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Tour De France 2012

Cav wins in Paris as Wiggins clinches Tour
 
Bradley Wiggins became the first Briton to win the Tour de France as Sky team-mate Mark Cavendish took the final stage in Paris.

Yellow jersey Wiggins entered the final kilometre of the three-week stage race in on the front of the peloton moments before world champion Cavendish won his fourth successive stage victory on the Champs Elysees. Arms aloft, Wiggins crossed the line safely in the peloton to secure a historic win in the world's greatest cycling race. The 32-year-old finished the 99th Tour de France three minutes and 21 seconds faster than fellow Briton and Sky team-mate Chris Froome.   Vincenzo Nibali of Liquigas completed the podium to become first Italian to finish in the Tour’s top three since Ivan Basso in 2005. Nibali finished the race 6:19 down on a near-flawless Wiggins.   "What a way to finish. We had a job to do and we were on a mission for Cav. I’ve got to start getting used to being the winner of the Tour. Wow," said an elated Wiggins before mounting the final podium.   Under a cloudless blue sky in Paris, Cavendish won the final sprint comfortably ahead of green jersey Peter Sagan (Liquigas) and Matt Goss (Orica-GreenEdge). It was the 23rd Tour stage victory of Cavendish’s career and his third in this year’s race. The 27-year-old also becomes the first reigning world champion to win on the Champs Elysees.   "That was incredible, with the yellow jersey Bradley Wiggins pulling on the front going into the last kilometre," said Cavendish, who has now won on every occasion he has ridden into Paris. "I went early and gave it everything. It’s the cherry on the top of a wonderful Tour."   Cavendish's third win of the Tour marked the sixth stage victory for Team Sky after Wiggins’s two time trial scalps and a win in the Alps for Froome. 

Londoner Wiggins is the first Briton to stand on the top step of the podium in the Tour de France’s 109-year history. In fact, both Wiggins and Froome are the first British men to make a Tour podium – the previous highest finish being fourth-place by Robert Millar in 1984 and Wiggins himself in 2010.   The unprecedented British one-two also represents the first time two riders from the same team have topped the overall standings since 1996 when Dane Bjarne Riis finished first ahead of his German Telekom team-mate Jan Ullrich. The last time two riders from the same nation topped the standings was back in 1984 when Laurent Fignon beat fellow Frenchman Bernard Hinault.   Comprehensive victories in both major time trials – in Besancon and Chartres – as well as solid riding in the mountains alongside Froome were the key for Wiggins, who never placed lower than second place in the GC after completing the opening prologue in Liege seven seconds slower than Switzerland’s Fabian Cancellara.   Wiggins took the yellow jersey from the RadioShack-Nissan rider after placing third at La Planche des Belles Filles in stage seven, won by Froome. The last time the maillot jaune switched shoulders just once was during the 1977 Tour, although in 1999 there were also just two wearers of the yellow jersey after Finn Jaan Kirsipuu took the race lead from prologue winner Lance Armstrong for six days before the American seized yellow back to take it all the way to Paris.   Triple Olympic track champion Wiggins arrived at the Tour having already made history after becoming the first man to win Paris-Nice, the Tour of Romandie and the Criterium du Dauphine stage races in the same season.   Wiggins’s crowning glory has been placed in the same bracket as Roger Bannister’s four-minute mile, England’s World Cup win of 1966 and Fred Perry’s three successive Wimbledon tennis titles.   Sir Chris Hoy, Britain’s triple gold medal winner from the Beijing 2008 Olympics, has labelled Wiggins’s win as “the greatest sporting achievement of any British sportsperson ever”. The Sunday Times also suggested that Wiggins was the greatest all-round cyclist of all time, stressing his versatility in switching from track to road cycling.   Slovakian tyro Sagan won the green jersey competition in his debut Tour de France, the triple stage winner becoming the youngest green jersey after Willy Planckaert, who also won at 22 years old in 1966.

 

Languedoc-Roussillon Pays Catalan

History

Languedoc-Roussillon Pays Catalan (Local lagwege Occitan) is one of the 27 regions of France. It comprises of five departments, and borders the other French regions of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, Rhône-Alpes, Auvergne, Midi-Pyrénées on the one side, and Spain, Andorra and the Mediterranean Sea on the other side.

