Tour de France 2010: Stage 5 preview
Date: Thursday, July 8 2010
From/to: Épernay to Montargis
Start town: Epernay
Situated at the heart of 30,000 hectares of vineyards, Epernay, the capital of the Champagne region, attracts around 450,000 visitors every year. Nestled between vineyards and forests, and bordered by the River Marne, it offers an excellent quality of life in an outstanding natural setting. The Champagne countryside has also been proposed as a UNESCO world heritage site.
The Avenue de Champagne, one of the sites selected for this application, is the location of some of the most famous champagne houses. With 110 kilometres of cellars and 200 million bottles of champagne stored underground, it is one of the most prestigious streets in the world.
Recently renovated and redesigned as an avenue-park, creating a pleasant place to stroll, it is also used for a range of events, including the "Habits de Lumière" Christmas lights in December, while its country atmosphere enhances the architecture of the buildings. The town's heritage is reflected in these beautiful 19th century town houses, as well as its historical monuments, such as the Castellane tower and the Gabrielle-Dorziat theatre.
Finish town: Montargis
Montargis' main attraction is its canals and its 131 bridges and walkways, earning it the nickname of the "Venice of the Gâtinais". The River Loing, its canals and lake create an atmosphere of freshness and charm. You can still visit the remains of the royal castle of Renée de France, who turned it into a refuge for the Protestants in the 16th century, as well as the ramparts which are currently being renovated.
A few years ago, the town launched an ambitious urban renovation programme, a firm commitment to the future and sustainable development. The Pâtis area has been completely restructured, with the creation of the Exhibition Gardens outside a newly renovated function hall.
Next in line for renovation is the Sainte Madeleine church. Montargis has committed to the responsible approach of an Agenda 21, aimed at protecting the environment for the wellbeing of its inhabitants. These decisions have earned Montargis the label of "One of the most beautiful detours in France".
Tour de France 2010: Cycling Weekly's coverage index