A guide to the Tour de France
A guide to Stage 11 of the Tour de France 2017, which is 203.5km from Eymet to Pau. The stage goes through les Landes and le Gers before reaching the Pyrénées Atlantiques near the finish. There's likely to be a breakaway, but if the sprinters' teams time it right, they'll catch the escapees, and the day will end with a bunch sprint. Read about Stage 11 of the Tour de France 2017 here.
12th July 2017
Another flat stage. Another sprint. Another Kittel win.
Stage 11 of the Tour de France 2017 starts at Eymet, and goes through the Landes and Gers départements to Pau. This is a transitional stage, which takes the Tour de France towards the Pyrenees. There'll be mountains in the following two days, but Stage 11 is for the sprinters.
|Climbs||Côte d'Aire-sur-l'Adour (Category 4)|
The official Tour de France stage profile for Stage 11:
Profile of Stage 11, © ASO/Tour de France
Stage 11 takes place on Wednesday 12th July 2017.
The publicity caravan sets off from Eymet at 11h00, and arrives at the finish in Pau at 16h03. The peloton leaves Eymet at 13h00, and arrives in Pau between 17h36 and 18h03.
The stage starts in Eymet, a historic bastide town, which has a significant British population.
The race leaves Eymet on the D933 (a road which features heavily in this stage - a stage which might not be the most exciting of the 2017 Tour; perhaps just watch the highlights!). Very soon after the ceremonial start, the riders leave the Dordogne département, and enter the Lot-et-Garonne. The first village they pass after the start is la Sauvetat-du-Dropt.
There's a visit to the tiny village of Roumagne, home of Pierrick Fédrigo, a retired professional cyclist who was French national road race champion in 2005. He is known as 'le nez de Marmande'.
Still on the D933, the race goes via Miramont-de-Guyenne and Seyches to Marmande, on the river Garonne.
After crossing the Garonne as they leave Marmonde, the riders continue south on the D933 to Casteljaloux and Houeillès.
Shortly after passing Houeillès, Stage 11 leaves the Lot-et-Garonne, and enters the département of les Landes.
(As well as being a département, Landes means 'heathlands', and much of the terrain here was heathland, used to graze sheep, and periodically burned off. Many of the sheep were removed in the 1800s, which they were baaarely happy about, when large areas were planted with pine trees).
The race goes through the villages of Lubbon and Estigarde, before reaching Labastide-d'Armagnac. A couple of kilometres later, it passes a chapel called Notre-Dame des Cyclistes. The chapel was created by Abbé Massie, known as 'the pope of cyclo-tourisme', and is a national sanctuary for cyclists which is regularly visited by professionals.
The route of Stage 11 continues south via le Houga to
The intermediate sprint is at the far end of Aire-sur-l'Adour.
Profile of intermediate sprint on Stage 11, © ASO/Tour de France
Leaving Aire-sur-l'Adour, the road climbs for 1.2km at an average gradient of 4.2%. This is the Category 4 climb, the Côte d'Aire-sur-l'Adour.
Shortly afterwards, the race enters the Pyrénées Atlantiques département, and continues south. The route passes through Carrère, Sévignac, Escoubès, and Saint-Jammes.
When the riders reach the small town of Morlaàs, they're about 10km from the finish in Pau.
Stage 11 covers 7.5km within Pau itself. According to Pau's website, the route in Pau is route de Morlaàs, avenue Alfred Nobel, avenue du Corps Franc Pommies, boulevard Tourasse, boulevard du recteur Jean Sarrailh, avenue Jean Mermoz, boulevard Champetier de Ribes, rue Michelet, rue du Maquis de Béarn, and place de Verdun (close to the Château de Pau).
Pau's map shows the route of the finish of Stage 11 in green:
Route of finish of Stage 11, Tour de France 2017 in Pau, © town of Pau
Place Verdun, where the race finishes, was originally just an area of marshy ground, but in the C16th, it was transformed into one of the gardens of the Château de Pau, called the Haute-Plante. It became a military parade ground after military barracks, the caserne Bernadotte, were completed in 1875. Today, almost inevitably, it is testament to the dominion of the motor car over all earthly life, hosting as it does, a car park.
