Chasin’ the sunset

Stage 2

STAGE 2: REIMS – ORLEANS

After enjoying a tourist-like trail through the vineyards of the Champagne region, we head towards Orléans, one of France’s oldest cities. Stage 2 features lightly accentuated roads through authentic French villages and dense forests, such as the Forêt de Villefermoy.

The route: Enjoy authentic French villages

Ready for a new day
After a good night’s rest and a nutricious breakfast you’ve replenished your energy reserves and are ready for stage two of this Van der Poel edition. The route will take you from Reims towards the southwest, through the Champagne region, towards Paris. We’ll avoid the nation’s busy capital to make sure we can keep making good time, which also allows you to enjoy the lush green landscape around you. You’ll pass through many authentic French villages today, often home to not much more than a little church, a town square and perhaps a local bakery. These villages are mostly quiet, but you could run into locals having a quiet drink of playing a friendly game of Pétanque/Jeu de Boules here as well!

Rich in forests
The second day features a lot of relatively quiet local roads. Gentle slopes characterize the route, which is also home to forests like the Forêt de Villefermoy, the Forêt de Champagne and the Forêt d’Orléans. Did you know that 29% of France is covered by woods? With over 140 different tree types you’ll see a lot of variety over the course of the stage, but be sure to also keep an eye out for local wildlife, which may include deer or swine.

The final kilometers
The final stretch of this second stage is past the water of the Canal d’Orléans, home to no fewer than 28 sluice gates as it’s home to the southern part of the connection between the Loire and the Seine rivers. You’ll pass several bridges before ending Orléans, our finish for today and the location of a well earned shower and hot meal.

Surroundings: Peek into history

The small city of Château-Thierry lies in the heart of the Marne Valley in the Champagne region. During the first World War it was an important theater of war during the Second Battle of the Marne, when German troops reached and crossed the Marne before being driven back by predominantly American troops. Because of this, a large monument was erected high above the city in honor of the American soldiers.

Nemours
If you’ve reached Nemours, you have only 100 kilometers to go! Situated on the shores of the Loing, it is home a large annual medieval festival. Cycling enthusiasts probably remember Nemours as the finish location for the first stage in Paris-Nice in 2013, where Nacer Bouhanni beat Alessandro Petacchi and Elia Viviani for the win. Riche Porte ultimately won the stage race that year, becoming the first Australian rider to do so.

Centre-Val de Loire
Besides passing through the Champagne region, you’ll also pass through the Île-de-France and Centre-Val de Loire region today. The latter is an important tourist destination with its Loire Valley, and is home to our finish location Orléans as well as the cities of Tours, Bourges and Chateauroux.

Orléans
One of the oldest cities in France, Orléans is situated at an elevation of 116 meters and is a university city with approximately 115,000 inhabitants. It’s also been the finish location for several Tour de France stages, including one that was won by Eddy Merckx in 1974 – a tour that also has two Dutch stage winners in Henk Poppe (stage 2) and Gerard Vianen (stage 20).

Backgrounds: Fine wining and dining

The Champagne capital
We depart from Reims today, and its surroundings are filled with champagne houses and vineyards – if you’re looking for a good glass of wine you won’t have to look far. Champagne is beloved across the world and is mostly produced from three different grape types: the pinot noir and the pinot meunier are both blue and the chardonnay is a white grape.

Fancy a cookie?
Reims is also known for its ‘biscuit rose’, an invention by local bakers around 1960 where a special dough was used to create twice-baked cookies in a process where they used their still-hot ovens after they were done baking bread – a process not too unlike that used in the creation of rusk. These days, about 30 miljoen dozen of ‘biscuit rose’ – a brittle and vanilla-flavored delicacy – are still produced in Reims every year by bakery Maison Fossier.

Are you curious about the other stages? Click here.