Auxerre is one of those middle-sized towns that have found the formula to turn their storied past into a launch pad to the future. Recognised as a "City of Art and History" since 1995, the gateway to Burgundy from Paris knows how to pique the interest of visitors with its architectural heritage, iconic monuments such as Saint Germanus's Abbey and the Clock Tower, picture-postcard streets, a host of cultural activities and events, and fine foods.

The Auxerrois, surrounded by big-name vineyards (Chablis, Irancy, Saint-Bris, Coulanges, Chitry…), is also the starting point of the Burgundy Wine Route. It boasts a pleasant and dynamic living environment, with no shortage of green spaces, bicycle paths and first-rate sports venues, in line with the increasingly widespread green priorities of people in France.

However, the Auxerre conurbation is also undergoing a sea change as it strives to become the home of innovation with a winning combination of economic growth and green transition. Through its development of solutions such as green hydrogen, the Auxerrois plans to achieve full autonomy in low-carbon energy by 2050.

For this reason, promoting soft mobility is a priority for the conurbation, which has rolled out a wildly successful e-bike sharing scheme. On the sporting front, locals support the legendary football club AJ Auxerre, which plays its home matches at the Abbé Deschamps Stadium. The venue, made famous by the exploits of the team during the tenure of Guy Roux, will host the start of the stage.

From there, the riders will cross the Auxerrois municipalities of Vaux, Jussy and Vallan, feasting their eyes on the vineyards and vine-decked hillsides before reaching Place de l'Arquebuse in downtown Auxerre.