2015 Tour de France: from the Pyrenees to the Alps
On 17 July, riders will leave the Pyrenees and head to the Alps. Along their route, they will cross the Massif Central which, in addition to being the most extensive mountain range in France, is also the largest volcanic area in Europe. Welcome to the magnificent natural landscapes of the Languedoc-Roussillon, Rhône-Alpes and Provence!
Stage 13 (Friday 17 July): Muret > Rodez (198.5km)
Stage 14 (Saturday 18 July): Rodez > Mende (178.5km)
Stage 15 (Sunday 19 July): Mende > Valence (183km)
Stage 16 (Monday 20 July): Bourg-de-Péage > Gap (201km)
Rest day (Tuesday 21 July): Gap
Muret (Haute-Garonne / Midi Pyrénées)
Stage 13 of the Tour will depart from Muret, south of Toulouse. Birthplace of the first pioneer in the world of aviation, Clément Ader, it is home to a museum dedicated to him, the Musée Clément Ader & les Grands Hommes.
Things to do around Muret
- A visit to Toulouse, a city renowned for the red brick and terracotta roofs of its many fascinating buildings, such as the famous Capitole, and its lively square. The "ville rose" is also Europe’s aviation and space capital, as witnessed by the Cité de l’Espace and the Musée Aéroscopia (30min drive).
- Gaze in wonder at the 3km of ramparts in Carcassonne, the largest medieval city in Europe and a UNESCO World Heritage Site (1hr 10min drive).
- Also in Carcassonne you can admire the Saint Nazaire basilica, the Château Comtal and the old bridge, with its panoramic views of the Cité.
- Embark on a journey back in time to Narbonne, a city with 2,500 years of history from Antiquity, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and the golden age of wine at the end of the 19th century (1hr40min drive).
Rodez (Aveyron / Midi-Pyrénées)
The arrival town for the 13th stage, Rodez is a must-see stop on any tour of the Midi-Pyrénées region. This is the birthplace of Pierre Soulages, an artist renowned, in particular, for the use of the colour black in his work, to whom the town pays homage at the Musée Soulages. The Gothic-style Notre-Dame cathedral, built between the 13th and 16th centuries, is also well worth a visit.
Things to do around Rodez
- Drive across the Millau viaduct, the world’s highest cable-stayed bridge, and enjoy its incredible views (50min drive).
- Enjoy a hike through the Parc National des Grands Causses (55min drive).
- Discover the fortified sites built by the Templars, such as the old city of La Couvertoirade (1hr 15min drive).
- Admire the Cistercian abbey of Sylvanès (1hr45min drive).
Mende (Lozère / Languedoc Roussillon)
The gateway to the Parc National des Cévennes, Mende is also the largest town in the Lozère département. Its remarkable Gothic cathedral, Notre-Dame-et-Saint-Privat, boasts a sculpture of a black Virgin Mary.
Things to do around Mende
- Climb to the top of Mont Lozère, the highest point in the Cévennes (35min drive).
- Fall under the spell of the Ardèche at passes such as the Col du Bez and the Col de la Croix de Bauzon (1hr 10min drive).
- Explore the Gorges du Tarn on foot or by boat or canoe (1hr 10min drive).
Valence (Lozère / Languedoc Roussillon)
A town marked by Antiquity and the Middle Ages, Valence boasts plenty of cultural options for visitors and is an excellent base from which to explore the Drôme Provençale region. Sights of note here include the attractive Peynet bandstand, the Epervière marina, and the extraordinary façade of the Maison des Têtes (a mansion in which Napoleon Bonaparte once stayed).
Things to do around Valence
- Stroll through beautiful fields of lavender in the Drôme Provençale region (45min drive).
- Get your sugar fix in Montélimar with a visit to the Palais des Bonbons et du Nougat (45min drive).
- Head back to Antiquity with a visit to the historical sites of Vaison-la-Romaine, at the foot of Mont Ventoux (1hr20min drive).
- Explore the Caverne du Pont d’Arc, a replica of the "Chauvet cave", which opened in April 2015 (1hr 25min drive).
Bourg de Péage (Drôme / Rhône Alpes)
Bourg-de-Péage boasts nature galore even in the centre of the town, where the Bois des Naix, a wood extending across 12 hectares, is home to majestic trees that are centuries old. And if you’re keen to taste the brioche-like pogne, a local speciality dating back to the Middle Ages, head to the Musée de la Pogne, dedicated to this regional delicacy.
Things to do around Bourg-de-Péage
- Stroll through the old town of Grenoble (50min drive).
- Explore the astonishing Palais Idéal du Facteur Cheval (35min drive).
- Visit Lyon and its brand-new Musée des Confluences (1hr 15min drive).
- Hike along the footpaths of the Vercors, with its magnificent mountain landscapes (1hr20min drive).
Gap (Hautes-Alpes / PACA)
Both tranquil yet lively, Gap is a pleasant place to live thanks to the fountains found on its street corners and its squares dotted with café and restaurant terraces. The town is the perfect place in which to try the specialities of the Champsaur, such as oreilles d’ânes (a gratin made with spinach) tourton fritters and ravioli.
Things to do around Gap
- Stroll amid the trees and flowers of the 220ha Domaine de Charance, from where you can enjoy delightful views of Gap and its surrounding area (10min drive).
- Take a maiden flight on a paraglider, glider, hot-air balloon or helicopter at Gap-Tallard aerodrome (20min drive).
- Take a well-earned break at Serre-Ponçon lake, the second biggest man-made lake in Europe (25min drive).