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Cycle Touring, France, travel

Sisteron, France

Tour de France fever has taken it up a notch as the mountains take their toll on the riders.  Watching the tour day after day, it is easy to daydream about riding those roads, through the mountains, past the fields of sunflowers and cruising through historical towns with majestic castles and fortresses of days gone by.


We traveled to France in the fall of 2010 for two weeks of cycling in Provence and the surrounding ranges. How could we resist but ride a section of the Tour route, starting in Stage 11’s ville de depart (start city) – Sisteron.  While we did not follow the Tour’s route to the letter, after all – the distances were further than what we had planned for the day – we did ride to Gap – a classic entrance/exit town for the French Alps.  Gap is along the tourist route of the Napoleon Road.

ville d'etape Tour de France

Hosting a stage of the Tour de France

Competition to host the start or finish of a stage of the Tour de France is severe.  Cities pay € 50 000 to the  ASO (organizing body of the Tour de France) to host a stage start, € 90 000 for arrivals and 130 000 € to be both the city of arrival and departure, however their costs do not end there.  Road repairs and other associated costs are added to this fee.  In return, the stage towns receive a hefty return on investment – an average of six times higher than the price the city pays to receive the Tour.  Publicity for the town is substantial, and economic benefits continue long after the tour has departed.  It is an opportunity to showcase the host town internationally as the eyes of the cycling world follow the Tour de France through the month of July.

The town and locals get behind the Tour with living art capturing the attention of the television crews and the imaginations of the people.  Throughout Sisteron, evidence of the importance of being showcased as a start city was demonstrated in the flower beds and on the defence tower, adorned with a giant yellow jersey.  Love the yellow clad lamb, representative of the fact that this region is known for its agricultural heritage, including the region’s famous  tasty lamb (giving the area the gastronomic reputation of the “Gateway to Provence.”)  The sweet smells of the apple harvest wafted through the air as we made our way from Sisteron to the town of Gap in the region of the Hautes Alps.

cycling in France, Tour de France

Surprising to us both as we rode to Gap was the fact that much of the road actually climbed, ever so lightly, before the descent into Gap.  This was highlighted by the fact that we sailed back to Sisteron with barely any effort!  Not a bad finish to a french cycling holiday.

Tour de France

Beyond the Tour de France, Sisteron is a city of historical importance….

Originally a village of the Celtic Gauls, Sisteron was occupied early on by the Romans, becoming the sixth city of the Second Narbonnaise.  High above the city, perched on rock 485 meters up, the citadel sits on the west side, offering protection for the town.  The 14th century walls also offered the city tremendous protection.  Once described at the most inaccessible fortress of the French kingdom, it is worthy of a visit.  Enjoy a walk through the inner court and the 14th century Notre-Dame chapel.  Also open to the public is the dungeon.  Climb the bell tower for amazing views on the valley of Durance and the surrounding mountains.

The area is also known for its sunshine – boasting an average of 300 days of sunshine a year.  Combined with the gastronomical delights and regional beauty, it is no wonder that the area is so popular amongst tourists.  And let’s not forget about the wine…


About Anita Mac

The bucket list just keeps growing! The more I cross off - the more exciting new destinations and activities I find! I have been fortunate enough to travel a considerable distance over the years. My love of many things, including travel, cycling, kayaking and photography fit together like hand and glove. I have to keep asking myself....where to next? I am happy to share my travels and photography through my blogs: http://traveldestinationbucketlist.com and http://anitamacphotos.wordpress.com Hope you enjoy them as much as I do! On to the next adventure!


15 thoughts on “Sisteron, France

  1. Reblogged this on Lara: On the Weigh Down and commented:
    Still recouping from my fun procedure but doing very well considering. Thought we’d venture off the beaten track and celebrate not exercise, not competition, but what has become a worldwide phenomena dedicated to the art of the bicycle. Wonderful post and love this blogger! Take a moment to see how 1 country has embraced probably the most famous bicycle race in the world. The “Farm” is especially fun! BTW: no pics today and resting til Sun, then back in saddle on Mon. Major report on Tuesday so stay tuned!

    Posted by kalima123 | July 13, 2012, 11:55 am
    • Thanks for the wonderful compliment! I couldn’t agree more – they have really embraced cycling in France, mind you – that isn’t something new. It is more of a new phenomenon in North America. No wonder some of us die-hard cyclists pack up our bikes and ship them over the Atlantic! Vive le bicyclette!!!

      Posted by Anita Mac | July 13, 2012, 5:40 pm
  2. Great Photos – Have a Lovely Weekend:)

    Posted by cravesadventure | July 13, 2012, 4:22 pm
  3. Thanks and same to you!

    Posted by Anita Mac | July 13, 2012, 5:40 pm
  4. Great posting! Thanks 😉

    Posted by bamboogirl | July 14, 2012, 1:50 am
  5. I can remember back in the 80’s when at least one rider would die Tour each year. Glad to see that seem to have gotten under control. It goes to show that better training regimen, planning and coordination helps these athletes to compete fairly and safely.

    Posted by themofman | July 14, 2012, 9:21 am
  6. Amongst several amusing stories about the Tour de France, I went to Paris in 2007 to see Lance Armstrong complete his final Tour……………. but then, of course, he made a comeback a few years later!

    Posted by Frank Burns | July 14, 2012, 6:37 pm
    • Very cool none-the-less! I know he made a comeback, but after winning 7 tours, the podium finish felt like such a let down! Very cool that you were able to see a stage though! I can only imagine how electric the air must have been. Very cool. One of these days, I hope to make it over for a stage.

      Posted by Anita Mac | July 14, 2012, 10:17 pm
  7. Great post!I am very impressed with your achievements,good on ya!

    Posted by aidaweb101 | July 15, 2012, 10:05 pm


  1. Pingback: Sisteron, France | Rabbits Vox Home - July 15, 2012

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