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Stage 5, Tour de France 2016: Limoges to le Lioran

Téléphérique du Lioran

Téléphérique le Lioran, by Sylvain Naudin, Flickr, Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

A guide to Stage 5 of the Tour de France 2016. Stage 5 of the 2016 Tour is from Limoges to le Lioran, via St-Léonard-de-Noblat, Eymoutiers, Meymac, St-Angel, Neuvic, Mauriac, Anglars-de-Salers, and Salers. The distance covered is 216km. The race heads into the Massif Central, and it's classified as a mountain stage. There's an early climb of the Côte de Saint-Léonard-de-Noblat; the second climb, the Côte du Puy Saint-Mary comes just before the intermediate sprint at Mauriac. Then there are three climbs in quick succession before finish at the ski resort of le Lioran - the Pas de Peyrol, the Col du Perthus, and the Col de Font de Cère. (The final 3km are, though, downhill). It seems likely that one of the members of a breakaway will take the King of the Mountains jersey, and the early contenders for the yellow jersey may emerge. Read about Stage 5 of the Tour de France 2016 here.

Read the Stage 5 race report.

Stage 5, Tour de France 2016: facts, figures, and map

Stage 5 of the Tour de France 2016 is 216km from Limoges to le Lioran.

Stage classification Mountain
Distance 216km
Sprints Mauriac (144.5km)
Climbs Côte de Saint-Léonard-de-Noblat (Category 4)
Côte du Puy Saint-Mary (Category 3)
Col de Neronne (Category 3)
Pas de Peyrol (Category 2)
Col du Perthus (Category 2)
Col de Font de Cère (Category 3)

This is the official map of the route of Stage 5. (The Haute Vienne has a map of the section of Stage 5 which is in their département, as the race leaves Limoges. Le Populaire has a map showing the towns and villages on the route of Stage 5, with the timings.)

This is the official Tour de France profile of Stage 5:

Profile of Stage 5, Tour de France 2016

Profile of Stage 5, Tour de France 2016, © A.S.O. Tour de France organisers

Stage 5, Tour de France 2016: timings

These are some of the Stage 5 timings (based on the medium estimated speed of 38kmh):

Km Place Time
Départ fictif in Limoges (Champ de Juillet) 1125
0 Départ réel in Panazol 1135
13.5 St-Léonard-sur-Noblat 1156
43.5 Eymoutiers 1243
92 Meymac 1400
117.5 Neuvic 1440
142.5 Côte du Puy Saint-Mary (Category 3) 1520
144.5 Mauriac (sprint) 1523
164.5 Salers 1554
173.5 Col de Neronne (Category 3) 1612
185 Pas de Peyrol (Category 2) 1623
201.5 Col du Perthus (Category 2) 1650
213.5 Col de Font de Cère (Category 3) 1709
216 Finish at le Lioran 1713

See the full timings for Stage 5 on the official Tour de France website, based on average speeds of 40, 38, and 36kmh.

Stage 5, Tour de France 2016: the start at Limoges

Gare de Limoges-Bénédictins from Champ de Juillet

Gare de Limoges-Bénédictins seen from the Champ de Juillet, by Patrick Nouhailler, Flickr, Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

Stage 5 starts in Limoges, an historic town on the river Vienne. There are details of the route and timings on the Limoges town website. The riders will set off from the Champ de Juillet (by Limoges-Bénédictins station) at 1125. They'll take avenue de la Liberation, boulevard Carnot, carrefour Tourny, avenue Georges Perrin, boulevard Louis Blanc, place Léon Betoulle, then (back on the route of Stage 4, but going out of Limoges instead of into it) avenue Georges Dumas, avenue du Maréchal Lattre de Tassigny, and the road to Panazol.

