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Stage 14, Tour de France 2016: Montélimar to Villars-les-Dombes Parc des Oiseaux

Romans-sur-Isère seen from Bourg-de-Péage

View of Romans-sur-Isère from Bourg-de-Péage, by Enneite, Flickr, Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

A guide to Stage 14 of the Tour de France 2016. Stage 14 of the 2016 Tour is 208.5km from Montélimar to Villars-les-Dombes Parc des Oiseaux, via Cléon-d'Andran, Crest, Montélier, Bourg-de-Péage, Romans-sur-Isère, Margès, Hauterives, Beaurepaire, Cour-et-Buis, Eyzin-Pinet, Moidieu-Détourbe, Saint-Quentin-Fallavier, Charvieu-Chavagneux, Jons, and Montluel. There are three Category 4 climbs - the Côte de Puy-Saint-Martin, the Côte du Four-à-Chaux, and the Côte d'Hauterives. The intermediate sprint is at la Fayette. The stage is classified as flat. Read about Stage 14 of the Tour de France 2016 here.

Read the Stage 14 race report.

Stage 14, Tour de France 2016: facts, figures, and map

Stage 14 of the Tour de France 2016 is 208.5km from Montélimar to Villars-les-Dombes Parc des Oiseaux.

Stage classification Flat
Distance 208.5km
Sprints La Fayette (after 145.5km)
Climbs Côte de Puy-Saint-Martin (Category 4)
Côte du Four-à-Chaux (Category 4)
Côte d'Hauterives (Category 4)

There's an official map of Stage 14, Tour de France 2016.

This is the official Tour de France stage profile for Stage 14:

Profile of Stage 14, Tour de France 2016

Stage 14 profile, © A.S.O. Tour de France organisers

Stage 14, Tour de France 2016: timings

These are some of the Stage 14 timings (based on the medium estimated speed of 42kmh):

Km Place Time
Départ fictif in Montélimar 1200
0 Départ réel  Montélimar D128 1210
13 Cléon d'Andran 1228
20.5 Côte de Puy-Saint-Martin (Category 4) 1239
58.5 Montélier 1333
69.5 Bourg-de-Péage 1349
71.5 Romans-sur-Isère 1352
93.5 Côte du Four-à-Chaux (Category 4) 1424
101.5 Côte d'Hauterives (Category 4) 1435
123 Cour-et-Buis 1505
128 Eyzin-Pinet 1512
133 Moidieu-Détourbe 1520
145.5 La Fayette (sprint) 1538
153 Saint-Quentin-Fallavier 1548
168.5 Charvieu-Chavagneux 1610
188 Montluel 1638
208.5 Finish at Villars-les-Dombes Parc des Oiseaux 1707

See the full timings for Stage 14 on the Tour de France website, based on average speeds of 44, 42, and 40kmh.

Stage 14, Tour de France 2016: the start at Montélimar

Tour de France roundabout, Montélimar

Tour de France roundabout, Montélimar, by M Minderhoud, Licence CC BY-SA 3.0

Stage 14 starts in Montélimar, an historic town in the Drôme département known for its nougat. 

Montélimar's website has details of the start of Stage 14, with a pdf document covering Montélimar's cycling history, practical information for the day of the Tour, and the route. 

The stage sets off from avenue J F Kennedy, near the river Jabron, then turns left on avenue d'Aygu, passes place Max Dormoy, heads past the theatre on avenue Général de Gaulle. It then follows the boulevards around the town centre in a clockwise direction, crosses the Roubion (not the Roubicon!) on the pont de la Libération to avenue d'Espoulette on the other side of the river, and forks left on the route de Saint-Gervais/D128. The D128 takes the riders out of Montélimar, heading east-north-east, initially alongside the Roubion. This map shows the route:

Map of the start of Stage 14, Tour de France 2016, in Montélimar

The départ fictif is at 1200. Once the riders have done the tour around Montélimar, and reached the D128, the racing starts. The départ réel is at 1210.

