TDAV Explore – Part 1 “Le Grand Est”
3 April 2020

The Tour de l’Avenir is the most international race for U23 riders, the one that reveals them. It is also an opportunity to discover the richness of French History and Heritage.

With a Grand Départ from the Grand Est to reach the Alps, the riders will take roads sadly famous for the various wars that France has known and then will reach the Alps mountains, a breathtaking scenery.

This first touristic section, going from Charleville-Mézières to Besançon (the first 5 stages of the 57th edition), is marked by the vestiges of the war, the waterways or goes to meet strong characters of the French heritage.

Charleville-Mézières – Prologue of the 57th edition of the Tour de l’Avenir

Capital of the Ardennes, crossroads of trade, since the Middle Ages, between the countries of northern Europe via the Meuse and France. The architecture here is reborn in Charleville and medieval in Mézières.

Charlville-Mézières offers 300 hectares of green spaces.

Birthplace of the poet Arthur Rimbaud (1854-1891).

Riders will be presented on the Place Ducale, classified as a historical monument in 1946. The Place Ducale was born from the dream of an Italian prince, Charles de Gonzague. An architectural jewel of the 17th century, the Place Ducale is the heart of Charleville. Built between 1606 and 1624, it is the point of convergence, the geometrical, architectural, administrative and economic centre of the city.

Stage 1: Charleville-Mézières – Soissons

On the stage:
-The race will notably take the Chemin des Dames which, with its strategic position in the Aisne, has entered the collective memory for having been the scene of several deadly battles from the Gallic period up to the First World War.
-The Caverne du Dragon, one of the most important memorials of the 14-18 war. Combining centuries-old underground galleries and contemporary scenography.
-The Fort de Malmaison, which was part of the second line defensive system set up by Séré de Rivière after the War of 1870. It housed soldiers, horses, ammunition and supplies. Because of its strategic position, Fort de la Malmaison was bitterly contested throughout the First World War.

Capital of the first Merovingian kings, Clovis being the first. Soissons, famous for its broken vase, was rebuilt after 1918, but retains its Gothic cathedral, simple and pure, and the remains of the abbey St-Jean-des-Vignes, a monastery that was one of the richest in the Middle Ages.

Stage 2 | Laon – Laon (individual time trial)

Former capital of the Frankish kingdom, its territory was the scene of the great invasions and contemporary battles. Surrounded by ramparts, in the heart of the medieval city, Notre Dame de Laon Cathedral is the gothic jewel of the 80 listed monuments. The Medieval City, perched on a hilltop, is home to one of the largest protected areas in France.

Eight kilometres of ramparts encircle the Notre-Dame cathedral and give the city its name of crowned mountain visible for miles around.

Stage 3 | Château-Thierry – Bar le Duc

We walk there in turn to Jean de La Fontaine’s house, to the convent of the Augustine sisters at the Hôtel-Dieu, to the ramparts of the medieval castle to admire the spectacle of the Eagles, to the Champagne cellars, in the footsteps of Camille and Paul Claudel, to the American monument on hill 204 and to Belleau to pay homage to the American soldiers who fell in the fighting that saved Paris in 1918. Birthplace of the famous fabulist Jean de La Fontaine, the Tour de l’Avenir will be the occasion to celebrate the 400th anniversary of his birth.

On the stage:
The stage will cross the famous vineyards of Champagne. The riders will not be able to stop but one of them will be able to cut him off at the finish.

Its Upper Town is one of the most remarkable Renaissance urban ensembles in France. Sculpted pediments, fluted pilasters and overhanging gargoyles are all curiosities that remind us how prestigious the past was in these places. The Romanesque Door and the Clock Tower bear witness to this. Its Lower Town has nothing to envy with its waterways (canal from the Marne to the Rhine and the river Ornain), milestone 0 of the Sacred Way leading the fighters to Verdun, Château de Marbeaumont or the monument of Michaux, inventor of the velocipede (!).

And for the foodies, Bar-le-Duc is famous for its gooseberry jams made using the tips of goose feathers.

Stage 4 | Tomblaine – Bar-sur-Aube

Separated from the city of Nancy by the Meurthe river, Tomblaine has always been an ideal place for activities related to water and water sports, with in particular the large lake of La Méchelle.

Its aquatic and wetland areas are also of great faunistic and botanical interest. On the ornithological trail, as the seasons go by, you will come across water hens, falcons and grey herons. Ile aux Oies is home to more than 400 species of birds.

On the stage:
After a few kilometres of racing, the runners will pass in front of the Charles-de-Gaulle memorial in Colombey-les-Deux-Églises.

The race will then cross Domrémy-la-Pucelle where Joan of Arc’s birthplace is located (around 1412). House of the XVᵉ century in medieval style where she heard the voices and contemplated her first apparitions.

The 12th century saw the rise of the monastic economy of the Abbey of Clairvaux. From this medieval golden age, Bar-sur-Aube has preserved a rich architectural and historical heritage with notably the remarkable Saint-Pierre church (12th century) and its wooden gallery, the halloy, which was probably used by merchants at the time of the great Champagne fairs.

From the castle of the Counts, destroyed after the League at the end of the 16th century on the orders of Henri IV, the keep (12th century) remains the present bell tower of the church of Saint-Maclou.

Stage 5 | Saône – Besançon

Commune of Saône:
The village departure holds its etymology of two Celtic words: Sag (Sacred) and onna (water). The inhabitants attributed to a divine will the sudden disappearance, in the bowels of the earth, of the waters of the Saône marsh.

Settled since (2005), Saône counts Francis Mourey – Official, 8 times French Cyclo-cross Champion, among its inhabitants.

City of Besançon:
The city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with its citadel, a masterpiece by Vauban, an engineer of Louis XIV, which, from the top of Mont Saint-Etienne, overlooks the Comtois capital city by more than 100 metres.

The history of Besançon is intimately linked to the measurement of time and watchmaking know-how. Nearly 400 workshops are established in the city and are divided up the manufacture of watches during the Second Empire! Besançon became the capital of French watchmaking.

The Museum of Time is housed in the heart of a Renaissance palace and the Museum of Fine Arts and Archaeology, installed in the former grain market since 1843, houses one of the richest and oldest public collections in France.

Besançon, a spa town thanks to its salt deposits, is also the capital of microtechnology: violin makers, porcelain painters, master glassmakers… continue to enliven the town centre.

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