanc Tunnel, at the confluence of the Buthier and the Dora Baltea, and at the junction of the Great and Little St. Bernard routes. Bourg-Saint-Maurice sits close to the Vanoise National Park, about 15 miles south of Mont Blanc, which dominates the view to the north. Only 5 more stages remained after this day, and just a few more mountains. No change in the top 5 standings; Wednesday Mont Blanc is to our right.

Stage 17 Bourg-Saint-Maurice to Le Grand-Bornand: The Tour headed north from Bourg-Saint-Maurice (a ski resort area), about 15 miles east of Albertville. After about 2 thirds of the course, all headed southwest to the finish at Le Grand-Bornand, another traditional French Alpine village and ski resort. The town, as an agricultural center, is known for its Reblochon cheese From the 13th century, when farmers in the mountains of Haute Savoie used to pay their taxes with part of their milk production. They did not fully milk their cows so as to lower their level of production. Once the tax officers came to measure the milk produced and left, the farmers went back to milk the cows again. The milk they got was much richer and was used to make Reblochon, a substance softer-than-Brie in texture ! Alberto CONTADOR (Astana) held the yellow, then with a lead of several minutes over the Schleck Brothers, after Stage 17. Astana also occupies 4th (Lance ARMSTRONG) and 5th place (Andréas KLÖDEN).

Stage 18 is the Annecy time trial, the Tour’s last time-trial often marks the end of the struggle between contestants; but not this year. The loop around beautiful Lake Annecy is just 40 km long. On the 18th of March (2009), Annecy was selected as France’s candidate city to host the 2018 Winter Olympics and Paralympics. Haute-Savoie is the birthplace of the Winter Olympics and often called the Venice of the Alps, situated at the heart of the world’s top winter sports resorts. Le Grand-Bornand is also part of the Annecy Olympic project - Annecy is France’s candidate city to host the Winter Olympic Games in 2018 - and will host the biathlon competitions on its slopes. Alberto CONTADOR (Astana) holds the yellow, now with a lead of a little more than 4 minutes over Andy SCHLECK after the final time trial day, after Stage 18. Astana also occupies 3rd (Lance ARMSTRONG) and 5th place (Andréas KLÖDEN). Bradley WIGGENS and Frank SCHLECK are 4th and 6th respectively. The last two stages before Paris will decide who stands on the podium in 3rd and possibly 2nd place. Contador's outstanding victory probably assures first, assuming a decent ride up Mont Ventoux on Saturday.

Stage 19 Bourgoin-Jallieu to Aubenas; The course jumps over to a town somewhat west of the Lyon airport. It bypasses Vienne and Valance on the Rhône, but does pass through Romans-sur Isère (Département of Drôme). The Collégiale Saint-Barnard comes to mind, along with the town's many extant hôtels particuliers from the 15th and 16th centuries (associated with textiles) that blend italian renaissance and flamboyant gothic styles. Interestingly, the city has an extensive archives on its historical resources: This Web-based Archives et Patrimoine de Romans is still under construction, but its many pictures, alone, are worth the visit. L'église Notre-Dame de Lourdes de Romans-sur-Isère (Drôme) est l'œuvre de l'architecte François Béranger; construite en 1937 et inaugurée le 15 août 1938. Elle est de style « gothique moderne. » Between Vienne and Valence are some of the oldest, most celebrated vineyards in France: the renowned Côte Rotie, Hermitage and Crozes-Hermitage appellations; even the vin ordinaire is superlative and unbelievably inexpensive, considering its quality. Just south of Ampuis on the west bank, 8km south of Vienne, is the tiny area producing one of the most exquisite French white wines, Condrieu, and close by one of the most exclusive Château-Grillet an appellation covering just this single Château holding. Cavendish won Friday's stage (thereby setting the British record for 9 total stage wins); but no changes in the race leaders.

BercyStage 20 Montélimar to Mont Ventoux: Situated on the Rhône, the gateway to Provence, one and a half hours south of Lyon and north of Marseille, Montélimar is almost back in Provence, where the race began; its every street proclaiming the glory of the nougat that has been made here for centuries and is the town's chief reason for being. The course heads south and east, it circles its goal, then comes the attack from the southwest. Located near Carpentras, the Mont Ventoux is 25 km long and 15km wide. During the summer, scorching days can be followed by snowstorms. The wind can reach 250 km/h, from any direction. The change in elevation during a climb is nearly a mile. In September 2008, it was announced by Claude Haut, the president of the Vaucluse province, that the Tour would once more visit Mont Ventoux after a seven year absence. The big news is about the day that the riders will have to climb the Giant of Provence, on the second to last day of the race, on July 25, 2009, prior to transferring to Paris (by TGV) for the traditional stage into the city and down the Champs-Élysées. More about the mountain and the Tour is HERE. Take the challenge yourself -- don't miss all the pictures. A personal account by the first person to climb the mountain and live to write the tale: In his day the Giant of Provence was tree-covered, hardy French Oak no doubt; but, years of ship building and subsequent erosion left a barren moonscape near the top. Four Hundred thousand persons were expected to line the course on the mountain, despite the gale-force winds at the peak this day. Some said there was a crowd of about a million, give or take a couple of hundred thousand. The three tour time leaders finished together, so that upon the final sorting we find Alberto CONTADOR (Astana) holding onto the yellow, with a lead of a little more than 4 minutes over Andy SCHLECK. Astana also occupies 3rd (Lance ARMSTRONG) about another minute behind overall. These three would take the stand on Sunday.
Stage 21: The race concludes today with the visit to Paris. It's over !!! But, not before the traditional victory ride into town and the many circuits on the Champs-Élysées. Montereau-Fault-Yonne is the starting point (Seine-et-Marne). Moving north, the course bypasses Melun (start point in 2002 for the last stage), making a left turn just before the A9 (Villeneuve-le-Comte). Heading west it bypasses Crétell, reaching the Marne and then the Seine at Charenton-le-Pont (and the Métro system, too). Then at Bercy the riders cross the Seine and head up the Left Bank into the city-centre.

