Date: Friday, July 16 2010
From/to: Bourg-de-Péage to Mende
Start town: Bourg-de-Péage
Located at the crossroads of major motorway and railway routes, Bourg-de-Péage owes its destiny and name to the presence of the bridge over the Isère River built in the Middle Ages for the Abbey of Saint-Barnard de Romans.
The reverends charged feudal duties for the toll, bridge crossing or levy on goods against a guarantee for maintaining it. The town acquired a solid reputation in the 19th century thanks to its production of felt hats, made from the fur of pet rabbits. The firm Maison Mossant, the largest factory, employed more than 1,200 workers at its peak and made Bourg-de- Péage the capital of hat-making.
Today, following the decline of this industry, new businesses have set up and develop innovative technology. This expansion has been made easier by the town’s proximity to the TGV Rhône- Alpes-Sud high-speed rail link station. With a rich associative, sporting, cultural and social fabric, the inhabitants of Bourg-de-Péage can also benefit from the 12 hectares of the Bois de Naix woods, the second biggest urban park in the Rhône-Alpes region.
Finish town: Mende
In the heart of the Lozère area, at the gateway to the Gorges of the Tarn, the Causses, the Aubrac and the Cevennes, Mende boasts a privileged position and a superb quality of life.
Originally named Mimata probably in reference to the mountains that surround it, Mende has maintained a rich heritage from its history, in particular its 14th century gothic cathedral, Notre-Dame-et-Saint-Privat, surrounded by a charming medieval district with narrow streets or the 13th century Notre-Dame Bridge. Indeed, along with 21 other municipalities forming the Mende and Lot in Gévaudan area, it has been awarded the Land of Art and History label.
Looking toward the future with a preserved environment, Mende is a dynamic town that is currently creating a business park for the arrival of new companies. Twice elected the “most sporting town in France”, Mende and its 80 sports clubs boast a wide range of facilities and the town is even home to the Lozère Multi-sports Centre, which enables young pretenders to high level sporting competition to combine their passion with schooling.
Tour de France 2010: Cycling Weekly’s coverage index