This map shows the route of Stage 5 of the Tour de France 2016 at the start in Limoges:

Map of the route of Stage 5, Tour de France 2016, in Limoges

Map showing the route of Stage 5, Tour de France 2016, at the start in Limoges, © OpenStreetMap contributors

The Conseil Départementale de la Haute Vienne lists the communes along the first part of the route; after Limoges and Panazol: Saint-Just-le-Martel (les Chabannes), Royères, Saint-Léonard-de-Noblat, Bujaleuf, Augne (Négrignas), Eymoutiers, and Nedde (Plainartige).

Stage 5, Tour de France 2016: Limoges to Meymac

Hotel de Ville, Limoges

Hotel de Ville de Limoges, by Matt Brown, Flickr, Licence CC BY 2.0

Leaving Limoges on the D941, the race passes through the suburb of Panazol, which is where the racing starts (le départ réel). It continues to les Chabannes and Royères, then crosses the river Vienne to St-Léonard-de-Noblat

St-Leonard-de-Noblat

Saint-Léonard-de-Noblat, by Patrick Nouhailler, Flickr, Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

St-Léonard-de-Noblat is the home town of Raymond Poulidor, French national champion in 1961, and on the podium at the Tour de France on eight occasions, without ever winning it. Aged 80, he still goes mountain biking on the local trails.

Anquetil & Poulidor

Jacques Anquetil (left) and Raymond Poulidor, 1966 Tour de France, by Chris Protopapas, Flickr, Licence CC BY 2.0

Côte de Saint-Léonard-de-Noblat (Category 4)

The riders leave Saint-Léonard-de-Noblat, climbing on the D13 rue Jean Moulin/route de Bujaleuf, then the D14. This is the first categorised climb of the day, a 4th Category ascent of the Côte de Saint-Léonard-de-Noblat over a distance of 1.7km. The height at the start of the climb, just after the river Vienne, is 267m, and at the top it is 356m, giving a height gain of 89m, and an average gradient of 5.2%.

The route then descends to cross the river Maulde (which is where it enters the Parc Naturel Régional de Millevaches Limousin), and on the other side of the river, it climbs to Bujaleuf (a village on the shore of an artificial lake, le Lac de Sainte-Hélène, made by damming the river Maulde). Next on the route is the hamlet of Négrignas, then the D14 leads to Eymoutiers.

Eymoutiers

Eymoutiers, by Patrick Nouhailler, Flickr, Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

Stage 5 leaves Eymoutiers on the D940 to Plainartige and (having left the Haute Vienne département, and entered the Corrèze) Lacelle. It then takes the D979 to Viam and Bugeat.

Espace Mille Sources, Bugeat

Espace Mille Sources, Bugeat, by Christophe Delattre

(Bugeat is a village on the river Vézère. It has a sports centre called the Espace Milles Sources. It was set up by Alain Mimoun, a Frenchman of Algerian origin who won the 1956 Olympic marathon in Melbourne. After he died in 2013, the sports centre was renamed the Espace Mille Sources Alain Mimoun).

Mont Bessou panoramic tower

Panoramic tower, Mont Bessou, by sjwells53, Licence CC BY-SA 3.0

The next village after Bugeat is Pérols-sur-Vézère. From Pérols, the road climbs, with the Puy Pêndu (973m) to the left and Mont Bessou (976m) to the right. (Mont Bessou has a tour panoramique, 26m high, with 188 steps, which gives a good view from the top.) The D36 then takes the riders down to Meymac.

Meymac

Meymac, by akial, Flickr, Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

Stage 5, Tour de France 2016: Meymac to the Col de Font de Cère

View of Pas de Peyrol from Puy Mary

Pas de Peyrol from Puy Mary, by Benoit Kornmann, Licence CC BY-SA 3.0

Leaving Meymac, the riders continue on the D979 towards St-Angel. (St-Angel is a village of 691 people built on a rocky spur above the little Triouzoune river. It grew around the Priory of St-Michel-des-Anges, hence its name; the priory church dominates the village). Here, they turn right on the D1089 for a short distance, then left on the little D171, which takes them out of the Millevaches en Limousin regional natural park.

