TASTE OF THE TOUR: Macarons in Macron's birthplace
CHARTRES, France (AP) — Macarons will be an appropriate treat to try in the birthplace of French president Emmanuel Macron on Saturday as the Tour de France arrives in Amiens at the end of Stage 8 on Bastille Day.
Made of sugar, honey, almonds and egg whites, macarons have been a specialty of the northern city since the 16th century, when they were introduced by Catherine de Medici.
Macron's wife, Brigitte, is the great granddaughter of Jean-Baptiste Trogneux, who is credited with coming up with the definitive macaron recipe for Amiens in 1872.
While former president Nicolas Sarkozy was a huge Tour fan, Macron has been seen taking a spin on a bike while wearing an eye-catching white scarf.
Macron earned the ire of the increasing numbers of bike couriers who took to the streets last August to protest for workers' protections, and against his plans to reduce labor regulations.
France will be celebrating its national holiday the day before its football team plays Croatia in the final of the World Cup in Moscow on Sunday.
A UNESCO World Heritage site, Notre-Dame d'Amiens surpasses in size France's two other great 13th-century cathedrals in Reims and Chartres, where Stage 7 finished.
Here's a gastronomic, sporting and cultural glance at the day's route:
BAGUETTE AND BUTTER: The mostly flat 181-kilometer (112.4-mile) ride from Dreux to Amiens comes before the cobbled sectors of Stage 9, and the Alps and Pyrenees, so sprinters need to make the most of it.
PLAT DU JOUR: The leg passes through the town of Eure, where you can try the local goose rillettes (a spreadable pate), or dig into "andouillettes," sausages made of pig intestines, pork or veal, onions and wine.
VIN DU JOUR: The northern region of Picardy is more champagne than wine country, but ciders, beers and "eau de vie" (water of life) fruit brandy are also produced.
CULTURE: Amiens became the home and final resting place of Jules Verne, the writer who spawned the genre of science fiction with such classics as "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea," ''Around the World in 80 Days" and "Journey to the Center of the Earth."
HISTORY: The route approaches the battlefields of the Somme on the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. The battle that raged for four months resulted in more than 1 million losses for both sides, and yet hardly any ground changed hands.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "It was quite long — 230k. You can ask the question, is this really necessary in a Grand Tour?" — leader Greg Van Avermaet on the long and uneventful Stage 7.
STAT OF THE DAY: 4 — The number of years since a French rider has worn the yellow jersey, the longest drought in Tour history.
FROMAGE: The Feuille de Dreux, or Dreux leaf, is a cow-milk cheese covered in chestnut leaves. It is made from cream from the region around Paris but skimmed to make it low in fat.
NEXT ORDER: Behinds beware! Treacherous cobblestones return to the Tour on Stage 9 with more than 21 kilometers (13 miles) broken into 15 sectors of the hilly 156.5-kilometer route between Arras and Roubaix.
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