Stage 11 is a chance for the sprinters. One of the lessons of the last few years in the Tour de France is never count André Greipel out. Will-a the Gorilla be the winner in Pau? Perhaps.
Stage 12 of the Tour de France 2017 is the first day in the Pyrenees. It's 214.5km, and the climbs include the Port de Balès and the Col de Peyresourde.
Read about Stage 12, Tour de France 2017.
Eymet is a town in the Dordogne département, on the river Dropt.
It was founded in 1270 by the Count of Toulouse, and built as a bastide - a new town, with streets in a grid pattern, and town walls around.
British people account for a third of Eymet's population, and it was the location of much of the filming of the ITV programme, Little England.
Marmande is a town in the Lot-et-Garonne département. It is known for producing tomatoes, and there's a tomato festival in July.
Marmande was the site of a Roman castrum, but the current town was founded as a bastide town by Richard Coeur de Lion in 1195. It passed into the hands of the Counts of Toulouse, and as a result it was besieged on a number of occasions during the Albigensian Crusades. It became part of France in the time of Louis IX.
One of the main sights of Marmande is a C13th church.
Labastide-d'Armagnac was founded as a bastide town in 1291 by Bernard VI d'Armagnac. Like all bastide towns, the streets are on a grid pattern, and there's a central square surrounded by buildings with arcades (place Royale). Originally, it had defensive walls around it, but these no longer exist.
Henri IV is said to have stayed here on several occasions, and place Royale is supposed to have inspired him to create place Vosges in Paris.
Aire-sur-l'Adour is a town on the river Adour in the Landes département.
Historically, it was the residence of the kings of the Visgoths, from 466 to 507AD. It was later a stop on the route of a pilgrimmage to Sant-Iago-de-Compostella, and had two hospitals for pilgrims. In 1814, Wellington beat Napoleon's Marshal Soult in a battle here.
This is a wine-producing area, making wines labelled Tursan.
Pau is a city of 78,506 people (the inhabitants are called Palois) on the river Gave de Pau. It's the historic capital of the province of Béarn.
There are views of the Pyrenees from the boulevard des Pyrenées. Alphonse de Lamartine said, 'Pau has the most beautiful view of the earth just as Naples has the most beautiful view of the sea.'
The origin of the name Pau is uncertain. It could come from pal, referring to the palisade or fence around the first castle in Pau. Another possibility is that pal means rockface, and refers to Pau's position at the foot of mountains.
A castle was built by the Viscounts of Béarn, probably in the C11th, to protect a ford of the Gave de Pau. Pau became the capital of Béarn in 1464. It then became the seat of the Kings of Navarre in 1512. Henri of Navarre went on to become King Henri IV of France, in 1589. In 1620, Béarn lost its independence from France, although the Parliament of Navarre continued to govern local matters (with laws in the Occitan dialect).
In the Belle Epoque (usually defined as 1871 to 1914), Pau developed as a tourist destination for the royal, aristocratic, and rich. Scottish doctor Alexander Taylor helped make it a popular destination for a winter cure. Later, aviation and petrochemicals (following the discovery of natural gas in Lacq) were significant industries here, and more recently, the services sector has grown. There's a large student population at the Université de Pau et des Pays de l'Adour.
The Chateau de Pau is one of the city's main attractions. It was originally a fortification guarding a ford of the Gave de Pau, reinforced in the C14th by Gaston III of Foix-Béarn. In the C16th, as the seat of the Navarre dynasty, it was transformed into a residence.
Henri of Navarre was born in the chateau. Wikipedia has a garbled explanation of Henri's connection to the castle, which has the hallmarks of a computer translation from French: 'The future Henri IV takes the trouble to be born December 13, 1553, and the story did the rest. The fame of the king...gives the castle, which did not see him grow up or die, a particular taste, and the right to claim honours those who give birth supermen.' Right. I, who not uderstand all things to men, a special smell, this translation glorious three and a half ten out of.
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