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Picardy

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Picardy: 49.641312, 2.808105

A Home to the Sprinters

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With its grand cathedral looming over the rest of the city, Amiens is a gorgeous city in the heart of the Somme. It is also a long-time host to the Tour de France having finished in the city ten times. With its flat surroundings, a finish into Amiens is always a fast sprint to the line. Of those ten finishes, the breakaway has only succeeded twice, 11 and 13 seconds ahead of the rest of the field. While Amiens’s first introduction to the Tour de France came relatively late in the Tour’s history on Stage 20 of the 1932 race, it became a staple of the route in the 1960s and 1970s when it hosted six times. During the three 1970s Tours, the Belgians dominated, winning all three stages in 1970, 1971, and 1975. More recently, Johan Bruyneel won a daring break in 1993 (25 years ago), thirteen seconds ahead Mario Cipollini. Only three years ago, Andre Greipel led the peloton home and claimed his second (of four) wins of that Tour de France. The 2018 Tour de France will likely prove to be like many of its predecessors, with an exciting bunch sprint. Grab a place close to the finish line and enjoy the excitement.

Chantilly’s Prix de Diane

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Yes, Chantilly is synonymous with lace and its picture-perfect chateau, but one day out of the year it is also THE place to be seen. That’s because each June the Hippodrome de Chantilly holds the incomparable Prix de Diane. The Hippodrome lies at the edge of the enormous 6,300 hectares Forêt de Chantilly and just south of the town’s main attraction, the Château de Chantilly (1358-1882). In fact, from the racetrack’s grandstand, spectators look right on the beautiful castle across one of its many moats. Among others, the Hippodrome is home to the Prix du Jockey Club and the Prix de Diane. While the former is slightly older, both were first run in the 1830s and 1840s and only open to three-year old fillies for the Diane and colts and fillies for the Jockey race. Indicative of the area’s prestige as a thoroughbred training center, Paris’ most fashionable and wealthiest come out particularly for the Prix de Diane. This past year, the race was held on June 19. It’s an all-day affair with the race only being part of the show. Perhaps the main contest is to crown Mademoiselle Diane, or Elegance Contest. All the ladies come to Prix de Diane dressed to impress, only to be topped, literally, by their exotic and Audrey Hepburn-esque hat. Whether for people or horse watching, the Chantilly Hippodrome is a historic venue that plays to the haute characteristics France has become so well-known for: elegance, fashion, and chateaux.

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