Thursday, 28 July 2011

Fort Medoc, France

My sketch shows Fort Medoc, located about 10 km (6 miles) from Pauillac, where Stage 19 of the 2010 Tour de France finished. It was built in the 17th century on the instructions of King Louis XIV. It has earthen walls and stone buildings and, along with two other forts in the same region, was supposed to guard the region from attackers coming down the River Gironde. However, Fort Medoc has never figured in any military role. Since 1930 it is the property of the local municipality and is used these days to hold concerts.

Stage 19 was Andy Schleck's final chance to overtake Alberto Contador in the overall classification for the yellow jersey and thus to win the 2010 Tour de France. This stage was an individual time trial, and the route was from Bordeaux to Pauillac, a distance of 52 km (about 32.31 miles). The cyclists took off at intervals of around 3 minutes and raced against the clock. But it was widely expected that Contador would increase his lead over Schleck, who in the past had struggled in this discipline.

The initial going surprised all as Schleck set a high pace that Contador, who followed him three minutes later, had difficulty matching. By the first time check Schleck had picked up six seconds, cutting Contador's overall lead to just two seconds on the road. By the second time check Contador had recovered his losses and extended his lead over Schleck by six seconds. Over the final third of the course Contador extended his advantage, gaining an additional twenty-five seconds on his rival for an overall gain of thirty-one seconds for the stage. When added to the lead that he had started the day with, Contador now led Andy Schleck by 39 seconds. Since by tradition the wearer of the yellow jersey would not be challenged on the last day's ride into Paris, this guaranteed Contador victory barring any unfortunnate accident en route.

Fabian Cancellara, the Olympic and World Time Trial Champion, won the time trial and therefore Stage 19. Allesandro Petacchi who had displaced Thor Hushovd in the sprints classification for the green jersey, Anthony Charteau in the king of the mountains category for the polka jersey, and Andy Schleck in the best young rider category for the white jersey, all held on to their respective leads.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Maison Cantonale, Bordeaux, France

My sketch shows the Maison Cantonale (or Canton House), Bordeaux, and is based on a photograph by Maryse33. Built in the early part of the last century, it was completely renovated about five years ago, and presently houses a courtroom, a police station , a library, a conference room and the district council office. Like the rest of my sketches in this series, this one too is approximately 12 cm x 9.5 cm (4.75" x 3.75").

After the physically draining mountain stages the 198 km ride from Salies de Bearn to Bordeaux over a flat stage would have been relatively a jaunt in the park for the survivors of the 2010 Tour de France. This was the 18th Stage of The Tour and to no one's surprise it was won by Mark Cavendish. This was his fourth stage win of the 2010 Tour.

For Andy Schleck time was running out in his quest to pull back time on Contador. He would now have to wait for the next stage, the individual time trial, for his last opportunity. But Alessandro Petacchi was successful in overtaking Thor Hushovd in the sprints category and would therefore wear the green jersey in the 19th stage. There was no change in the other classifications.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Church of St. Mary, Oloron, France

The 19th day of the 2010 Tour de France was a rest day. On the 20th day Pau was the starting point and the destination was Col du Tourmalet featuring one of the toughest climbing sections of the race.

Oloron Sante-Marie is located close to Pau on this route . The original town was destroyed in the 9th century, and re-built across the River Aspe in the 11th century. Later in the same century a new town was built over the ruins of the earlier town and thus there were two rival towns on either side of the river until they were ordered to merge in the 19th century.

My sketch shows the Oloron Cathedral which was built between the 12th and 14th centuries and is a world heritage site. It was the seat of the Bishopric of Oloron until 1801. Now no longer a cathedral, it is instead called the Church of St. Mary, Oloron.

My sketch is approximately 12 cm x 9.5 cm (4.75" x 3.75").

In cycling the term "queen stage" is used to describe the toughest stage of a multi-day road stage, and Stage 17 of the 2010 Tour de France from Pau to Col du Tourmalet was considered the Queen Stage of the year's Tour. This stage covered a distance of 174 km (108 miles) and had two Category 1, and one Category H climb.

The stage turned into a battle between the top two riders of the tour. Schleck and Contador left the rest of the field behind on the day's final climb to the Col du Tourmalet but, despite attacking Contador several times, Schleck could not distance himself from Contador. Ultimately Schleck won the stage but Contador kept the overall lead and the yellow jersey. With only two flat stages and an individual time trial to follow Schleck was running out of time in his bid to wrest the title from Contador.

