France Republique Francaise
Area: 547,030 sq km
Climate: generally cool winters and mild summers, but mild winters and hot summers along the Mediterranean
Terrain: mostly flat plains or gently rolling hills in north and west; remainder is mountainous, especially Pyrenees in south, Alps in east
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Rhone River delta -2 m highest point: Mont Blanc 4,807 m
Geographynote: largest West European nation; occasional strong, cold, dry, north-to-northwesterly wind known as mistral
Population: 58,978,172 (July 1999 est.)
Ethnic groups: Celtic and Latin with Teutonic, Slavic, North African, Indochinese, Basque minorities
Religions: Roman Catholic 90%, Protestant 2%, Jewish 1%, Muslim (North African workers) 1%, unaffiliated 6%
Languages: French 100%, rapidly declining regional dialects and languages (Provencal, Breton, Alsatian, Corsican, Catalan, Basque, Flemish)
Jule Verne (1828-1905) was borne in Nantes and studied law in Paris. His first story "Five Weeks in A Ballon" was published in 1863 and was a big success. Verne continued to write several bestsellers such as "A Journey to the Centre of the Earth", "From the Earth to the Moon and "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea". His biggest success though was "Le Tour du monde en quatre-vingt jours" (Around the World in Eighty Days, 1873). In his stories Verne combined adventure with science. His amazingly accurate predictions about the future of technology make him not only one the first modern science fiction writers but arguably also one of the best.
Passepartout is another Frenchman relating to our adventure. He is the butler of Phileas Fogg and therefore one of the two men to make the trip in 80 days.
An electronic version of Jules Verne's (1828-1905) "Around the World in 80 Days" (1873), provided by the Project Gutenberg, can be found here (369 KB!). If you prefer the more comfortable HTML version (with pictures and chapters) you need to follow this link.
Route notes of the rally:
coming from the United Kingdom.
Monday 1st May - Day 1 London to Chantilly 394km
London's Tower Bridge is closed for our starting grid. After a high profile mid morning start, a quick dash to Dover (crossing the Greenwich Meridian on the way) sees you on the ferry for France and the start of the long distance adventure. A pleasant drive through the blossom fields and villages of the Pas de Calais and Picardie will bring you to the first night halt in the Chateau de Montvillargenne, built for the Rothschild's at the start of this century in Chantilly just north of Paris.
Tuesday 2nd May - Day 2 Chantilly to Aix les Bains 624km
A long day awaits so it will be an early start, your route taking you out from Chantilly past the famous Chateau and Ecuries. Keeping well clear of the Paris commuter traffic, the route swings south east into Burgundy and the vine clad hills south of Dijon. After crossing the valley of the Saone the route becomes more demanding as it climbs into the Jura mountains before entering the graceful lake side town of Aix les Bains. A Special Test by the lake.
Wednesday 3rd May - Day 3 Aix les Bains to Santa Margherita 500km
The Alps lie ahead, but at this time of year the only way into Italy is under them! Fast roads take you to the Frejus Tunnel before a loop of mountain roads take us to a control in the shadow of one of the largest fortresses that you have ever seen. The broad valley of the River Po is crossed on fast back roads before some testing sections into the Ligurian Hills. Finally, the Mediterranean coast is reached near Genoa and it is an easy Autostrada run to the pretty Italian seaside town of Santa Margherita.
moving on to Italy.
On the return:
coming from Spain.
Sunday 16th July - Day 78 Terrasa to Clermont-Ferrand 620km
Following a similar pattern, you leave the coastline just before Montpellier and head north through France to reach the end of a long day and Clermont-Ferrand.
Monday 17th July - Day 79 Clermont-Ferrand to Laon 520km
Heading north through Saone passing Troyes and Reims to Laon.
Tuesday 18th July - Day 80 Laon to London 360km
Taking advantage of the E15 takes you to Calais for the crossing back into the UK. After a short break at Brands Hatch Racing Circuit for a brief re-group before heading into the city and finish at the Royal Mint.
moving on to the United Kingdom.