Friday, July 13, 2018

Wine and Food of the Tour de France Stage 7: Fougères to Chartres

Where are we?
Fougères: The Brittany tourism site tells me that: The main reason to visit Fougères is to see its magnificent castle, one of the finest fortresses in Europe, but this little town on the Brittany-Normandy border also has a lovely medieval district and a lively Saturday-morning market.

There has been a castle in Fougères for more than 1,000 years as this site, on a promontory sheltered by hills and surrounded by marshes, was identified by the Duchy of Brittany as the perfect spot to defend its lands from the French. The current castle dates from the 12th century and consists of three enclosures whose walls are dotted with towers: the most impressive is the Mélusine Tower. The castle, where history is brought to life via images and sounds, is a must-visit for both adults and kids alike and a walk around the ramparts is not to be missed.
The medieval town sprung up to the south of the castle around the River Nançon whose waters were used by the cloth-makers, dyers and tanners; tanning was a by-product of cattle-breeding, which was a major industry in the surrounding area. The prettiest and most atmospheric part of the old town is Place du Marchix, which is lined with half-timbered houses.
These days the main part of Fougères is the upper town, which overlooks the castle. On the main shopping street, Rue Nationale, you’ll see a 14th-century belfry, which is the oldest one in Brittany. At the far end of this street is St Léonard’s church whose bell tower is open to the public in summer and offers fabulous views over the castle and surrounding area; at other times of the year the views from the adjacent gardens are almost as good.
Fougères is closely connected with the 18th-century writer and politician Chateaubriand, whose sisters lived in the town; their impressive stone mansions can be seen at 3 Rue Leseur and 18 Rue Chateaubriand. The Marquis de la Rouërie aka Colonel Armand, a hero of the American War of Independence, was born in the Hôtel de la Bélinaye in Place Aristide Briand.
LeTour specialties:  Galette-saucisse (crepe-wrapped sausage), cheeses, ramaougerie de pommé (Gallic term for apples cooked for a long time), cider

Chartres: Michelin tells me that: The capital of the "granary of France" as the Beauce region is known, Chartres has a spectacular cathedral, and is famed as a pilgrim destination and for its stained-glass windows of indescribable blue hues. Chartres is also rich in medieval houses, fine churches, narrow streets and stairways leading down to the banks of the River Eure. Wood-fronted houses, little bridges and gangways, gardens and vegetable plots on the river banks give the place a charm that is more rural than urban.
The local tourist site has more info on the cathedral: 

1# The first UNESCO World Heritage cathedral: In 1979 Chartres cathedral was classified as an outstanding monument, to be safeguarded for humanity, at the same time as the Mont Saint-Michel, Vézelay and the Château of Versailles. It is the first large Gothic cathedral to have received this worldwide accolade. Chartres beat Notre-Dame de Paris and Notre-Dame d'Amiens, which were not declared UNESCO World Heritage sites until 1981!
2# A unique ensemble of stained glass windows: If you want to learn about the art of stained glass, Chartres cathedral is the only place to start. Its glass has a surface area of nearly 2,600 square metres, which may be a record for a single religious building. Chartres is the only cathedral in the world to have preserved as much of its original stained glass, from the romantic and Gothic periods, although it also boasts some beautiful more modern sections. Take the free guided tour of the cathedral to find out more.
3# Architectural unity: Constructed in the early days of the classical Gothic period, the main body of the cathedral was completed in less than 26 years. This explains its architectural unity, which is evident when walking inside, through the nave. Chartres cathedral was the first building of this size where the use of external flying buttresses made it possible to lighten the structure. The elegance and balance of the vault resting on its solid pillars have attracted artists from all over the world down the ages, such as Rodin, who was inspired by Chartres to sculpt The Prayer.
4# The three carved portals: Admirably preserved, almost untouched by the French Revolution, the portals of Chartres cathedral are rich in sculptures and statues. The royal portal will catch your eye in particular. The statues, fixed in eternity, are a magnificent example of this art of transition between the Roman and the Gothic, as it existed for a very short time in the middle of the 12th century. The north and south portals, built in the first half of the 13th century, testify to the elegance of this era.

5# A place with many different facets Whether your visit is spiritual or cultural, Notre-Dame de Chartres leaves no-one unimpressed. The crypt, of exceptional dimensions, and a labyrinth are still visited today by pilgrims and visitors. The cathedral also houses many architectural treasures, towers, extraordinary attic spaces and one of the widest and the highest transepts in the world.
LeTour specialties: Pâté en croute (pastry-wrapped pâté), Eurélienne (beer), Mentchikoff (chocolate confectionery) 


The stage: The keywords today are long and flat. As in 231, mainly flat, kilometers. This stage pretty much fits the definition of a transitional stage. Meaning: the race has to get from one spot to another, but there is likely to be little excitement along the way. Even the riders are concerned that it might get a bit dull.