Neuvic

Neuvic pierre de lave émaillée, by aurielalbert, Flickr, Licence CC BY 2.0

Neuvic is the next village on the route. 

Barrage of the Triouzoune at Neuvic

Barrage of the Triouzoune at Neuvic, by Père Igor, Licence CC BY-SA 4.0

(Neuvic is on the edge of the Forêt de la Vergne, at an altitude of about 630m. It's by a lake created by a barrage of the river Triouzoune, the barrage de Neuvic; the barrage controls the flow of water used to generate electricity at a hydroelectric power plant at Sérandon. The lake is also used for recreation. The name Neuvic comes from the Latin novus vicus, meaning new town. This is not an imaginative name. Neuvic has a museum dedicated to wartime resistance, and a park called the Arboretum du Chateau de Neuvic d'Ussel).

Gorges de la Dordogne

Gorges de la Dordogne, by Olivier Bacquet, Flickr, Licence CC BY 2.0

The race route out of Neuvic is on the D982, and it leads to the Gorges de la Dordogne. The riders cross the Dordogne on the pont de St-Projet, a 195m suspension bridge opened in 1945. Here, they leave the Corrèze, and enter the Cantal. 

Pont Saint-Projet

Pont Saint-Projet, by Est Ter, Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

After crossing the Dordogne, the route is on the D682 along the course of the Labiou (a tributary of the Dordogne), and 2km after the bridge, the next climb starts, the Côte du Puy Saint-Mary. 

Côte du Puy Saint-Mary (Category 3)

The climbing starts as the D682 veers away from the Labiou; it passes close to the ruins of the Chateau de Miremont; the route then continues to a crossroads at la Besse, where it takes the D678 to the top of the climb, 2km before Mauriac.

The altitude at the bottom of the Côte du Puy Saint-Mary is about 440m; at the top, it is 704m. That means a height gain of 264m, over a distance of 6.8km, which gives an average gradient of 3.9%.

The Puy Saint-Mary itself is a little hill on the left, just before Mauriac; the race doesn't go up it, it just lends its name to the climb.

Balcon en fer forgé, Mauriac

Balcon en fer forgé, Mauriac, by Olivier Bacquet, Flickr, Licence CC BY 2.0

The day's intermediate sprint is at Mauriac.

Profile of the sprint on Stage 5, Tour de France 2016, at Mauriac

Leaving Mauriac, the D122 takes the race into the Parc Naturel Régional des Volcans d'Auvergne. It goes through Anglards-de-Salers (which has a C12th church dedicated to Saint-Thyrse, and the C15th Chateau de la Trémolière), then Salers.

Salers, Cantal

Salers, by Patrick Nouhailler, Flickr, Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

(Salers is a village overlooking the valley of the Maronne. It was ruled by the Barons of Salers from the C11th, and more than one of the barons took part in the Crusades. Salers was fortified with walls in the C15th. In 1666, Baron François de Salers put an enemy to death without the authorisation of the King, and as a result, he lost his title, and his chateau was demolished. There's a Salers breed of cattle, and Salers is a type of Cantal cheese.)

Vache Salers

Vache Salers, by jacme31, Flickr, Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

Col de Neronne (Category 3)

Puy Violent

Puy Violent, seen from Salers, by B Navez, Licence CC BY-SA 3.0

Leaving Salers on the D680, the riders begin the ascent of the Col de Neronne (Category 3). This col is the link between the Maronne valley and the Mars valley. They climb with the not-so-charmingly-named Puy Violent (1592m) to their right. (In fact its name is a corruption of the Occitan Pueg Bialant, which may mean something like 'bleating mountain', and refer to the large flocks of sheep which were grazed here). 

The altitude at the start of the climb 2km after Salers is about 1,030m, and at the top it's 1,242m at the top, giving a height gain of 212m. The distance is 7.1km, which means an average gradient of 3%. There's an inn at the top, the Auberge du Col de Neronne.