Montélimar nougat

Nougat de Montélimar, by Wolf Gang, Flickr, Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

Stage 14, Tour de France 2016: Montélimar to Beaurepaire

Abbaye Sainte-Anne, Bonlieu-sur-Roubion

Abbaye Sainte-Anne, Bonlieu-sur-Roubion

The flag goes down and the racing starts on the D128 on the outskirts of Montélimar, and 6km later, the riders fork left on the D310 to Bonlieu-sur-Roubion. (Bonlieu means 'good location'. The village developed around a Cistercian convent, founded in 1171. Bonlieu has 410 inhabitants.)

It's another 5km to Cléon-d'Andran. From there, it's a straight road (the D6) to Puy-Saint-Martin. (Puy-Saint-Martin has some of the flora and fauna of Provence - Aleppo pines, olive trees, and cigales - but it's also at the foot of the Préalpes. There were Roman villas here, and superb mosaics have been found.)

Puy-Saint-Martin

Puy-Saint-Martin, by Toutaitanous, Licence CC BY-SA 3.0

Shortly after Puy-Saint-Martin, the riders tackle the first of the three climbs on the stage, the Côte de Puy-Saint-Martin.

Côte de Puy-Saint-Martin (Category 4)

The altitude at the start of the climb is about 205m, and at the top, it is 394m, giving a height gain of 189m. The ascent is over a distance of 3.6km, which means an average gradient of 5.2%.

Beyond the top of the climb, the route descends and passes the hamlet of la Répara, then continues on the D538 to Divajeu. (The name Divajeu comes from the Latin Deus adjuva, signifying a request to God to fulfil a wish. [Insert joke about Nibali imploring the heavens to make Aru fall off his bike]. It's a fortified village of 609 people.)

Countryside near Divajeu

Countryside near Divajeu, by jvanattenhoven, Flickr, Licence CC BY-ND 2.0

Next, the riders arrive at Crest, and cross the river Drôme on the D538, just to the west of the town centre.

Crest & the river Drome

Crest & the river Drome, by debs-eye, Flickr, Licence CC BY 2.0

From Crest, the race continues north on the D158, running alongside the TGV Sud-Est railway line between Lyon and Marseille. 

TGV

TGV from Valence, by Rob Dammers, Flickr, Licence CC BY 2.0

The next town of significance on the route is Chabeuil. The riders stay on the D538, which crosses the Véore river, and passes through the outskirts of Chabeuil, rather than the centre.

Chabeuil, tower/gate

Chabeuil, tower & gate into the town, by Morburre, Licence CC BY-SA 4.0

Another 5km of pedalling brings the riders to the village of Montélier. After that, the race continues north, alongside the Canal de la Bourne, to Alixan, 'capital of the circular villages of the Drôme'.

Alixan

Alixan, by jean-louis Zimmermann, Flickr, Licence CC BY 2.0

From Alixan, the race continues north on the D538, crossing the autoroute A49, then arriving at Bourg-de-Péage. Bourg-de-Péage is on the south (left) bank of the river Isère, and forms a contiguous urban area with Romans-sur-Isère, on the north bank. Stage 14 travels through the centre of Bourg-de-Péage on the D2532N, crosses the Isère on the pont Neuf, goes through the centre of Romans-sur-Isère, then leaves on avenue Jean Moulin/D538.

Pont Vieux, Romans-sur-Isère

Pont Vieux, Romans-sur-Isère, by Toutaitanous, Licence CC BY-SA 3.0

From Romans-sur-Isère, the riders go further north on the D538, through Mours-Saint-Eusèbe on the outskirts of Romans. The hills to the right are called les Coteaux de Mours, as the route continues to Peyrins. Leaving Peyrins, the riders pass the C17th Château du Gatelet. They continue north on the D538/route de Margès, cross the river Chalon, and reach Margès.

Margès

Margès, by Toutaitanous, Licence CC BY-SA 3.0

The race leaves Margès and crosses a little river called l'Herbasse, and another called the Limone at the hamlet of le Cabaret-Neuf. It follows the Limone for a distance, then starts to climb. This is the next categorised climb - the Côte du Four-à-Chaux.

Côte du Four-à-Chaux (Category 4)

The altitude at the bottom of the climb is about 305m, and at the top, it is 470m, giving a height gain of 165m. The climb is over a distance of 3.9km, which means an average gradient of 4.2%.

