Stage 2: Les Essarts > Les Essarts

Today we  start and finish in Les Essarts, still in the department of Vendée.  The good news is that the team time trial has returned to Le Tour.  This means, of course, that we will be seeing the same scenery over and over again as team after team race the 23km loop. This will be fabulous for Team Vaches if the route passes a paddock of grazing cows as we are probably guaranteed to see them more than once, but it will be slim pickings if the only animals we see are on leashes in the crowd.  Keep looking out for those Parthenais from yesterday’s post.  If you see a strangely coloured one it might be a Nantais, which is described as a “parthenais of a different colour”.



Anyway, just in case this stage is cow-free, Essjaymoo has done some research and found a cheese!

Nantais/Curé cheese was originally made by the Curate (or Curé) of Vendée. It was brought into the region of Loire-Atlantic by a monk who was fleeing the Revolution.  The story goes that the area had no cheese when he arrived so I’m thinking he took the only cheese from Vendée with him when he went.  It’s a washed rind cheese, so it will be stinky like some leftover damp lycra.


Stage 1: Passage du Gois > Mont des Alouettes: 191 km

Le Grand Depart finds us three hours north west of Paris, on the Atlantic coast and in the department of Vendée.

It looks like a lovely spot, with castles, oysters, sandy beaches and cobblestone causeways that are cut by the high tides.  This ensures it will be a scenic beginning to the stage at Passage Du Gois, but – alas! – the area is not really known for its cows.

From a cheese point of view – I can really only point to various goats’ cheeses. The best known is wrapped in the leaves of plane trees so you could replicate that quite easily in Melbourne.  Whilst I’m sure the cheeses are quite lovely… goats are just not cows.

The area is also well known for its mutton which is raised on some salt marshes (still not cows!).

Of course, just because a region is not centred on things bovine, it doesn’t mean we won’t see any cattle at all.  I’m going to be holding out for a Parthenais sighting tonight (and perhaps the next couple of stages), but if you were relying on hunting and gathering, I’d suggest you plump for Saltbush Lamb and goats’ cheese.


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