There was no change in the other classifications with Thor Hushovd leading in the sprints classification (green jersey), Anthony Charteau in the king of the mountains classification (polka jersey) and Andy Schleck in the best young rider classification (white jersey).

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Henry IV Castle, Pau, France

This 12 cm x 9.5 cm (4.75" x 3.75") pen & ink sketch is of the Henry IV Castle, Pau where Stage 16 of the 2010 Tour de France finished. Built on a rocky ridge overlooking a ford on the River Gave, the castle’s foundations date from the early Middle-Ages. But the present form of the castle is thanks to Gaston Febus, viscount of Bearn in the 14th century. Henri IV one of France's most popular kings was born here in 1553 and ruled during the late 16th and early 17th centuries, until he was murdered in 1610 in Paris. He is remembered for the Edict of Nantes by which he gave back the rights and possessions of the Protestants.

Restored by King Louis-Philippe, the castle became a museum in 1926. Alongside the royal apartments, it is home to several collections devoted to King Henri and a great number of tapestries, making it the biggest tapestry museum in France outside Paris.

My sketch is based mainly on reference photographs by Jibi44 and Pierre Ollivier, plus a few uncredited photographs that I found on the internet.

Pau is also associated with the aviation industry in France. It is where the world's first flying school was inaugurated by the Wright brothers in 1909. Roland Garros (after whom the venue of the French Open Tennis tournament is named) was one of the pilots who graduated from this school.

Stage 16 started from Bagneres de Luchon on the 18th day of the Tour de France 2010, and finished at Pau. This represented one of the tougher segments of the year's race. It was a 199.5 km (124 miles) gruelling mountain stage with two Category 1 and two Category H climbs. The Stage was won by Pierrick Fedrigo, while Alberto Contador clung on to the lead that he had so controversially acquired the previous day in the overall (yellow jersey) classification. Thor Hushovd took the lead once again from Alessandro Petacchi in the sprints point classification for the green jersey. Anthony Charteau and Andy Schleck retained their leads in the king of the mountains (polka jersey), and the best young rider (white jersey) classifications.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Village of Audressein, France

The picturesque village of Audressein lies on the route taken by the riders on the 17th day of the Tour de France 2010 from Pamiers to Bagnerese de Luchon. The village has two churches, the 13th century St. Martin's Church and the Notre-Dame de Tramesaygues church which is a World Heritage site.

Audressein has another claim to fame. It took part in the 19th century "War of the Maidens". From the middle ages the people of the region had enjoyed autonomy and depended on the forests for their sustenance and livelihood. But, in 1829 King Charles X introduced new forestry laws and a forestry administation which was very much resented by the local population. The peasants, disguised as women, and wearing long white shirts, head scarves, wigs and blackened faces, attacked the large land owners at night. Though they had few weapons, the "maidens" managed to instill fear amongst the landowners. The conflict was particularly intense from 1829 to 1832, and continued sporadically until 1872, but ultimately the peasants succeded in getting the forestry laws relaxed.

My sketch shows a view of the village of Audressein, and measures 12 cm x 9.5 cm (4.75" x 3.75").

Coming back to the cycling...this was Stage 15 of the 2010 Tour de France and proved to be quite dramatic. The route from Pamiers to Bagnerese de Luchon covered 187.5 km (117 miles) and had several climbs including a Category H climb followed by a steep and winding descent almost upto the finish.

Andy Schleck who had lead the Tour through many of the previous stages was leading while ascending the final climb of the day when his cycle had a mechanical problem. The chain slipped. Contador immediately overtook Schleck and pressed on all the way to the finish. Schleck tried very hard to claw his way back, but since he had been leading at that point, it also meant that he was alone and with none of his teamamates, or for that matter any other cyclist, to help him. Contador finished 39 seconds ahead of Schleck on this stage and this gave him the yellow jersey with a 8 second lead in the overall classification.

The manner in which Contador claimed the yellow jersey came in for a lot of criticism. I was watching the live telecast and was shocked to see Contador taking advantage of such a situation. The incident involving Lance Armstrong and Jan Ullrich in 2003 was still fresh in my memory. This was during an intense 6 year rivalry between the two. Once again it was during Stage 15 of that year's Tour that Armstrong was knocked to the ground during the final climb of the day because a spectator's bag strap got entangled in his cycle's handlebar. But, although Ullrich was desperate to beat Armstrong and win the Tour, he refused to take advantage of the situation. He waited until Armstrong recovered and caught up with him and then tried to beat him fair and square. But Armstrong won the stage and later the Tour by 61 seconds with Ullrich finishing second.

