Lower Normandy Gearing Up For Le Tour

TourdeFranceMancheThe whole of Lower Normandy is set to benefit when the iconic Tour de France arrives in the region later this year and not just during the race but for years to come, it is claimed.

To mark its centenary the world famous cycling race is passing some of France’s most well known landmarks and this includes Mont Saint Michel on Wednesday 10 July.
The 11th stage of the race, an individual time trial, will begin in Avranches in the south of Manche and finish in front of the Mont which is one of France’s most visited historic sites.
After two years of falling tourism numbers, the region is hopeful that the industry can benefit from the tens of thousands of extra visitors that are expected to watch the race from nearby and from all over Europe.
Hotel, restaurants and gites are already reporting an increase in bookings and shops are gearing up for a busy couple of days both before and after the Mont Saint Michel stage of the race.
‘It will be an enormous boost for our image and the local economy,’ said Jean-François Le Grand, president of the Manche conseil général, who had the idea of lobbying the organisers to include Mont Saint Michel in the 100th Tour.
‘Manche, with its D-Day beaches, its natural heritage and its jewel, Mont-Saint-Michel has all the access necessary to welcome the tour. Historically Manche is a land of cycling and this helped us win the stage. The Tour represents a magnificent opportunity to promote the department and is a godsend for tourism and the economy,’ he added.
It is also expected to boost tourism for some time to come. Jacky Bouvet, the Manche councillor in charge of sport, said that the spectacular aerial shots which accompany the race will show off Mont Saint Michel and the surrounding countryside to a global audience.
‘This will not just benefit the local economy and tourism in 2013 but in the years to come. It is one of the best ways possible to tell the world about our wonderful countryside,’ he added.
According to Jean-Louis Laville, director of the Normandy Tourism Board, the event will create unparalleled media exposure. ‘Millions of television viewers will see stunning images of Mont Saint Michel. There will be 500 journalists of 35 nationalities from120 countries. A large number of visitors to the region who will be following the route at the key towns where the cyclists arrive and depart and who will contribute to boosting tourism locally,’ he explained.
In the run up to the actual race day on 11 July a number of activities are being organised.
And for Mr Le Grand it doesn’t finish when the race moves onto the next stage. He is now planning his bid for the race to start in the Manche in 2016 or 2017.
Local events include La Manche Fête le Tour de France, a giant cycling party open to everyone from families to serious cyclists. A cycling village will be created in Place Carnot in Avranches with stalls, exhibitions, quizzes, games and various organisations represented, opening at 11am.
As part of the event the Avranches cycling club will be organising a bike ride from 2.30pm that will follow part of the official Tour de France route including the towns of  Saint Martin des Champs, Saint Quentin sur le Homme, Ducey, Poilley, Juilley, Précey, Céaux, Courtils, Huisnes-sur-mer, Ardevon, Beauvoir and Mont-Saint-Michel.
On the eve of the Tour there will be an evening of events that include a production of Molière’s The Forced Marriage, music and fireworks.
And for Mr Le Grand it doesn’t finish when the race moves onto the next stage. He is now planning his bid for the race to start in the Manche in 2016 or 2017.



About Ray Clancy

Ray Clancy has 20 years experience in journalism including contributing articles to print and on-line publications such as PropertyWire.com, Property World Middle East and websites for estate agents. She has also written for the Daily Telegraph and Mail on Sunday.

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