The towns / A sporting view
Situated in the Vallée d’Abondance, at an altitude of 1,200 m, the medium mountain resort of Châtel is recognised as a "Pays d’Art et d’Histoire” (literally “Land of Art and History”, a label awarded by the French Ministry of Culture and Communication). It is a stone’s throw from Switzerland, boasts the family-friendly label “Famille Plus Montagne” and is part of the magnificent French-Swiss Portes du Soleil area. It covers 12 resorts with 650km of ski slopes and 198 ski lifts in winter and 850km waymarked trails, with 24 ski lifts in summer spread over the length of the Franco-Swiss border, which are used by hikers and bikers. The town thus has a definite sporting vocation – but its tourist attractions focus on the wide range of activities and many opportunities to let off steam and relax; taking advantage in particular of the therapeutic properties of the great outdoors. However, many of the inhabitants of Châtel (around thirty families) still work on the land, in particular in cattle farming (there are several hundred cows of the Abondance breed which celebrated its 120th anniversary in 2011) and the production of the famous Abondance cheese (an AOC since 1990).
Surrounded by lakes, forests and rivers, the Oyonnax Basin lends itself to walks in the summer months and Nordic activities in the winter, with several ski resorts in the vicinity. Economically, the town built its reputation around the manufacture of combs and wooden hair ornaments. But it was the polymer industry at the end of the 19th century which made the town world famous for its plastic manufacturing, demonstrated today through the expertise of some 600 companies. “Plastic Valley” is thus one of the department's four industrial centres of excellence. The town of Oyonnax is also outstanding for its sporting excellence, with high quality facilities, 70 dynamic sports associations, and the unwavering support of local politicians ensuring that everyone has access to a wide range of sports. With a fierce reputation, the Charles Mathon Stadium is home to the Union Sportive Oyonnax Rugby Team which celebrated its promotion to the Top 14 in 2013! As for culture, the Aragon Cultural Centre in Oyannax is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. It accommodates a conservatory, a multimedia library, cinemas, exhibition rooms and a museum, as well as two auditoriums.
Jersey wearers after the stage 8
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