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The Massif Central, whilst unknown to many, could be described as the heart and soul of France. Made up of nearly twenty départements including the Loire, Cantal and Puy-de-Dôme, the overall area comprises two regions, the Auvergne and the Limousin.
It is France untouched, unspoilt by industry. The region's agricultural traditions make it culturally rich: Roquefort and l’escargot are local delicacies, as is schnapps with dried frogs… accordion music is still cherished by locals at the village fête. Remote from metropolitan France, there are 26 inhabitants per square km in the Cantal département. People here are very relaxed and talkative, a far cry from the noise and tutting traffic of Paris.
It was an important region for the French Resistance in World War Two, with the mountains and untamed habitat making it ideal for clandestine manoeuvres. The region contains the largest concentration of extinct volcanoes, Les Volcans d'Auvergne, in the world and it is the distinctive geology of the area that makes it so fertile.
Significant Tour stages here have been fought and won such as the 14th stage of the 1975 Tour where Eddy Merckx lost out to the grimpeur Lucien Van Impe. The most recent of note is Richard Virenque’s victory in 2004 on stage 10 when he won to St. Flour on Bastille Day.
- Directed by Ben Ingham
- Edited by Owynne Dawkins
- Sound Design by Andy Carroll / Soundfly
- Camera Assistance by Michael Kelly
- Line Production by Blandine Viollet