Beyond the Col de Neronne, continuing on the D680, the road skirts around the Roc du Merle, then there's a section called the Cirque du Falgoux, on the edge of a forest, following the river Mars back towards its source. By the foot of the climb of the Pas de Peyrol, the road has dropped around 100m. 

Peyrol, Perthus, & Font de Cère climbs profile

Profile of the climbs of Pas de Peyrol, Col du Perthus, & Col de Font de Cère, © A.S.O. Tour de France organisers

Pas de Peyrol (Puy Mary) (Category 2)

View of Pas de Peyrol from Puy Mary

Pas de Peyrol from Puy Mary, by Benoit Kornmann, Licence CC BY-SA 3.0

The climb of the Pas de Peyrol (Category 2) begins now. It starts at 1150m and the summit is 1589m, giving a height difference of 439m. The distance is 5.4km, making an average gradient of 8.1%. It's particularly steep (15%) near the top. 

This col is between two summits - the Puy de la Tourte (1704m) and the Puy Mary (1787m). There's a restaurant at the Pas de Peyrol, and la Maison du Site, which is a tourist office/exhibition explaining the volcanic formation of the mountains here. Steps lead to the top of the Puy Mary.

Puy Mary from the Pas de Peyrol

Puy Mary from the Pas de Peyrol, by Patrick Nouhailler, Flickr, Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

From the Pas de Peyrol, the riders take the D17 to the Col de Redondet (1531m, so there is a little more climbing), then down to Mandailles-St-Julien (960m) near the head of the Jordanne valley. This is where the ascent of the Col du Perthus (Category 2) begins. 

Col du Perthus (Category 2)

The altitude at the start of the climb is 960m, and the summit is at 1309m, giving a height difference of 349m. The distance is 4.4km, which means an average gradient of 7.9%. 

In early May, Romain Bardet (AG2R) did a reconnaissance of the final part of Stage 5, from Mandailles-St-Julien, via the Col du Perthus, to the finish at le Lioran. France 3 has a full report. They say that this stage is more or less a 'home' stage for Bardet. (He was born in Brioude, in the Haute Loire, not a million miles from here, and he lives in Clermont Ferrand). 'It'll be special for me, with my in-laws at the start, and my own family at the finish, on roads I know by heart.' As for Stage 5, he won't say where he might attack. 'I have an idea, but I won't tell you my battle-plan straight away - the others would read about it.' 

This video shows Bardet on the reconnaissance/press day, with a sponsor's ambassadeur, Marion Rousse:

From the Col du Perthus, there's a descent to St-Jacques-des-Blats (998m), where the riders turn left on the N122, which takes them gently uphill alongside the Cère. They turn left on the D67 before the Tunnel du Lioran, then left again on a minor road to climb the Col de Font de Cère (Category 3; 1294m). 

Col de Font de Cère (Category 3)

The Col de Font de Cère (meaning the col of the sources of the Cère) is less challenging than the Pas de Peyrol and the Col du Perthus. The start is a little after St-Jacques-des-Blats, at about 1100m; the riders climb to 1294m at the top, a height gain of 194m. The distance is 3.3km, which means an average gradient of 5.8%.

There's a hotel at the top, le Buron de Font de Cère. It's nearly all downhill from here.

Stage 5, Tour de France 2016: the finish at le Lioran

Monts du Cantal & Super Lioran

Monts du Cantal & Super Lioran, by Peter Stevens, Flickr, Licence CC BY 2.0

The finish of Stage 5 of the Tour de France 2016 is at le Lioran. From the Col de Font de Cère the riders follow the road down through the woods. It's called the route Impériale, but as can be seen from the Romain Bardet video above, it's not really fit for an Emperor or Empress - it's a very minor road. The finish line is 3km after the Col, at le Lorian

Ouest France has this map showing the exact route near the finish in le Lorian:

Map of finish of Stage 5 in le Lorian

It does appear from the profile of the final kilometres that the cruel race organisers have put in an uphill drag to the finish in the last kilometre.

