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The Grand Depart of the Tour de France in Pays de la Loire

Ile Noirmoutier
With its 2,800km of cycle routes, few French regions are better suited to two-wheeled exploration than Pays de la Loire. And this year, it’s under an even brighter cycling spotlight as it hosts the Grand Départ and first four stages of the 105th Tour de France.

Setting off from the stunning island of Noirmoutier, riders will cover more than 500km of roads in Pays de la Loire, along a route that hugs the Atlantic coast and traverses the Vendée bocage, Anjou and Loire-Atlantique over the following three stages.

STAGE 1: SATURDAY 7 JULY

NOIRMOUTIER → FONTENAY-LE-COMTE (189km)
Riders will race along the coast in the direction of the Vélodyssée cycle route, passing through the family resorts of Saint-Jean-de-Monts, Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie and Les Sables-d’Olonne. Leaving the coast after La Tranche-sur-Mer, the peloton will traverse the Marais Poitevin before crossing the finishing line at Fontenay-le-Comte, which is hosting the Tour for the first time.

STAGE 2: SUNDAY 8 JULY

MOUILLERON-SAINT-GERMAIN → LA ROCHE-SUR-YON (183km)
Previously called Mouilleron-en-Pareds before merging with Saint-Germain-l'Aiguiller in 2016, this district gave birth to two lions of war: Georges Clémenceau and Maréchal de Lattre de Tassigny. This should instil riders with a fighting spirit on this second stage of the Tour, as they head for La Roche-sur-Yon after a wide detour through the Vendée bocage.

STAGE 3: MONDAY 9 JULY

CHOLET (TEAM TIME TRIAL - 35km)
Voted ‘France's most sporty city’ three times by newspaper L'Équipe, Cholet certainly merits the honour of hosting Stage 3 of the race. This team time trial, which starts and finishes in the city centre, will make a loop around Cholet, taking in the rolling roads of Les Mauges.

STAGE 4: TUESDAY 10 JULY

LA BAULE → SARZEAU (192km)
Breathtaking La Baule is an idyllic setting for the fourth stage, with its fine sandy beach fringing the bay for 9km. From here, the peloton will pass through Guérande before crossing the stunning Brière natural park, and eventually exiting Pays de la Loire at Derval. There’s one last short detour via Mayenne and Sarthe on the seventh day of the race.

Avid supporter? Here are our top 10 places to watch the Tour…

-From a boat in La Baule bay
-From the bell-tower of Saint-Michel-Mont-Mercure
-From the port of Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie
-Outside the Royal Abbey of Saint-Michel-en-L’Herm
-From the Chateau de Tiffauges
-Outside the Saint-Louis Theatre in Cholet
-Outside the walled town of Guérande
-From a boat on the marshes of the Brière natural park
-From the Chateau de Mayenne
-From the village of Saint-Léonard-des-Bois in the Alpes-Mancelles

Fancy hopping on a bike yourself?

The Loire à Vélo covers 300km within the region, running along the Loire from Cuffy in the department of Cher, out to Saint-Nazaire and the Atlantic. The Vélodyssée (French leg of EuroVelo1 linking Norway with Portugal) spans 420km in Pays de la Loire, taking cyclists along the Nantes-Brest canal and the Loire estuary, and then hugging the coast to the south of Vendée. Finally, the Vélo Francette’s 250km regional section crosses Mayenne, Anjou and Vendée, following the course of several rivers on its way from Normandy to the Atlantic.

Noirmoutier