Goodby Savoie, Hello Rhone and the Gorgeous Ardeche Stages 13 and 14 TDF2018

Out of the mountains, into the Ardeche, Rhone briefly before moving onto the Languedoc.

Stage 13Bourg d’Oisans to Valence 7/20/18 169.5 km Flat and Sagan takes the sprint stage win, again!

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Studying wine has turned me into a map and geography nerd. To be very specific, for this Stage, the race is starting in Bourg D’Oisans which quite frankly Wiki says best, “Le Bourg-d’Oisans is a commune in the Isère department in southeastern France. It is located in the Oisans region of the French Alps. Le Bourg-d’Oisans is located in the valley of the Romanche river, on the road from Grenoble to Briançon, and on the south side of the Col de la Croix de Fer. It is often on the route of the Tour de France, as the town sits at the base of the road to Alpe d’Huez and the legendary switchbacks to the top of the mountain (those wanting to test their skills against the professional cyclists’ times can rent bicycles in Bourg d’Oisans and ride to the top where the tourist office offers a certificate of official completion that costs one Euro).” It is surrounded by several well-known mountain resorts, including the Alpe d’Huez and Les Deux Alpes. The Écrins National Park lies to the southeast of Le Bourg-d’Oisans.

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Bourg D’Oisan (France-Voyage.com)

This stage finishes at the town of Valence, in the Drôme Department within the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region. Valence is 62 miles south of Lyon and is called the door to the south of France. (Wiki)

Tournon, le Rhône vu du château (07)
Valence – en.viarhona.com

Since the vineyards of Cornas are across and beyond the river, I went through some old Perman wine newsletters (June 2017) and came up with this recommendation of a Cornas wine, Thierry Allemand.  

2014 Thierry Allemand “Chaillot” Cornas
 
100% Syrah cuvée made up of all younger vines. 5-40 year average vine age on limestone and granite soils. At this time, June 2017, this wine was offered at $169.99. A wine of “syrah dreams”.
thierry-allemand-cornas-reynard-rhone-france-10312964
Sadly, the Tour this year just skirts through the Rhone region  so the route can get to the Pyrenees.
Stage 15
Stage 15 – 7/21/18 Saint-Paul-Troix-Châteaux to Mende. 188km hilly
We have a first time Stage winner in  Spaniard Omar Fraile of Astana takes the Stage win and Thomas maintains the yellow jersey with Froome in second for the general classification.
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This Stage starts off in Saint-Paul-Trois-Chateau (which was named after 3 Roman tribes, not Chateaux but over time it got mistranslated) in the Drôme Department, then  crosses through the breathtaking L’Ardêche Department and the Gorges de l’Ardêche, (french in-depth description). Past Tours have cycled through the L’Ardêche and for outdoor enthusiasts the scenery is absolutely breathtaking. This area is on the op of my “to visit” list.
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Vallon Pont d’Arc in Ardèche – Avignon-et-Provence.com
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gorge-ardeche.net

Yet again the Tour moves through departments and this stage finishes in Mende, a commune in the Lozère Department, as the Tour moves further west. Wiki describes it best:

“Mende (French pronunciation: ​[mɑ̃d], Occitan pronunciation: [ˈmende]) is a commune and prefecture of the department of Lozère and of the region of Occitanie in southern France. Its inhabitants are called the Mendois. The city, including the first traces of dwellings date back to 200 BC,[1] was originally named Mimata,[citation needed] probably in reference to the mountains that surround it. Even though Mende remains a relatively sparsely populated city (approximately 12,000 inhabitants), it remains the most important of the Lozère Department. In addition, it is the city-centre of the unique urban area of this department.

Before we move into the domaine of the wines of Southwest France, I point out a wine made under the “Vin de Pays L’Ardeche” which is the overall appellation of the northern Rhone and from a 2014 Perman Wine newsletter (2013):

Vincent Paris “Granit Blanc” Northern Rhone 

Voignier (67%) and Roussane (33%) grapes grown on granite soils.

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Now onto the wines of Southwest France, the Languedoc and Rousillon as the Tour continues to move towards the Pyrenees.

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