On the road, a solo breakaway from Offredo. With 170 kilometers remaining, he had a gap of 7:30, which was the largest gap so far on this year's Tour. It would go out to nine minutes, before gradually decreasing.

With 110 long kilometers remaining, Offredo had about four minutes over the bunch. 
At least there has been some nice scenery.

Suddenly, crosswinds and splits! Excitement. 

In that back group, among others Dan Martin and Cav. The excitement was brief, as that back group would get back on. That speed burst, though, was enough to catch Offredo who was probably delighted to have someone to talk to. Still 90 or so kilometers to go! 
While things are quiet again, a note about Dumoulin from yesterday. After his flat yesterday, he did end up receiving a 20 second penalty from the race jury for moto-pacing. Sometimes bad luck gets worse. On the other hand, had he not moto-paced, he probably would have lost far more than 20 seconds.


Field art!


At the sprintermediate: Gaviria takes the maximum points from the field, keeping the green jersey competition as close as he can.
Fifty kilometers to go and Pichon had 1:50 over the main bunch.
Thirty eight kilometers and he was caught by the peloton. I had been wondering if he had lost a bet and was forced to go up the road alone.
Next up: the bonification point. Taking the win, GVA in yellow, bringing his lead to 6 seconds. That was rather anti-climactic. 
That said, we should have a sprint finish ahead, if they ever get there. They are actually significantly behind the slowest possible predicted time today.

As they slowly approach the finish, it was very calm, not even a doomed attack.
Finally, Chartres! Time to set up for the sprint at last.
And we have a new stage winner: Dylan Groenewegen!




Rank Rider


+ 00h 00' 06''

+ 00h 00' 08''

+ 00h 00' 09''

+ 00h 00' 15''

+ 00h 00' 21''

+ 00h 00' 48''

+ 00h 00' 54''

+ 00h 00' 55''
+ 00h 00' 56''



The alcohol: Pacory Cidre le Costaud
From the producer, with some help from Google translate:
In the heart of the Bocage Domfrontais, pear and apple trees dominate our meadows. From carefully selected fruits, we produce Calvados, Pommeau, Poiré and Cider.
Since the beginning of the eighteenth century, Pacory peasants in the Domfrontais. Like all the peasants of this grove, they transform apples and pears into cider, perry and calvados alongside breeding activities.
The farm Grimaux is operated by our family since 1939. In 1959, faced with the extension of intensive farming my father, Claude Pacory, decided to focus and perfect the production of calvados. The marketing in bottles then began. Many awards have come to reward this work.
In 1986, we took over the exploitation and continued the work of Claude. By analyzing the potential of the various varieties of our orchard, using more efficient techniques, we have refined the quality and diversity of our products.
This quality has been recognized, and our products enjoy several awards, in particular Calvados Domfrontais AOC and Poiré Domfront AOP.
The Farm Grimaux spread over 100 hectares, has 700 tall trees and 400 high stem apple trees.
The 200 tons of pears and apples harvested, allow us to produce our juices, our perry and cider, our aperitifs and our fabulous Calvados Domfrontais. Today we highlight our appellations of origin, Calvados Domfrontais and Poiré Domfront as well as a range of new products from our fruits (apples and pears).


The food: Ramaougerie de pommé
The local tourist site tells me:  
A basin, wider than high, of 50 liters, for example in cast aluminum (the peel). A long-handled wooden spoon (the ribot).
- 30 liters of sweet cider (the must) pressed the day before or the same day.
- 14 kilos of peeled apples, seeded, cut into thin slices.
Heat the must in the pan, stir ("ramaouger") with the ribot. As soon as boiling, pour the apples cut in the boiling wort as you go, ramming continuously so that the apple does not stick to the bottom of the peel and clean the edges with a tapered stick.
Cooking time:
From the beginning of the heat on high heat of the must to the desired consistency (a large wooden spoon should stand upright in the head), count from 8:30 to 9:00 for the quantities indicated. This time can be longer if you want a thicker, more caramelized head with a slight taste of prune.
Put in the jam jars the hot headed out of the peel and close immediately.
Head weight manufactured: 7 to 8 kilos
It is a long-life product that was once used on some farms to replace butter.

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