In 2010, Stage 15 was won by Thomas Voeckler, but more importantly Contador finally displaced Andy Schleck at the head of the overall classification (yellow jersey).

Chateau de Foix, France

Chateau de Foix is located slightly off the route from Revel to Ax 3 Domaines, covered by the Tour de France 2010 on the 16th day. This was the 184.5 km (115 miles) Stage 14 of the race, a severely testing mountain stage with a 15.5 km and 7.9% gradient Category H climb followed immediately by a 7.8 km and 8.2 % gradient Category 1 climb. The stage was won by Christophe Riblon but the rest of the standings stayed as they were.

The castle was built on existing 7th century fortifications and there are documented records of its existence from the 10th century. The round tower is the most recent addition, built in the 15th century, while the square towers were probably built in the 11 th century.They served as a political and civil prison for four centuries until 1862.

In 1626, Cardinal Richelieu abolished the position of Constable of France and ordered all fortified castles to be razed, excepting only those needed to defend against invaders. Thus, he stripped the princes, dukes, and lesser aristocrats of important defences that could have been used against the King's armies during rebellions. As a result, Richelieu was hated by most of the nobility. But, Chateau de Foix alone was exempted from the destruction.

The castle's location high over a rocky projection dominated the region and its impregnable walls ensured that, though it was attacked many times, it was taken only once, and even on that occasion only due to the treachery of a member of the family.

Since 1930 Chateau de Foix has functioned as a museum concentrating on the history of the region Ariege, the history of the castle, and life during the period of the Counts.

My sketch is based on a photograph by Muhammad Ector Prasetyo, and is 12.5 cm x 9.5 cm (4.75" x 3.75").

Monday, 11 July 2011

Rodez Cathedral, France

The 15th day of the Tour de France 2010 saw the cyclists ride in the 13th Stage of the race from Rodez to Revel, a relatively flat stage of 196 km or 122 miles. The stage was won by Alexander Vinokourov. Alessandro Petacchi wrested the green jersey for the sprints classification from Thor Hushovd. There were no changes in the overall classification (yellow jersey), the mountain classification (polka jersey) and the best young rider classification (white jersey). The yellow and white jerseys stayed with Andy Schleck, while Anthony Charteau contined to wear the polka jersey.

As I write this the 2011 Tour de France is in progress and yesterday was a day of carnage. Sadly Vinokourov, who had planned to retire after this Tour, suffered a horrible crash and had to be rushed to the hospital. It is feared that he suffered several fractures including a broken pelvis and a fractured elbow.

Rodez, the starting point of last year's 13th Stage is known to have existed from at least the 5th century B.C. It was founded by the Celts and was later part of the Roman Empire. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire Rodez was captured by the Visigoths, the Franks, the Arabs, and then the English during the 100 years war.

During medieval times there was very strong rivaly between the counts and bishops of Rodez who exercised strong control over different parts of the city. This resulted in Rodez being divided by a wall cutting across the city.

There is mention of Rodez Cathedral in 6th Century A.D. itself. But very little of it remained some centuries later. It was rebuilt in the 11th century but once again very little of it remained by the early 13th century. The reconstruction of the Cathedral began yet again in the 13th century and was completed in the 16th century.

My sketch shows the western face of the church and is based on a photograph by Jean Paul Cronimus. This face of the church is very solid looking, with relatively few openings, since it was part of the city's defence wall. The sketch is 9.5cm x 12cm (3.75" x 4.75").

Sunday, 10 July 2011

St. Barnard de Romans Abbey, France

The cyclists on the Tour de France 2010 started from Bourg de Peage on day 14 of the Tour and raced upto Mende. This was the 12th Stage of the Tour, a distance of 210.5 km or 131 miles, and it had two Category 2 and three Category 3 climbs. The stage was won by Joaquim Rodriguez. Thor Hushovd won the green jersey (the sprint points classification) back from Alessandro Petacchi while Anthony Charteau displaced Jerome Pineau as the leader in the mountain classification (polka jersey). Andy Schleck continued to wear the yellow jersey as the overall leader of the Tour, and also led in the best young rider classification (white jersey).

