2015 Tour de France: from the Nord region to the French Channel coast
Once it leaves the Netherlands, the peloton will cross Belgium before reaching France’s Nord Pas de Calais region. Here, it will cycle through Picardy and along the Channel coast, passing through Normandy, a region full of history and commemorative sites.
Stage 5 (Wednesday 8 July): Arras > Amiens (189.5km)
Stage 6 (Thursday 9 July): Abbeville > Le Havre (191.5km)
Arras (Pas de Calais / Nord Pas de Calais)
Arras is a city that history has not spared. Caught up in the middle of fighting during the First World War, the birthplace of the revolutionary Robespierre was completely destroyed but has been rebuilt just as it was.
Arras bears witness to its past even in its mysterious underground "boves", a network of old galleries and chalk quarries that can now be visited by tourists.
In July every year the city hosts the Main Square Festival, attracting major names from the world of pop and rock such as Pharrell Williams and Lenny Kravitz.
Things to do around Arras
- Explore part of the four commemorative routes relating to the First World War.
Amiens (Somme / Picardy)
From Arras, riders will then head for Picardy, arriving in Amiens, where the writer Jules Verne once lived. A town full of culture, it is home to the largest cathedral in France, Notre-Dame d’Amiens. This splendid masterpiece of Gothic architecture is a listed UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Things to do around Amiens
- Pay homage to Australian troops who died during the First World War at the National Australian Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux (20min drive).
- Walk through the 28 underground galleries in the subterranean city of Naours (20min drive).
- Admire part of the collection from the Louvre Museum in Paris at the Musée du Louvre-Lens (1hr 10min drive).
Abbeville (Somme / Picardy)
The tour’s next stop is Abbeville, which boasts of having the oldest belfry in France. 27m high, it is home to the Boucher de Perthes museum, a must for visitors interested in prehistory and archaeological remains.
Things to do around Abbeville
- Take a beach break at either Le Crotoy or Fort-Mahon-Plage (25min and 35min drive respectively).
- Explore the Somme Bay and its important protected nature reserves, just 10km from Abbeville. Here, you’ll find a network of small lakes, marshland, dunes and salt meadows, the waters of which flow out into the Channel (30min drive).
Le Havre (Seine Maritime / Upper Normandy)
The peloton will then hurtle across the landscapes of the Normandy coast, where the colour and light have provided inspiration for many Impressionist painters (Degas, Monet) and writers (Delacroix, Colette).
This year’s route also provides an opportunity to discover Le Havre, a port town that has been rebuilt successfully following the disasters that befell it during the Second World War. Its main highlights are its extensive port and its astonishing neo-Gothic Saint-Joseph church, built after WW2 and visible from afar.
Another sight not to be missed is the Musée d’Art Moderne André Malraux (MuMa), where you can admire canvases by the great masters of the 19C and 20C, such as Monet, Boudin, Degas and Dubuffet.
Things to do around Le Havre
- Walk to the Cap de la Hève and watch paragliders launch themselves from the top of the cliffs here (10min drive).
- Admire the famous cliffs of Etretat, the majesty of which has inspired the great Impressionist painters, beginning with Claude Monet (35min drive).
- Make a stop in Rouen, where you can visit the tallest cathedral in France, the brand-new Joan of Arc historical exhibition, and the Panorama XXL centre (1hr drive).