There's a locality near the village of Montchenu called le Four-à-Chaux, which means 'the lime kiln'. Le Four-à-Chaux is near the top of the climb.

After the summit, the D538 descends to the village of Hauterives, on the river Galaure.

Palais idéal, Hauterives

Palais idéal, Hauterives, by debs-eye, Flickr, Licence CC BY 2.0

The road climbs out of Hauterives. This is the third and final categorised climb of the day, the Côte de Hauterives.

Côte de Hauterives (Category 4)

The altitude at the start of the climb near Hauterives is 308m, and at the top, it is 424m, giving a height gain of 116m. The climb is over a distance of 2.1km, which means an average gradient of 5.5%.

From the top of the climb, the race descends to Lens-Lestang. From there, the terrain is flat, and the D538 crosses the Régrimet and Dolure streams. The race leaves the Drôme département, and enters the Isère; it crosses the railway line and the river Oron, and goes through the centre of Beaurepaire (one of the first villages in Europe to have electric lighting - Louis-Michel Villaz used a steam turbine, a dynamo, and arc lamps to light up the streets from 1883.)

Stage 14, Tour de France 2016: Beaurepaire to Binieux

Barrage de Jons, river Rhône

Barrage de Jons, by Benoît Prieur (Agamitsudo), Licence CC BY-SA 3.0

Stage 14 leaves Beaurepaire, still heading north, and still on the D538. It crosses the little river Derroy, and passes the hamlet of l'Embranchement, near the Medieval village of Revel-Tourdan. The road climbs to 460m near the Bois de Taravas (but this isn't a categorised climb), and crosses the TGV Sud-Est railway line. It descends a little to Cour-et-Buis.

Cour-et-Buis

Cour-et-Buis, by Axoukiller, Licence CC BY-SA 3.0

The riders leave Cour-et-Buis, crossing the river Varèze, and climbing away from the river (from about 340m to 440m). At the top of the rise, they come to a junction, where they take the right fork, the D38, past the Tour de Pinet (the one tower which remains of an C11th chateau). Then they descend, passing close to the Château de Montfort, to the village of Eyzin-Pinet. (In Roman times, two aqueducts took water from Eyzin-Pinet west-north-west to Vienne).

Just after Eyzin-Pinet, the race route crosses the river Gère, then the D502, to arrive in Moidieu-Détourbe. It continues on the D38 to Septème.

Château de Septème

Chateau de Septème

(Septème gets its name from the fact that, in Roman times, it was at the seventh borne milliaire - a stone marking seven thousand paces - on the route between Vienne and Milan. A Roman camp was established here, and the remnants of a Gallo-Roman mosaic have been found. The first Medieval castle was built here in the C11th, then it was replaced with the current edifice (photo above) in the C14th/15th. The village is set a little away from the château.)

After Septème, the riders cross the Véga river to le Péage, where they turn right on the D75/Voie Romaine, passing close to Oytier-Saint-Oblas. (In the same way that Septème's name indicates that it was the seventh milepost along the Roman Vienne-Milan road, Oytier's name reveals that it was at the eighth such marker. The word 'mile' comes from the Latin milia passuum, meaning 'one thousand paces'; a mile is 1,480m.)

The riders stay on the D75, which forks left before Diémoz (which gets its name from the twelfth Roman milepost on the Vienne-Milan road). The fork in the road comes at Lafayette, kilometre 145.5 on the day, and the location of the intermediate sprint.

Profile of the intermediate sprint on Stage 14, Tour de France 2016, at la Fayette

Profile of the intermediate sprint on Stage 14 at la Fayette, © A.S.O. Tour de France organisers

The D75 passes close to Saint-Quentin-Fallavier. The race is now skirting around the eastern edge of Lyon. It crosses the railway line, and turns right on the D311/boulevard de la Noirée, which takes the riders over the autoroute A43 near la Verpillière. The D311 becomes the D124, and reaches Satolas-et-Bonce ('le village où il fait bon vivre'; 2,266 people agree), near Lyon-Satolas airport. 

