Date: Wednesday, July 7 2010
From/to: Cambria to Reims
Start town: Cambrai
Cambrai (34,000 inhabitants) is situated in the Escaut Valley, bordered by the Hainaut and Artois plateaux and the vast rolling plains typical of the region. The gateway to northern France, its privileged location made the town a centre of trade and influence.
A sub-prefecture, a university town and the heart of the local agglomeration, Cambrai is the urban centre of the south-west of the département. It boasts some remarkable architecture, the legacy of a history spanning more than seventeen centuries. Its fortifications, religious monuments, town houses and art-deco style buildings bear witness to its past and create a sense of continuity between yesterday and today. Cambrai is a pleasant place to live, with lots of green areas, rich culinary traditions, and a range of festivals and events.
The town is building its future on the foundations of its established expertise, in areas such as textiles and agro-food. To mark the arrival of the Tour de France, the windows of the Town Hall will be decorated with photos of the “Marianne” statues from all of the stage towns in the 2010 event.
Finish town: Reims
Reims is known as the city of Champagne and the former coronation site of French kings. Bordered by the prestigious slopes of the Montagne de Reims, it is home to many famous champagne houses.
The coronation site (in memory of Clovis’ baptism by Bishop Rémi in 489) of French kings (with three exceptions) from 1027 to 1825, Reims is proud of its cathedral, dating back to the 12th century and a symbol of the gothic period at its height. Since 1991, Notre-Dame cathedral has been a UNESCO world heritage site, as has the Palais du Tau, the former palace of the city’s archbishop, the Basilica of Saint-Rémi and the royal abbey of the same name which housed the Holy Ampulla (Sainte Ampoule) used for royal coronations.
Every year, 20,000 students attend the city’s universities, colleges and institutes. The opening of the TGV high-speed train line in 2007 has cut the journey time to Paris to just 45 minutes and links the city to around ten international destinations. The new tramway line scheduled for completion in 2011 will transport its citizens around the city.