Profile of last kilometres of Stage 5, Tour de France 2016

Profile of the last 6km of Stage 5, © A.S.O. Tour de France organisers

What will happen on Stage 5? It's a long and lumpy stage. There's likely to be a breakaway, with the King of the Mountains jersey at stake for the breakaway riders who stay out front longest. The toughest climbing comes near the end. Will a breakaway survive, or will the GC contenders battle it out for the stage win? Answers on a postcard with a nice picture of the Volcans d'Auvergne on the other side.

Stage 5, Tour de France 2016: analysis of the stage by the race organisers

Romain Bardet

Romain Bardet, by Laurie Beylier, Flickr, Licence CC BY-ND 2.0

As part of a series, in which the Tour de France organisers analyse six key stages of the 2016 race, Stage 5 has been put under their microscope.

Stage 5 is the first mountain stage of the race, and the terrain on the raod to le Lioran is described as an 'intermediate mountain range'. The steep climbs in the final 40km could be a launchpad for those climbers who are feeling good on the day.

The downhill sections shouldn't be forgotten, and in particular, the descent of the Col du Perthus could turn out to be what the race organisers describe as 'a world descending championship', with the yellow jersey potentially at stake. Romain Bardet is a good descender as well as a good climber, and he has an added incentive, because he's the local lad: he learnt to ski at le Lioran, and his grandma lives in nearby Murat.

Other riders identified as possible favourites for Stage 5 are Dan Martin, Wilco Kelderman, Adam Yates, Warren Barguil, Rui Costa, and Andrew Talansky.

Le Lioran in Tour de France history

In 1975, Stage 13 of the Tour de France was 260km from Albi to Super Lioran. The day's winner was Belgian Michel Pollentier. The riders were so exhausted that l'Equipe's reporter Antoine Blondin wrote, 'Arise, the dead! Rise up on your pedals!'

Stage 6, Tour de France 2016 Arpajon-sur-Cère to Montauban

Montauban

Stage 6 of the 2016 Tour de France is from Arpajon-sur-Cère to Montauban. It covers a distance of 190.5km, between the rolling roads of the Massif Central near the start, and the flatter terrain closer to the finish in Montauban. The riders go through historic towns and villages like Villefranche-de-Rouergue and Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val. It's likely to come down to a bunch sprint to decide the stage. Read about Stage 6, Tour de France 2016.

Stage 5, Tour de France 2016: sights and attractions on the route

Stage 5, Tour de France 2016: Limoges

Gare de Limoges-Bénédictins

Gare de Limoges-Bénédictins, by Patrick Nouhailler, Flickr, Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

Limoges is a town on the river Vienne known for its Medieval and Renaissance enamels (on copper), its C19th porcelain, and for oak barrels used for Cognac and Bordeaux production.

Pont St-Etienne, Limoges

Limoges - Pont St-Etienne sur la Vienne, by Frédérique Voisin-Demery, Flickr, Licence CC BY 2.0

The city was founded by the Romans around 10BC, as Augustoritum, meaning the ford of Augustus. It had an amphitheatre, a theatre, a forum, baths, and a temple. The names Limoges is derived from the Gaulish tribe which lived here, the Lemovices.

Cathédrale St-Etienne, Limoges

Cathédrale Saint-Etienne, Limoges, by Frédérique Voisin-Demery, Flickr, Licence CC BY 2.0

Limoges was evangelised by St Martial around 250AD. The Abbey St Martial was founded in the C9th, but destroyed at the time of the French Revolution.

Kaolinite (a rock rich in fine, white clay) was discovered near Limoges in 1768, and this enabled a porcelain industry to develop. There were strikes in local shoe and porcelain factories in 1905, which led to the formation of the first Union in France, the CGT.

Limoges is twinned with Charlotte (North Carolina, USA).

Stage 5, Tour de France 2016: Saint-Léonard-de-Noblat

St-Leonard-de-Noblat

Saint-Léonard-de-Noblat, by Patrick Nouhailler, Flickr, Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

Saint-Léonard-de-Noblat is a town of 4,630 people, east of Limoges. 