About 250 years before the birth of Christ, a native tribe of Celtic people settled on the banks of the Seine River. They called the setting Loukteih, meaning a marshy place. Two hundred years later (52 B.C.), Roman soldiers arrive in Paris, beginning a long tradition of strangers marching into the town. There, after the usual rousing parade, Julius Cæsar holds an assembly at the local hôtel de ville. The new owners embark on a building spree for economic stimulus on a nearby hill. The Romans called the tribe that occupies the area the Parisii. Cæsar identifies the city as Lutetia Parisorum, a Latinized version of the Celtic names, in his famous work that extols the virtues and victories of his campaign in Gaul. see generally Our map of that Romanized city is HERE.

Place where St Denis lost his headIn 250 AD, the Romans behead Denis, Bishop of the Parisii (he also known as Dionysius), in the area of Paris that is now named for the hill of the martyred saint, Montmartre. The Church of Saint Pierre today sits on the spot (pictured right). Legend recites that the good bishop carries his head, after it is severed from his body, north (down the hill) to the place now known as the site of the abbey of St. Denis. Saint Denis is most often depicted headless, head in hand. Denis, the first bishop of Paris (pronounced dawn-ee) and his companions, martyred in 270AD on a large hill overlooking Gare du Nord and all Paris, were buried several miles north of the spot of the execution. The small chapel built over the spot and named for this martyr, became a very famous, pilgrimage church, during the fifth and sixth centuries. In 630 King Dagobert (a Merovingian ruler of France) founded an abbey for Benedictine monks, replacing the original chapel by a large basilica. This basilique has been much rebuilt and expanded -- only the burial crypt remains of the original structure; however, it was desecrated during the Revolution.

In about 300AD, barbarians destroy the city. By 360AD the city name of "Paris" had become official and Emperor Julian of the late Roman Empire (in the West) is crowned there. Moving along about 90 years, we find Attila, a Hun of some reknown, heading toward Paris. A young nun named Geneviève encourages the Parisians to pray and stand firm against the impending onslaught and certain death. Attila's legions avoid Paris and are defeated at Châlons. Geneviève is hailed as the city's savioress and is named later the patron sainte of Paris. What is now the Panthéon in Paris was originally built as a church to be named and dedicated to Sainte-Geneviève. The original church of that name sat on the highest point of a hill -- over 70 meters above the river -- looking west towards what was the Roman forum and city centre.

The Église Saint-Étienne-du-Mont, where now rest Saintes Geneviève and Clotilda (Clotilde-former Princess of ancient Burgundy) and Clovis, Roi of all Franks (in 1996 the country celebrated the 1500th anniversary of his baptism on December 25th), stands next to the Panthéon (to the north and the east) on the hill that dominates the left bank. These are the founding patrons of Paris and the French Nation (along with St. Denis). The first parish church of St. Étienne (the area of the old Roman forum) arose in the 6th century out of the Abbey of Ste. Geneviève. It used the burial crypt of the structure for its worship space. Not until the 13th century was a separate church built, on the north side of the abbey on the crest of the hill overlooking the Seine. An ever-growing parish resulted in a new structure begun in the year before Columbus left for the New World (1491). Successive stages of construction help explain the mixture of architectural styles, making it one of the most uncommon eglise in 16th Century Paris. The vaults of the apse and the bell tower appeared in 1491, the chancel in 1537, the gallery in 1545; finally, the vaults of the nave and the transept were completed in 1580. The bell tower is raised in 1624 and the portal is built in 1610. After the Revolution the demolition of the Abbey church, in 1807, disturbs the balance of its façade. This church contains Pascal’s tomb, who died while he was in the parish territory and Racine’s ashes -- transferred to this church from Port-Royal in 1711. Furthermore, it contains the shrine of St. Geneviève’s remains (left), the patron sainte of Paris. The reliquary contains only a few fingers, bones and ashes, because during the Revolution, the remains were burned.

The three ancient schools of Notre-Dame, Ste-Geneviève, and St-Victor may be regarded as the triple cradle of the universitas scholarium, which included masters and students; hence the name University. Read about the first student strike in Paris, 1226AD -- it caused the changes that led to the founding of the historic University of Paris. The Université de Paris is often referred to as the Sorbonne or La Sorbonne after the collegiate institution (Collège de Sorbonne) founded about 1257. The University of Paris VIII: Vincennes - Saint-Denis was organized in response to the student strikes of 1968. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose !!! Perhaps Sainte Geneviève will yet appear once more.

Placez-vous sur les chemins, regardez, Et demandez quels sont les anciens sentiers, Quelle est la bonne voie; marchez-y, Et vous trouverez le repos de vos âmes !

Current Newsletter -- and, a special thanks to Versus for its race coverage in 2009.

A few 2009 cities: Principality of Monaco -- Marseille -- Montpellier & Arles -- Béziers -- Narbonne & Perpignan -- Tarbes -- Limoges -- Issoudun -- Colmar -- Besançon -- Annecy

A few of the places to host the Tour in 2010: Bruxelles, Liège, Cambrai, Reims, Chambéry, Gap, Valence, Pau, Bordeaux & Paris
Many more French Cities HERE

© 2009-10, All rights reserved
New: July 07, 2009 (modified during race)