This was also the stage where Team Radio Shack came to the top of the standings in the Team competition. Entry to the Tour de France is by invitation, and only as a member of an invited team. Twenty-two teams of nine riders each are invited every year, making a field of 198 riders. The team prize is decided by adding up the cumulative times of the three best riders from each team. Members of the leading team wear jersey numbers in black on yellow.

The St. Barnard de Romans Abbey is located close to Bourg de Peage. Barnard was a married man in the court of Charlemagne who suddenly decided to devote himself to the service of God. He entered the monastry at Bresse and became Archbishop of Vienna in 810 AD. The Abbey of Romans was founded by St. Barnard in the 9th century on the banks of river Isere and developed over several centuries into the present beautiful building complex.

Bourg-de-Péage owes its destiny and name to the presence of the bridge over the Isère River built in the Middle Ages for the Abbey. The town acquired a solid reputation in the 19th century thanks to its production of felt hats, made from the fur of pet rabbits. The firm Maison Mossant, the largest factory, employed more than 1,200 workers at its peak and made Bourg-de- Péage the capital of hat-making. But as the use of hats went out of fashion this industry died out and new businesses related to innovative technology have sprung up.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Tour de Crest, France

The 13th day of the 2010 Tour de France witnessed the 11th Stage from Sisteron to Bourg-lès-Valence, a distance of 184.5 km (about 115 miles). This was a flat stage with only one category 3 climb, and Mark Cavendish, once again brilliantly led out by his teammate Mark Renshaw, proved too good for the others at the finish. But this victory, his third on this Tour, came at a steep price because Renshaw was disqualified from the Tour for headbutting another rider as he was leading out Cavendish to the finish.

This stage also saw Alessandro Petacchi take over the green jersey from Thor Hushovd. Andy Schleck retained the yellow jersey as the overall leader of the Tour, and the white jersey as the leader in the best young rider classification. Jerome Pineau continued to lead in the mountain classification and retained the polka jersey.

Crest lies on the route taken by the Tour de France 2010 from Sisteron to Bourg-les-Valence. It straddles ancient trade routes and was therefore an important place even prior to the Roman Empire. It is known that the Crest Castle was in existence in the 12th century itself, since there is a record of Pope Calixte II sending out a letter from Chateau de Crest. Around this time the medieval town of Crest grew around the castle.

The huge square main tower built of dressed stone, the tallest dungeon in France, was built in the late 14th century. But, in the 17th century the castle was destroyed on the orders of King Louis XIII who found it "potentially dangerous". It was Cardinal Richelieu (one of the main characters in Alexander Dumas' "The Three Musketeers") who carried out his king's orders. The tower alone was spared and used as a prison until the late 19th century.

Crest is now a tourist centre with plenty of events like its vocal jazz festival. The Tour de Crest is classified as a historical monument and, since 1988, it belongs to the town. Tourists are allowed to visit it.

My sketch of the tower is approximately 9.5 cm x 12 cm. It is a fairly quick sketch and I probably spent more time drawing the foliage than the main building.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Dukes of Savoy Castle, Chambery, France

The route for the 12th day of the Tour de France 2010 was from Chambery to Gap. This was a 179 km (111 miles) long medium mountain stage with three major climbs. The first of these was a severely testing Category 1 climb, 7 km long with a 9% gradient. After the third climb the descent is very winding and tricky. In 2003 it was here that Joseba Beloki fell and to avoid hitting him Lance Armstrong was forced to make an even steeper off-the-road detour and went on to win the Tour that year for the 5th time.

This time the stage was won by Sergio Paulinho. and the only change in leadership was in the mountain classification in which Jerome Pineau regained the polka jersey. Andy Schleck retained leadership in the overall classification (yellow jersey) and the best young rider classification (white jersey), while Thor Hushovd continued to lead the points classification (green jersey).

Chambery has existed as a town from the middle ages when it used to be called Lemencum. The name underwent several changes over the centuries and in the 17th century it came to be known as Chamberi. Since the town was very strategically located at the crossroads of ancient routes it was politically very active from the 13th century to the 19th century.

The Savoy family moved into an existing castle in Chamberium, as it was then known in the 13th century, and then made many changes and additions to it. Chateau Chambery or the Dukes of Savoy Castle, as it was called, served as the seat of power of the House of Savoy until the 16th century, when it was shifted to Turin because it was felt that this castle was difficult to fortify. However the castle stayed with the Savoy family until the 19th century.

