The Towns of the 2011 Etape

Enjoy the Ride and the Town

Two Etape du Tours this year!! By now, everyone is familiar with the routes dates, distance, and difficulty, but have you researched deeper into the towns visited? Both locations have amazing, but different things to offer.

Act 1: Modane to Alpe d’Huez

Both these towns are exceptional places to visit and the ride from each location is exhilarating, but does take a great deal of endurance while battling the high peaks of the Rhone-Alpes department. Modane being a border town has many Italian features seen in the culture and monuments.  The town has many fabulous sights to see including the Chapel of Our Lady of Chairmax, the Leaning House, and the Fountain of Modane. Although a remote area, its scenery is nothing short of stunning and will please any visitor.

Alpe d’Huez has been heard around the world with its famous 21 hairpins appearing in numerous Tour de France races. This area draws athletes of all types. Biking to the summit is a must whether it is on the road or on the mountain trails, but there is also great hiking as well as other activities from dog sledding to hang gliding. The possibilities are endless in this region.

Our guided and self-guided tours in the Rhone-Alpes region offer you an experience of a lifetime. Feel the sting when climbing the steep hills, the accomplishment when you reach the summit, the thrill as you race down the mountain, all while enjoying one of the best views in France.

Act 2: Issoire to St. Flour

This course, which stretches 208 km, begins in Issoire and finishes in St Flour. The first thing that usually pops into people’s mind is, “where the heck is Issoire and St Flour?” Both are in the Auvergne region, almost in the center of France, west of the Rhone-Alpes region and north of the Midi-Pyrenees region. Although off the beaten path, this area has much to offer travelers, specifically cyclists.

Everyone will want to take a stroll in the town square of Issoire lined with painted houses and joined by winding narrow streets. The Church of Saint-Austremoine exemplifying Roman style architecture is a unbelievable sight inside and out. Different from many churches, the interior is almost all painted with patterns of different colors. This isn’t the only site to see; along your route to St Flour make sure you visit the Chateau d’Alleuze and Viaduc de Garabit while taking in the magnificent landscape.

Saint-Austremoine church.
Saint-Austremoine church

St Flour is situated between two volcanic mountains in the Massif Central department of the Auvergne region. The town itself is actually perched on top of the volcanic outcrops giving visitors a view of the surrounding countryside unlike any other. Take time to visit the museums of the town as well as the Cathedral of St. Pierre made of black basalt with its life-sized wooden black Christ statue. St Flour knows a few things about gastronomy, so don’t miss the opportunity to try Tripoux, a stew of tripe and sheep feet tied in parcels…when in France right?

Both Issoire and St Flour have many adventures to offer cyclists. Many travelers overlook the Auvergne region, but with it being so close to the Pyrenees, Rhone-Alpes, Loire Valley and Provence regions it has many similar features from all of them making it the perfect getaway. The Etape Act 2 gives you the ideal excuse to explore these towns.

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