It gets its name from Saint Léonard, a hermit who may have lived in the area in the C6th, and around whose tomb the town grew. Léonard is the patron saint of prisoners.

The inhabitants of the town are called Miaulétous. This name is said to come from a red kite which nested in the bell tower of the collegiate church of St Léonard: red kites are called milans in French, and miaula in the local Limousin occitane dialect. Another possibility is that the name comes from the occitane diminuitive for Leonard, which would be liaunetou; it's common to invert the consonants in the local dialect, which could produce niauletou.

There was a ford here before the Roman conquest, on an important route between Bourges and Bordeaux.

St Léonard appears for the first time in a history of his life written in the C11th. According to that history, he began his life at the court of King Clovis at the end of the C5th. He was granted the right to visit prisoners, and to release some of them. He then left court, and came here to the forest of Pauvain to live as a hermit. He built a chapel, and on his death, he was buried there. The chapel became a place of pilgrimmage, and amongst the pilgrims who visited it was Richard the Lionheart. 

The story of St Léonard may not have a sound historical basis, but the town which bears his name grew here, and a bridge was built on the site of the earlier ford of the river. Around the year 1000, a first castle was built. The town became an important stop on the route of the pilgrimmage to Santiago de Compostela. Town walls were constructed in the C12th.

In the 1500s and 1600s, convents were founded in Saint-Léonard-de-Noblat, as well as brotherhoods of 'penitents'.

As at Limoges, porcelain was made here. Other traditional trades and industries include making massepains (a type of macaroon), leather-work for shoes, and paper mills.

Collegiate church of St Léonard-de-Noblat

Collegiate church of Saint-Léonard-de-Noblat, by Patrick Nouhailler, Flickr, Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

One of the main sights is the collegiate church of Saint-Léonard, which dates from the C11th, and is in the Limousin Romanesque style. The pont Noblat, over the river Vienne, dates from the C13th.

Old bridge, St-Leonard-de-Noblat

Old bridge, St-Léonard-de-Noblat, by Patrick Nouhailler, Flickr, Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

There's a museum dedicated to chemist Gay-Lussac, and a railway museum.

Anquetil & Poulidor

Jacques Anquetil (left) and Raymond Poulidor, 1966 Tour de France, by Chris Protopapas, Flickr, Licence CC BY 2.0

Raymond Poulidor (b. April 1936 to a farming family in the Limousin; nicknamed Pou-pou) wasn't born in Saint-Léonard, but it is his adopted home. He was French national champion in 1961, and made the podium of the Tour de France on eight occasions, although he never won it. His big rivalry was with Jacques Anquetil. Although Poulidor didn't beat Anquetil in the Tour de France, he was more popular with the French public. 

Poulidor is often to be found on the local mountain bike trails, or doing his shopping in town, and the Miaulétous generally don't bother him.

Stage 5, Tour de France 2016: Eymoutiers

View of Eymoutiers

View of Eymoutiers, by Babsy, Licence CC BY 3.0

Eymoutiers is a picturesque town on the upper reaches of the river Vienne. It was founded by St Psalmet, who was born in Ireland in the C6th, and came to the Limousin seeking solitude. His pesky habit of performing miracles meant that people flocked around him, and solitude was hard to come by. He therefore went deep into the forest, and lived as a hermit, reciting psalms (hence the name Psalmet). He died around 630, and was buried on the site of Eymoutiers. A little church and monastery were built by his tomb, and the town developed around these buildings. Eymoutiers means 'monastery at the foot of a hill.'

Eymoutiers was known for its tanneries, with twenty of them in 1862. They benefited from the large number of cows and goats at local farms, producing an abundant supply of skins, and from the pure water of the Vienne. All the tanneries were on the river bank.