Town Hall, Satolas-et-Bonce

Town Hall, Satolas-et-Bonce, by François Goglins, Licence CC BY-SA 4.0

Here, it seems that the race takes the route des Etraits/C3 to a junction with the D29, leaving the Isère and entering the Rhône. This would have the handy consequence of avoiding the hamlet of Montcul, and all the associated jokes which could be made. In any event, the race reaches Chavagneux (which has an athletics track), then takes the D24A to Charvieu-Chavagneux

The route from Charvieu-Chavagneux is on the D24A to Pont-de-Chéruy. (Pont-de-Chéruy is on the river Bourbre. It has Roman origins - it was at a Roman crossroads, and a toll was charged to travellers. The ruins of a small Roman amphitheatre can be seen in Pont-de-Chéruy.)

In Pont-de-Chéruy, the riders turn left on the D517, go past the Lac de Fréminville, then head towards Villette-d'Anthon. (Villette-d'Anthon is a village with Roman origins, and 9,289 Roman coins were found here in 1990. It's by the Golf Club de Lyon.)

Barrage de Jons

Barrage de Jons, by Benoît Prieur (Agamitsudo), Licence CC BY-SA 3.0

There's a left turn in Villette-d'Anthon, on the D55/D6/D6E to Jons. Here, the route goes across the river Rhône near the Barrage de Jons, leaving the Rhône and entering l'Ain. (Because the départements are organised alphabetically, l'Ain is number one). The race passes the lac de Pyes, and follows the D61 past Niévroz. The riders cross the autoroute A42 at Dagneux, then go into the centre of Montluel (a town of 7,074 Montluistes).

Place Colbert, Montluel

Place Colbert, Montluel, by Benoît Prieur (Agamitsudo), Licence CC BY-SA 3.0

The race leaves Montluel on the D61 to Sainte-Croix, where it crosses the Sereine stream, and branches left on the D61C; after a short distance, it goes right on the D2. 

There's a large number of ponds or lakes in this area, as can be seen from this OpenStreetMap showing the route near the finish:

Map showing Tour de France 2016 Stage 14 route near the finish at Villars-les-Dombes

The riders pass the Etang Chevrier, the Etang Lalande, the Grand Etang de Birieux, and more besides. They reach Birieux, and they're on the final run-in to the finish at Villars-les-Dombes Parc des Oiseaux - only 7.5km away from the line.

Stage 14, Tour de France 2016: the finish at Villars-les-Dombes Parc des Oiseaux

Crane, Parc des Oiseaux, Villars-les-Dombes

Crane, Parc des Oiseaux Villars-les-Dombes, by Jean-Raphael Guillaumin, Flickr, Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

In Birieux, the riders turn left to Saint-Marcel-les-Dombes, then right on the N1083 to the finish at Parc des Oiseaux. The flat finish is likely to suit the sprinters. This profile shows the final five kilometres:

Profle of final kilometres of Stage 14, Tour de France 2016

Profile of final 5km of Stage 14, © A.S.O. Tour de France organisers 

Villars-les-Dombes' town website has practical information for the finish of Stage 14, but only on the French version of the site, and it includes this map of the finish:

Map of Stage 14, Tour de France 2016 finish at Villars Parc des Oiseaux

The Parc des Oiseaux at Villars-les-Dombes has hosted cycling events before, including the Tour de l'Ain, the Tour de l'Avenir, and the Critérium du Dapuhiné. Of course, the Tour de France will be an event on a much bigger scale.

Parakeets, Parc des Oiseaux, Villars-les-Dombes

Parakeets, Parc des Oiseaux, Villars-les-Dombes, by Jean-Raphael Guillaumin, Flickr, Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

Stage 14, Tour de France 2016: how the route was decided (perhaps)

I imagine the meeting about Stage 14 went something like this.

'Right, we have to get from Provence to somewhere near Bourg-en-Bresse, for the start of Stage 15. Let's just plough straight up the Rhône valley for 208km.'

'Won't it be a bit boring?'

'Look, we can't be at the top of the Col du Tourmalet every day for 3 weeks. We could go through Romans-sur-Isère, that's a nice place.'

'Yes, I like Romans-sur-Isère. What if the Mistral is blowing down the Rhône valley, it'll be awful for the riders having the wind in their faces all day.'