Today the Dukes of Savoy Castle is owned by the state and serves as an administrative centre.

Incidentally Chambery is the French town devoting the most funds to facilitate public reading. The town even hires people to read to blind people and interestingly, a baby reader card is awarded to every child born in Chambery. As a result of such initiatives the number of books borrowed from libraries in Chambery is three times the national average.

My sketch of the Dukes of Savoy Castle is approximately 12 cm x 9.5 cm.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

The Charterhouse at Melan, France

Day 10 of the Tour de France 2010 was a rest day.

On day 11, Stage 9 of the 2010 Tour de France was a testing 204.5 km (127 miles) mountain stage with a Category 2, two Category 1, and one Category H climbs followed by a steep descent to the finishing point. The stage was won by Sandy Casar and Andy Schleck took over the yellow jersey (the race leadership) from Cadel Evans while simultaneously retaining the white jersey as the best young rider. Thor Hushovd continued to lead the points classification (green jersey) while Anthony Charteau took over the polka jersey for the mountain classification.

The route from Morzine Avariaz to St Jean de Maurienne took the cyclists past the the Melan Charterhouse. This charterhouse was founded in 1285 by Beatrice of Faucigny (later of Savoy) who wanted to be buried in it with her son John the First of Burgundy. But the nuns and priests of the monastery were forced out of it during the French Revolution in 1793. The charterhouse changed hands before becoming an orphanage in 1914. It was partly destroyed by fire in 1967, but is now the Centre of Contemporary Art of the department, hosting concerts and exhibitions.

As usual this sketch is also about 12 cm x 9.5 cm (though a considerable part of the 9.5 cm is just the sky).

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Beaureagard Castle, Saint-Jeoire, France

This is the Beaureagard Castle which nestles on the tree covered slopes of Saint Jeoire, on the route taken by the Tour de France 2010 to get from Station des Rousses to Morzine Avoriaz on the 9th day (Stage 8) of the tour. Around the year 1000, Benedictines settled in the village where they built a chapel dedicated to St George, who gave his name to the village. The castle was built in the 13th century by a family of Scottish origin and remained in the same family until 2004, when its owner gave it to the Annecy diocese. It now hosts a religious community. My drawing is approximately 12 cm x 9.5 cm and is based on a reference photograph by Cyr0z.

The distance covered by the riders was 189 km (around 117 miles) but more importantly this was a mountain stage with two category 1 climbs. Mountain climbs are rated for their difficulty based on steepness, the length of the climb, and their position on the day's route. The easiest climbs are rated 4 and the the category number decreases as the difficulty rating increases. Category 1 climbs are therefore considered very difficult, but there are some climbs which are considered even tougher than category 1 climbs. Such climbs were described as being outside or beyond classification. In 1979 it was decided to call such climbs as hors categorie or Category H climbs. The two category 1 climbs of the day were one of 14.3 km length at 6.8%, and 13.6 km at 6.1% and the difficulty was compounded by the fact that they came towards the end of the day's route when the cyclists were already exhausted.

The stage was won by Andy Schleck. Sylvain Chavanel surrendered the yellow jersey (indicative of the person leading the Tour de France) to Cadel Evans. The green jersey for the points classification stayed with Thor Hushovd, and likewise the polka jersey for the mountain classification, and the white jersey for the best young (under 25 years) rider stayed with Jerome Pineau and Andy Schleck respectively.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Abbey of St. Philibert, Tournus, France

The route for the 8th day of the Tour de France 2010 was from Tournus to Station de Rousses, a distance of 165.5 km or 103 miles. This was the 7th Stage and it was a medium mountain stage. Sylvain Chavanel won the Stage and with it the yellow jersey. Thor Hushovd retained the green jersey, Jerome Pineau went to the top of the mountain classification points table and took over the red polka dot jersey, while Andy Schleck took over the white jersey signifying the best young rider (under 26 years) from Geraint Thomas.

Tournus is a riverside town on the banks of the River Saone. St. Valerian brought christianity to this place in the 2nd century A.D. But he was executed by the Romans and his tomb became a secret place of pilgrimage for the christians of that period. When christianity became legal under Emperor Constantine a monastery was founded on the site in the 6th century A.D. But in the 9th century King Charles the Bald offered the Abbey of St. Valerian to the followers of St. Philibert because their monastery had been captured by the Normans. The Tournus Abbey therefore had the not very common experience of being shared by two different monastic communities devoted to St. Valerian, and St. Philibert.

