The Tour de France 2012, the world’s premier cycling event kicked off last Saturday with the Prologue in Liège, Belgium and will conclude on July 22 with the traditional ride into Paris and laps up and down the Champs-Élysées. Over the next 22 days the race will take its course briefly along the Northwestern coast of France through Boulogne-sur-Mer, Abbeville and into Rouen then into the mountains of the Jura, Swiss Alps and the Pyrenees.
We will be Live Blogging Le Tour 2012 every morning at The Stars Hollow Gazette starting at 7:30 AM EDT. Come join us for a morning chat, cheer the riders and watch some of the most beautiful and historic countryside in Europe.
Stage 9 – Arc-et-Senans – Besançon 41.5 km
Stage 9 was the Individual Time Trials. No teams to protect the riders, no peloton, just the rider, 41.5 km and the clock. The race started in two lovely French cities, Arc-et-Senans and ended in Besançon.
• Stage town on 1 previous occasion
• 1,500 inhabitants
• commune of Doubs
Arc-et-Senans was chosen by Louis XV to house the Royal Saltworks in 1771, but it waited until 1996 to see the Tour’s peloton. It was during a stage which set off from there, in Doubs, which finished in Aix-les-Bains. A novice called Michael Boogerd was the winner and this was the first of two victories in the Tour de France for the Dutch rider.
The [Saline Royale (Royal Saltworks) is a historical building at Arc-et-Senans in the department of Doubs, eastern France. It is next to the Forest of Chaux and about 35 kilometers from Besançon. The architect was Claude-Nicolas Ledoux (1736-1806), a prominent Parisian architect of the time. The work is an important example of an early Enlightenment project in which the architect based his design on a philosophy that favored arranging buildings according to a rational geometry and a hierarchical relation between the parts of the project.
The Institut Claude-Nicolas Ledoux has taken on the task of conservator and is managing the site as a monument. UNESCO added the “Salines Royales” to its List of World Heritage Sites in 1982.
Today, the site is mostly open to the public. It includes, in the building the coopers used, displays by the Ledoux Museum of other futuristic projects that were never built. Also, the salt production buildings house temporary exhibitions.
The train line from Besançon to Bourg-en-Bresse passes just next to the salt works. The station for Arc-et-Senans is only a few dozen meters from the site.
• Stage town on 18 previous occasions
• 123,000 inhabitants
• Prefecture of Doubs
The prefecture city of Doubs was already on the 1905 Tour map, which makes it the oldest city associated with the race, after Paris, on the 2012 route. The first finish in Besançon is one of the race’s historical stages as the riders, who had set off from Nancy, went over the Ballon of Alsace, a difficulty which symbolized the future ascents in the mountains, for the first time. In 2009, Russia’s Sergei Ivanov was the winner there, by shaking off the other breakaway riders not long before the citadel came into sight. And on the subject of time-trials, Lance Armstrong won the last one organised in Besançon in 2004.
Besançon is the capital and principal city of the Franche-Comté region in eastern France. Once proclaimed first green city of France, it has been labeled a ‘Town of Art and History’ since 1986, and has been on the UNESCO world heritage list since 2008. [..]
The city is first recorded in 58 BC as Vesontio in the Book I of Julius Caesar’s Commentarii de Bello Gallico. The etymology of Vesontio is uncertain. The most common explanation is that the name is of Celtic origin, derivated from wes, meaning ‘mountain’. During the 4th century, the letter B took the place of the V, and the city name changed to Besontio or Bisontion and then underwent several transformation to become Besançon in 1243. [..]
The city has one of the most beautiful historic centers of any major town in France. A broad horse-shoe of the river Doubs, “la Boucle”, encircles the old town, while Vauban’s imposing Citadelle blocks off the neck. The historic center presents a remarkable ensemble of classic stone buildings, some dating back to the Middle Ages and others to the Spanish Renaissance. Among the most visited historic monuments are:
* several Roman remains,
* the 16th century Palais Granvelle,
* Vauban’s citadel (Citadel of Besançon)
* the Cathedral of St. Jean,
* several Spanish Renaissance-style buildings
* the Église de la Madeleine, and
* the river frontage.
The Roman remains consist primarily of the Porte Noire, a 2nd century CE triumphal arch at the foot of the hill on which the citadel stands, and the Square Castan, a semi-circular amphitheater. The Porte Noire may commemorate the victories of Marcus Aurelius over the Germans in 167 CE. It was partly rebuilt in 1820.
From 1534 to 1540, Cardinal Granvelle, chancellor to the Habsburg emperor Charles V, built the Palais Granvelle, in the heart of the town. It consists of arcades that surround an interior court, and is the most interesting of the secular buildings. The Palais contains a set of seven wool and silk blend tapestries from Bruges that were woven circa 1635 and that celebrate seven milestones in Charles V’s life. These tapestries remained in Spain until 1888, when they were transferred to France. In 1950 they were transferred to the Palais .
UNESCO added the citadel, the city walls and Fort Griffon to its list of World Heritage Sites in 2008, as part of the “Fortifications of Vauban” group. Some older military architecture has also survived. There is a cylindrical, 15th century tower near the Porte Notre-Dame, the southern gate of the city. The Porte Rivotte, a 16th century gate, has two round towers. The citadel houses the Museum of the French Resistance and Deportation.
The Cathedral, which dates largely from the 12th century though construction continued into the 14th century, contains the most remarkable of the city’s masterpieces, a massive Virgin and saints altarpiece by the Italian Renaissance painter Fra Bartolomeo. It also houses a noteworthy 19th century astronomical clock. The Cathedral has two apses, with the eastern apse and the tower dating from the reign of Louis XV.
Attractive quays border the old city, and in places there are shady promenades. On the right bank there is a bathing establishment in the Mouillere quarter that draws its water from the saline springs of Miserey-Salines.