'We're not here to make things easy for the riders. Anyway, what do you think Ian Stannard is for? Can you think of a better idea?'

'Errr, no.'

'Right then, that's agreed. Up the Rhône valley into the wind, going through Romans-sur-Isère, with Ian Stannard on the front.'

Stage 14, Tour de France 2016: who will win?

Dylan Groenewegen

Dylan Groenewegen, by Jérémy-Gunther-Heinz Jähnick, Licence CC BY-SA 3.0

What will happen on Stage 14? This is what Christian Prudhomme thinks: 'The sprinters will probably have focused on taking it easy during the previous time-trial [on Stage 13]. Out of several factors, that precaution could condition their speed on the final straight. Add to that the fact that the final corridor could be struck by a strong head wind, which should condemn all breakaway attempts.'

So a bunch sprint is very likely. Time to shovel in a few bird sanctuary jokes. Maybe Marcel Kittel will swoop and take the victory; Stage 14 would be a feather in Dylan Groenewegen's cap; or could Mark Cavendish's wingman Edvald Boasson Hagen fly to first place on the day? You get the idea.

Stage 14, Tour de France 2016: Geraint Thomas's view

Geraint Thomas

Geraint Thomas, by Dacoucou, Licence CC BY-SA 4.0

Geraint Thomas, speaking to the BBC, gave his view on each stage before the Tour began. This is what he said about Stage 14: 'After two big general classification days, this is a day to recover as much as possible. There will be a srong breakaway group but it will probably come back together and end in a bunch sprint finish.'

Stage 15, Tour de France 2016

Grand Colombier from the Rhône

Stage 15 of the 2016 Tour de France is 160km from Bourg-en-Bresse to Culoz. It's a short but intense stage in the Jura mountains, with six categorised climbs. There's really no respite during the race - the riders are either going up or down for the whole afternoon. It finishes with a climb of the Col du Grand Colombier, then a circuit involving a descent to Anglefort, an ascent of the Lacets du Grand Colombier from Culoz, another descent to Anglefort, then a final flat run to Culoz. Read about Stage 15, Tour de France 2016

Stage 14, Tour de France 2016: sights and attractions on the route

Stage 14, Tour de France 2016: Montélimar

Tour de France roundabout, Montélimar

Tour de France roundabout, Montélimar, by M Minderhoud, Licence CC BY-SA 3.0

Montélimar is a town of 36,643 people in the Drôme département of France. It is referred to as the Portes de Provence (gateway to Provence). The inhabitants are called Montiliens.

The name Montélimar is a corruption of 'Mont des Adhémar', meaning hill of the Adhémar family. The Adhémar family is one of the oldest in the south of France, going back to 685AD. They were Viscounts of Marseille.

Montélimar is in the Rhône valley, immediately east of the Rhône canal. The rivers Jabron and Roubion flow through Montélimar, to their confluence with the Rhône.

The shape of the town results from two different influences. There's a crossroads in the centre, with a north-south road, and an east-west one; this shows the Gallo-Roman origins of the town. However, the centre of the town is surrounded by circular boulevards, on a Medieval pattern.

The site was occupied by a Celtic tribe called the Ségovéllaunes, but it came under Roman occupation from the C1st BC. At that time, the Roman town developed in the current location of the town centre. It was on the Via Agrippa, and there was a forum, a basilica, and thermal baths.

From the C7th to the C13th, Montélimar was ruled by the Adhémar family. Subsequently, it became a Papal possession, then passed to the Dauphiné, then the Prince of Monaco.

Much of the local economy is based on agriculture (including poultry, honey, and wine). Tourism also plays a significant role.

The town is known for its nougat de Montélimar (nuggit wi' nuts). Its production is an important part of the economy. (Nougat seems to have originated in the Middle East in the C10th, and has been made in Montélimar since 1701. It's made with almonds, honey, sugar, and beaten egg whites).

Montélimar nougat

Nougat de Montélimar, by Wolf Gang, Flickr, Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

The Medieval Château des Adhémar, on the edge of the town centre and near the river Roubion, is one of Montélimar's most imposing historic buildings

Montpellier is twinned with Aberdare (Wales), Ravensburg (Germany), Rivoli (Italy), Nabeul (Tunisia), and Racine (Wisconsin, USA).

