Tuesday, January 26, 2010

May 31, 2009 - Gap, France

In 14 BCE, Augustus, the Emperor of Rome, seized the town that is now Gap from the Gauls, who originally founded the place. In turn, the French Crown annexed the city in 1512 CE and it has been part of France ever since.
2400 feet up in the Alpine hills, Gap has a population of around 36,000 and sits at the crossroads of the D994 and the N85. The city has applied to host the 2018 Winter Olympic Games.

A digression...The N85 is known locally as Route Napoleon from the time that Napoleon I traversed the path as an escaped exile in 1815. In 1814, Napoleon Bonaparte was banished by the Sixth Coalition to house arrest on the island of Elba off the Tuscany coast of Italy, close to his birthplace, Corsica.
Early the following year he made good his escape back to mainland France and embarked on his final odyssey to Waterloo in Belgium. Accounts vary as to the size of the entourage he gathered - somewhere between 50 and 1000 men it seems - but the little fellow and his gang covered 200 odd miles of rugged terrain in just one week to arrive in Gap on March 15, 1815. Here, he printed and distributed thousands of copies of his Proclamation before traveling on to his ultimate defeat at Waterloo in June of the same year. An historical highlight for Gap at the time and the establishment of a popular tourist route along one of the most spectacular lesser highways in France.

Elsewhere in Gap is the Roman Catholic cathedral - Cathédrale Notre-Dame-et-Saint-Arnoux de Gap - a national monument of France. The current cathedral was built between 1866 and 1904 in Neo-Gothic style by architect Charles Laisné on the site of a former medieval cathedral. See here for more pictures.

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