Today the Tournus Abbey is known as Abbey of St. Philbert and dominates Tournus. It is a fortress like Romanesque church with many interesting features. Amongst other features it has a an impressively tall nave with an unusual vault, carved capitals and floor mosaics depicting the zodiac.

My sketch shows the Abbey as seen from within its courtyard, and is based on a photograph by Jan Sokol. the sketch is about 9.5 cm x 12 cm.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Roman style church at Gueugnon, France

Stage 6 of the Tour de France 2010 saw the longest stage of the year's race - Montargis to Gueugnon a distance of 227.5 km (about 141 miles), which the riders covered in about 5 hours. This was yet another flat stage with a well contested sprint finish at the end. Mark Renshaw led out Mark Cavendish for his second consecutive stage win. But Fabian Cancellara held on to the overall lead, and Thor Hushovd coninued at the top of the Points Classification.

The leader in each of the classifications is awarded a distinctive jersey which they wear while competing the next raceday. The overall leader wears a yellow jersey, the points classification (points are awarded to the riders based on their daily performance, but it is weighted in favour of sprinters, and is therefore sometimes referred to as the sprint classification) leader werars a green jersey, the leader in the mountains classification wears a white jersey with red dots, and the leader in the young rider category wears a white jersey. The riders consider it a great honour to wear these prestigious jerseys for even part of the 21-day Tour de France. Of course winning the coveted jerseys at the end of the race at Paris is everyone's dream

Gueugnon, where Stage 6 finished, is a village/town in southern Burgundy known both for its Charolais cows as well as its forges. Gueugnon got its first forge in the early 18th century, and since then the size of its population has been directly linked to the prosperity of its forges.

The Roman style Church that I have sketched is from a reference photograph by Havang(nl). I particularly liked the simple, but pleasing facade, and the selective use of lighter coloured stone to draw the viewers' attention.

My sketch is approximately 9.5 cm x 12 cm.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

St. Quiriace Church, Provins, France

On 8th July 2010, Stage 5 of the 2010 Tour de France started at Emperney and finished at Montargis, a distance of 187.5 km, after winding its way through Provins. The stage was a flat one and was won by Mark Cavendish, a brilliant sprinter who would cover himself in glory during the 2010 Tour. Fabian Cancellara retained the overall lead.

Provins is located about 77 km south-east of Paris, and was famous in medieval times for its fairs which were held thrice a year and attracted traders from all over Europe and the East. In the 12th century Henri the Liberal, Count of Champagne decided to build a new church on the site of an existing collegiate church of the College of St. Quiriace. But this church was never completed as planned because of the high cost of constructing it to its original design.

In the 16th century it was decided to seal the unfinished nave and accept the truncated design. The upper portion of the church with the large and impressive dome was completed only in the 17th century. Soon the elite families that lived around the church came to be known as "the children of the dome".

The area around Provins is generally flat and the church is built on the highest point. St. Quiriace Church and its dome are beautifully lit up every evening and therefore visible from miles around as one approaches Provins.

As I write and post this, the 2011 Tour de France is due to start today, and yes...we do have tv coverage of the event in India. I am therefore planning to follow the race closely and sketch a memento of each day's route just as I did last year.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Basilica St. Remi, Reims (Rheims)

Day 5 of the 2010 Tour de France saw the 4th Stage being run from Cambrai in Northern France to Reims (formerly known as Rheims), a distance of a little over 150 km. This was once again a flat stage and the day's race was won by Alessandro Petacchi. However Fabian Cancellara retained the overall lead.

Reims is located in the French region called Champagne, and when France was a monarchy, this was where the coronation of the rulers took place in Rheims Cathedral. However I have sketched the Basilica of St. Remi and not the cathedral.

This basilica was originally the abbey church of an abbey founded in the 6th century, and came to be known as the Abbey of St. Remi because it held the relic of St. Remi the Bishop of Reims who converted the King of Franks to Christianity in the 11th century A.D. This was also the abbey where Charlemagne received Pope Leo lll.

The original church was built in the 6th century but rebuilt in the 11th century, and added to in the 12th, 13th, 15th, 17th, and 19th centuries. During the first world war it was very badly damaged (like Rheims Cathedral), but was very carefully restored over a 40 year period.

My sketch of the Basilica St. Remi is approximately 12cm x 10cm and I am grateful to Mattis whose photgraph of the Basilica I have used as reference.