Stage 14, Tour de France 2016: Cléon-d'Andran

Cléon d'Andran is a circular fortified village on the Andrans plain. 

The Andrans plain was inhabited in the Gallo-Roman period, and a large number of silver medals from that time have been discovered.

The C17th Italianate Château de Genas is on the north-western edge of Cléon.

There's an open-air swimming pool in Cléon.

Stage 14, Tour de France 2016: Crest

Tour de Crest

Tour de Crest, by jvanattenhoven, Flickr, Licence CC BY-ND 2.0

Crest is a town of 8,181 people on the river Drôme, which is dominated by its Medieval castle keep, the Tour de Crest. It is twinned with Cromer in Norfolk (UK).

The name Crest means crête, or rocky ridge, and refers to the rocky ridge to the north of the town.

Excavations have revealed Stone Age and Iron Age settlments here, as well as Gallo-Roman habitation.

In the Middle Ages, Crest had an imposing château, built by the Arnaud family in the C10th. It was dismantled under Louis XIII, leaving just the castle keep - the tallest in France, at 52m.

There's a jazz festival in Crest in August.

Stage 14, Tour de France: Chabeuil

Chabeuil, tower/gate

Chabeuil, tower & gate into the town, by Morburre, Licence CC BY-SA 4.0

Chabeuil is a town of 6,834 people on the river Véore, between the city of Valence (to the west) and the Vercors mountain range (to the east of Chabeuil).

The town originally developed within ciruclar ramparts, around a château, then spread further out. From 1247, it belonged to the Dauphiné, which was subsumed into France in 1349. It was given to the Prince of Monaco by Louis XIV, then recovered by France at the time of the Revolution (1789).

Chabeuil became prosperous in the C19th, with crafts and industries like spinning, paper-making, and saw-mills. Today, tourism also plays a role in the local economy. 

There are a number of historic buildings, including the fortified tower-gate into the town, dating from the C13th & C14th, which stands on Gallo-Roman foundations.

Stage 14, Tour de France 2016: Montélier & Alixan

Saint-Prix church, Montélier

Saint-Prix church, Montélier, by dsant, Licence CC BY-SA 3.0

Montélier is a village east of the city of Valence, on the Valentinois plain. 

The site was occupied by the Romans. The current village developed in the Middle Ages. The old centre is on a hill, and protected by ramparts, 50% of which are still standing. It's one of the northernmost perched villages.

One of the most imposing buildings in Montélier is the Saint-Prix church, which is relatively recent (late 1800s).

Alixan calls itself 'capital of the circular villages of the Drôme'. The village is in three circles around the centre, where the Mairie is housed in what remains of the C10th château.

It was first settled under the Romans. The land was probably given to a retired Roman soldier. Coins and tiles from the Roman period have been found.

The name Alixan appeared in the Middle Ages, in the late C10th or early C11th. It belonged to the Bishops of Valence, within the Holy Roman Empire. The Bishops lost their rights at the time of the French Revolution.

Today, the population of the commune is 2,473.

Alixan

Alixan, by jean-louis Zimmermann, Flickr, Licence CC BY 2.0

Stage 14, Tour de France 2016: Bourg-de-Péage

Romans-sur-Isère seen from Bourg-de-Péage

View of Romans-sur-Isère from Bourg-de-Péage, by Enneite, Flickr, Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

Bourg-de-Péage developed due to the bridge over the Isère. The monks (later canons of the Abbey of Saint-Barnard-de-Romans) built the bridge in 1033, and they demanded a toll to cross it, as well as money from boatmen on the river.

The bridge has been damaged by floods on many occasions. The current structure dates from the C18th, and it was widened in the C19th.

Bourg-de-Péage produced felt hats in the C19th, with as many as 400 workers in sixteen workshops. The felt was made from rabbit fur, sourced locally until the arrival of the railway in 1864. The industry declined from 1930, and the last workshop closed in 1985.

Bourg-de-Péage is twinned with East Grinstead (UK).

