Places of Interest nearby
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The Col de la République or Col de Grand Bois is located at 1,161 m. It was the first col the Tour de France did above 1000m. It was the second day of the first Tour d France in 1903. From Saint-Étienne (north), the climb is 17 km long. Over this distance, it gains 644 m at an average of 3.8%. The maximum gradient is 6.3%. From the south, the climb starts at Bourg-Argental; from here, the ascent is 12 km long, climbing 626 m at an average of 5.2%, with a maximum of 7.9%. At the top is a monument in memory of Paul de Vivie, who wrote under the pseudonym Vélocio and was important in the development of bicycle touring. The col de la République was his favourite morning ride. Every year since 1922 the volunteers of the ‘Comité Vélocio de Saint-Étienne’ have organized the Journée Vélocio (Vélocio Day-Trip), a 12.788 km climb of the col.
The COl de la République was the scene of some of the most notorious violence in the history of the tour when supporters of the regional favourite Antoine Fauré attacked his opponents. It was 1904. This caused the organizers to avoid the Loire department until the 1950 Tour de France. In 1905, the tour’s organiser Henri Desgrange chose to ignore the col de la République, and focused instead on the introduction of the Ballon d’Alsace, because he saw that he had missed the opportunity of publicity previously.
Col de la République and the hamlet of ‘La République’ derive from the attempt by members of the Beguine religious sect to found an independent community there called the Republic of Jesus Christ. The Beguines were well established in Saint-Jean-Bonnefonds, but in November 1794 they moved 20 kilometres to the plateau to be ready for the arrival of the prophet Elijah.