Tour Auto 2016: Paris to Cannes Around the Alps

Next year’s Tour Auto misses out most of the mountains on the route from Paris to the Cote d’Azur – but it will feature its first ever night stage.

Also, a quick look at Lithuania’s ‘Garage Towns’. French driver group particularly upset after motorway operators demand road toll increase for next year.

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TOUR AUTO 2016: PARIS TO CANNES AROUND THE ALPS

Next year’s classic French tour sticks mostly to the flat.

Tour Auto prides itself on a different route each year.

Now in its twenty fifth year as a regularity and timed stage test – it was formerly the Tour de France Automobile sports car race – next year’s event runs from 18-14 April on the 1995km between Paris and the Cote d’Azur.

The direct route would take drivers straight over the Alps. However, the organisers have opted to mostly avoid the mountains though the central stages do include the Massif Central.

After the traditional exhibition start at the Grand Palais in Paris, drivers head off to Cannes via Beaune, Lyon, Valence and Marseille.

As well as a succession of timed closed-road stages the tour calls in at Circuit de Dijon-Prenois, Circuit de Bresse, Circuit de Ledonon and Paul Ricard.

Instead of the usual Saturday afternoon finish Tour Auto 2016 finishes later, with its first ever night stage, in a loop around Cannes (which might well include more mountains).

A full itinerary and stage details will be published shortly.

To mark the 25th anniversary, the event will honour previous legends of the tour, the Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta, Jaguar MK II 3.8L, Ligier JS2 and Matra MS 650.

Last year’s Tour Auto headed south from Paris to Clermont Ferrand and the Pyrenees before finishing in Biarritz.

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Agne Gintalaite photographs Lithuanian garage towns. More later.

Beauty Remains: so-called ‘Garage Towns’, a relic of late Socialism, on the outskirts of many towns and cities in Lithuania – sometimes so far away drivers had to catch buses home – are the subject of a new photo series by Agne Gintalaite. ‘Clearly,’ she writes, ‘such garages were not just a matter of convenience, but rather homes for cars, which in turn were not so much a means of transport, but rather mechanical pets, that required time, attention and an array of extraordinary tools to fix them.’ This particular Garage Town is on Prusu Street, south Vilnius. More at Gintalaite.com

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roundup: FRANCE. Outrage today from campaign group ’40 Million Automobilistes’ when it emerged road tolls will increase in 2016. They were frozen this year after an inquiry into ‘excessive profits’ at the operating companies. Under normal circumstances, tolls would rise at 70% of the inflation rate though as that stands at 0.06% the increase should be effectively zero. However, the operators have requested rises ranging from 0.82% on Cofiroute roads in the northwest to 1.63% on the ASF network in the west and south (raising the price of the 246km Bordeaux-Toulouse from €19.10 to €19.41 according to Le Parisien). The operators say a tax deal in 2012 allows them to raise rates from 2016. 40 Million Automobilites said it, ‘Denounces this abusive pricing policy and calls on the Government to refuse the increase, to be voted at a forthcoming meeting.’ It has set up a petition at StopAuxPeagesTropChers.com (To Stop Too Expensive Tolls). Ecology minister Segolene Royal said she was surprised by the announcement since, ‘The commitment was made ​​not to outpace inflation, given the bonanza that had amassed to companies in years past.’

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