Stage 14, Tour de France 2016: Romans-sur-Isère

Pont Vieux, Romans-sur-Isère

Pont Vieux, Romans-sur-Isère, by Toutaitanous, Licence CC BY-SA 3.0

Romans-sur-Isère is a town of 33,632 people on the right bank of the river Isère, opposite Bourg-de-Péage.

The town developed near a ford of the Isère used by the Romans. There may well have been a Roman villa here, but there was no major Roman settlement. The name of the town may come from the name of the first parish: Saint-Romain.

Romans-sur-Isère, church of Saint-Barnard

Collegiate church of Saint-Barnard, Romans-sur-Isère, by Mbcmf217, Licence CC BY-SA 3.0

Romans-sur-Isère was founded as an Abbey in 838 by Barnard, Archbishop of the Vienne. In the C11th, the monks were replaced by canons of a collegiate church. Around the Saint-Barnard collegiate church, craftsmen and merchants set up a trade in cloth, which was significant for seven centuries.

The first bridge was built in the mid-C11th, and a toll brought money into the towns of Romans and Bourg.

The canons governed the town until 1280, when there was a revolt against them. Romans-sur-Isère became part of the Dauphiné in 1342; in 1349, the Dauphiné became part of France, under the Treaty of Romains, signed here.

Shoe at Romans-sur-Isère

Romans-sur-Isère, shoe, by Direction Centre Ville, Flickr, Licence CC BY 2.0

Romans-sur-Isère is known for manufacturing shoes - an industry which developed after 1850. Shoe manufacture flourished until the 1970s, when global competition forced a decline. Quality or luxury shoes are still produced, in smaller volumes. New industries have developed, including a company that sells nuclear fuel.

Romans-sur-Isère is known for ravioli - raviole du Dauphiné - pasta stuffed with cheese and parsley.

Coalville in Leicestershire (UK) is twinned with Romans.

Tour Jacquemart, Romans-sur-Isère

Tour Jacquemart, Romans-sur-Isère, by Direction Centre Ville, Flickr, Licence CC BY 2.0

Stage 14, Tour de France 2016: Hauterives

Palais idéal, Hauterives

Palais idéal, Hauterives, by debs-eye, Flickr, Licence CC BY 2.0

Hauterives is a village on the river Galaure, in the northern part of the Drôme, the 'Drôme des collines', and is between two hills which form the valley of the Galaure. It's known for its Palais Idéal.

The name Hauterives refers to the village's situation on a terrace on the right bank of the Galaure. An older version of the name was Altarippa.

In the Middle Ages, Hauterives was built around a château, and within ramparts. Only the ruins of the château, and one of four gates through the walls, remain.

Hauterives' economy depends on livestock farming, bee-keeping, and tourism, with many visitors coming to see the Palais idéal du Facteur Cheval. It was built by postman Ferdinand Cheval between 1879 and 1912, using stones that he picked up while delivering letters. The Palais idéal is a tomb, in the Hauterives cemetary, and Cheval is buried there. It's considered a curiosity of naive art.

Stage 14, Tour de France: Villars-les-Dombes & the Parc des Oiseaux

Church, Villars-les-Dombes

Eglise de la Nativité-de-la-Sainte-Vierge, Villars-les-Dombes, by Benoît Prieur, Licence CC BY-SA 4.0

Villars-les-Dombes is a village in the Ain département, set in a watery landscape of many ponds and lakes.

Silver medals found here, dating from the Roman period, show that it was inhabited at that time. In the Middle Ages, Villars-les-Dombes developed around its church, within circular defensive walls.

Parakeets, Parc des Oiseaux, Villars-les-Dombes

Parakeets, Parc des Oiseaux, Villars-les-Dombes, by Jean-Raphael Guillaumin, Flickr, Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

The lakes are excellent habitat for birds. The bird park, le Parc des Oiseaux, was opened in 1970, and is a protected reserve for birds. It also has a collection of more than 600 species, and 3,000 birds, for visitors to the park to see; and it plays a role in breeding endangered species.

Nougat, MontélimarCollegiate church, Romans-sur-IsèreCrane, Parc des Oiseaux, Villars-les-Dombes

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