Geography

The region is made up of the following historical provinces:

Landscape in Aude, Languedoc-Roussillon 68.7% of Languedoc-RoussillonLandscape in Lozère was formerly part the province of Languedoc: the departments of Hérault, Gard, Aude, the extreme south and extreme east of Lozère, and the extreme north of Pyrénées-Orientales. The former province of Languedoc also extends over the Midi-Pyrénées region, including the old capital of Languedoc Toulouse.  17.9% of Languedoc-Roussillon was formerly the province of Gévaudan: Lozère department. A small part of the former Gévaudan lies inside the current Auvergne region. Gévaudan is often considered to be a sub-province inside the province of Languedoc, in which case Languedoc would account for 86.6% of Languedoc-Roussillon.  13.4% of Languedoc-Roussillon, located in the southernmost part of the region, is a collection of five historical Catalan pays: Roussillon, Vallespir, Conflent, Capcir, and Cerdagne, all of which are in turn included -east to west- in the Pyrénées-Orientales département. These pays were part of the Ancien Régime province of Roussillon, owning its name to the largest and most populous of the five pays, Roussillon. "Province of Roussillon and adjacent lands of Cerdagne" was indeed the name that was officially used after the area became French in 1659, based on the historical division of the five pays between the county of Roussillon (Roussillon and Vallespir) and the county of Cerdagne (Cerdagne, Capcir, and Conflent).   Llívia is a town of Cerdanya, province of Girona, Catalonia, Spain, that forms a Spanish exclave surrounded by French territory (Pyrénées-Orientales département).

Politics

At the regional elections in March 2004, the socialist mayor of Montpellier Georges Frêche, a maverick in Flag of Languedoc RoussillonFrench politics, defeated its center-right president. Since then, Georges Frêche has embarked on a complete overhaul of the region and its institutions. The flag of the region, which displayed the cross of Languedoc as well as the Flag of Roussillon (the "Senyera"), was changed for a new flag with no reference to the old provinces, except in terms of the colors (red and yellow), which are the colors of both Languedoc and all the territories from the former Crown of Aragon.
 
Georges Frêche also wanted to change the name of the region, wishing to erase its duality (Languedoc vs. Roussillon) and strengthen its unity. Thus, he wanted to rename the region "Septimanie" (Septimania). Septimania was the name created by the Romans at the end of the Roman Empire for the coastal area corresponding quite well to present day Languedoc-Roussillon (including Roussillon, but not including Gévaudan), and used in the early Middle Ages for the area. This name, however, has not been in use since the 9th century, and it sounded quite odd to French people[citation needed]. Strong opposition of the population led to Georges Frêche giving up on his idea. He declared that he still believed in it but could not go ahead without a mandate.
 
Catalan nationalists in Roussillon would like the Pyrénées-Orientales department to secede from Languedoc-Roussillon and become a region in its own right, under the proposed name of "Catalunya Nord" (Northern Catalonia), as part of the Països Catalans (Catalan Countries), a new country. This idea has no popular support.
 
On the other hand, there are some who would like to merge the Languedoc-Roussillon and Midi-Pyrénées regions, thus reunifying the old province of Languedoc, and creating a large region. It seems probable that Georges Frêche, with his idea of a "Septimanie" region, would not support such plans, although political leaders in Béziers, Narbonne, and especially Nîmes, would probably support such a merger, hostile as they are to Montpellier, which was chosen as the capital of Languedoc-Roussillon instead of their own city, and which they accuse of hegemony

Wine

The Languedoc-Roussillon region is dominated by 740,300 acres (2,996 km2) of vineyards, three times the combined area of the vineyards in Bordeaux and the region has been an important winemaking centre for several centuries. Grapevines are said to have existed in the South of France since the Pliocene period - before the existence of Homo sapiens. The first vineyards of Gaul developed around two towns: Béziers and Narbonne. The Mediterranean climate and plentiful land with soil ranging from rocky sand to thick clay was very suitable for the production of wine, and it is estimated that one in ten bottles of the world's wine was produced in this region during the 20th century (Robinson 1999:395). Despite this enormous quantity, the area's significance was often overlooked by scholarly publications and commercial journals, largely because very little of the wine being produced was classified under an appellation contrôlée until the 1980s (Joseph 2005:190).
 
Several entrepreneurs such as Robert Skalli and James Herrick drastically changed the face of the region, planting more commercially viable grape varieties and pushing for new AOC classifications. While the AOC system has origins in the 15th century, the Languedoc-Roussillon has some appellations like the Cabardès which have existed by law only since 1999 (Joseph 2005:190).
 
The region is the largest contributor to the European Union's glut (dominance of supply over demand) of wine known as the wine lake.
 
The Languedoc-Roussillon region has adopted a marque to help market its products, in particular, but not limited to, wine. The 'Sud de France' (Southern France) marque was adopted in 2006 to help customers abroad not familiar with the Appellation system to recognise those wines that originated in the L-R area, but the marque is also used for other products, including cheeses, olive oils and pies.

Sport

Languedoc-Roussillon has been a major centre of Rugby league in France since the sport was introduced to the country in the 1930s.

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