Eglise St-Etienne, Eymoutiers

Collegiate church of St-Etienne, Eymoutiers, by Patrick Nouhailler, Flickr, Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

Stage 5, Tour de France 2016: Meymac

Meymac

Meymac, by akial, Flickr, Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

Meymac is a town of 2,434 people on the river Luzège. It probably gets its name from a Roman called Maximus, plus the suffix -acum (place). A monastery was founded here in 1085, and when it acquired the relics of St Léger, pilgrims began to visit. 

There was active resistance in this area during World War II, by the maquis du Limousin. In February 1944, they blew up a train transporting arms and equipment, on the Viaduc des Farges just west of Meymac, in order to block the rail route.

Meymac has a school of forestry. A short distance south of Meymac is the mine des Chèzes, which was a bismuth mine. Bismuth is a pentavalent post-transition metal similar to arsenic, but you knew that already.

Abbaye Saint-André, Meymac

Abbaye de Saint-André, Meymac, by akial, Flickr, Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

Stage 5, Tour de France 2016: Mauriac

Mauriac from lac Val St-Jean

Mauriac from lac Val Saint-Jean

Mauriac is a very old town. It began as a village on a stream called rieu Mauri (now ruisseau St-Jean). It developed as a town in the C1st because it was on a Roman north-south route. In the C7th, a monastery was founded in the town, now referred to as Vicus de Mauriac. A new monastery and the church of Notre-Dame-des-Miracles were built in the C12th. Mauriac was visited by many pilgrims at this time. The church still stands, and has the status of a basilica. 

Tourism forms a large part of the local economy, and is centred around the lake, golf course, and Camping Val St-Jean. One of the popular walks in Mauriac is up to the C19th chapel on top of the Puy St-Mary (not to be confused with another volcanic peak, the Puy Mary, which comes later in the route).

Chapelle du Puy St-Mary, Mauriac

Chapelle du Puy St-Mary, Mauriac, by Nounours15, Flickr, Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

Stage 5, Tour de France 2016: le Lioran

Téléphérique du Lioran

Téléphérique le Lioran, by Sylvain Naudin, Flickr, Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

Le Lioran is a resort in the monts du Cantal (also known as the Volcan du Cantal), the Parc Naturel Régional des Volcans d'Auvergne, and the Massif Central.

It is at the head of the Alagnon valley, and surrounded by mountains: the Plomb du Cantal (1855m) to the south, the Puy Griou (1694m) to the west, and the Puy de Bataillouse (1683m) and the Roche de Vascivières (1700m) to the north.

The lower slopes are forested, and the peaks are open and exposed. There's skiing in the winter, and walking and mountain biking in the summer. 

The area is rich in fauna. There are red and other types of deer, wild boar, mouflons, marmottes, chamois, and even wolves.

Monts du Cantal & Super Lioran

Monts du Cantal & Super Lioran, by Peter Stevens, Flickr, Licence CC BY 2.0

Until the end of the C18th, the area was little visited by people. There were deep woods populated by bears and wolves, and snow on the col for a large part of the year. Then, the Route Royale (now the N122) was built, and it became more accessible. The road tunnel under the Col de Font de Cère was built from 1839 to 1843, and a railway was constructed in 1865.

Le Lioran began to develop as a tourist resort with the opening of its first hotel in 1896. Skiing began in 1906, and the Ski Club du Lorian was founded in 1908.

There was active resistance here during World War II, culminating in the Bataille du Lorian in August 1944.

Super Lioran

Station le Lioran, by Sylvain Naudin, Flickr, Licence CC BY-SA 2.0

The first ski lift was installed in 1947, and the most significant, la Plomb du Cantal, was opened by President Georges Pompidou in 1967. As well as downhill skiing, there are cross-country ski trails.

The Plomb du Cantal cable car and the Masseboeuf chairlift are used for mountain biking in the summer. Le Lioran is the biggest mountain biking area in the Massif Central, with 16 trails totalling more than 100km, and a Bike Park.

Hotel de Ville, LimogesGorges de la DordogneTéléphérique du Lioran

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