What do savory white beans and chocolate treats in the shape of Napoleon’s head have in common besides melting in your mouth?
They can both be enjoyed on Sunday when the Tour de France swings away from the salt water and wind-swept coast of the opening stage and cuts an incomplete circle through the Vendee region, chock full of delicacies as well as reminders of France’s enthralling past.
The Tour commemorates the centennial of the end of World War I by starting Stage 2 in Mouilleron-Saint-Germain, the hometown of the man credited with rallying France during its darkest hour in the conflict.
The flat stage ends 182.5 kilometers (113 miles) later in La Roche-sur-Yon, which in 1934 was the starting point of the first ever individual time trial for the Tour, when eventual race winner Antonin Magne was the quickest.
Here’s a gastronomic, sporting and cultural glance at the day’s route:
BAGUETTE AND BUTTER: The second of two flat stages to get the Tour going, it’s another day for the sprinters to shine while the favorites will want to avoid the crashes that slowed the likes of Chris Froome, Richie Porte and Nairo Quintana on Saturday.
PLAT DU JOUR: The Vendee region proudly cultivates a delicious white bean called “la mogette” that can accompany meat dishes or be piled on a piece of “prefou” garlic toast with generous amounts of rich butter. It can also be made into a refreshing “creme de mogettes” soup that is served cold.
HISTORY: Mouilleron is the hometown of Georges Clemenceau , who earned the moniker of “Father Victory” after he became premier of France in 1917 and bolstered the war effort. He was one of the architects of the Treaty of Versailles that concluded World War I.
VIN DU JOUR: While you could go for the La Barbiniere wines of Saint-Philbert-du-Pont-Charrault, why not wash down those white beans with a La Musse beer? Matured in casks that previously held whiskey, rum or brandy, these unfiltered brews earned the prize of excellence at France’s national agriculture contest this year.
CULTURE: Vikings, gladiators and musketeers are just some of the historical characters the Puy du Fou theme park in Les Epesses brings to life in action-filled shows. The park was used to unveil the Tour teams in 1993 and 2011.
STAT OF THE DAY: Six. The number of riders for the eight-man Direct Energie team who come from the local Vendee U. feeder team.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “It’s part of the game unfortunately.” Chris Froome on crashing five kilometers from the finish of Stage 1.
DESSERT: La Napoline chocolate, including caramel and pralines, shaped like the head of Napoleon Bonaparte, who established La Roche-sur-Yon as the region’s capital and ordered an expansion of the town.
NEXT ORDER: The Tour stays nearby with a 35-kilometer team time trial starting and finishing in Cholet for Stage 3 on Sunday.
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