Today (Friday) the riders start from Belfort
whose city arms predictably feature a tower, in this case with the letters BF
to distinguish it from all the other civic arms with towers and castles. The terrace/base contains the Légion d'Honneur. I have yet to be able to confirm that this was awarded for the city's long resistance to the Germans in the Franco-Prussian War 1870/71, though this does seem likely.
The Territoire de Belfort
is a now a Département and has different arms:
Humiliatingly defeated in the Franco-Prussian War, the French attempted to salvage their military honour by clinging to the memory of their few successes. Belfort's defence, led by Colonel Pierre Philippe Denfert-Rochereau, commanding 3,500 soldiers and 10,000 or so volunteers, resisted a 103 day siege by 40,000 men of the German (Baden) XIV Corps under General Graf von Werder. So successful was the defence that it ended only following a direct order from Paris, several days after France had capitulated. While the rest of Alsace became German, the area around Belfort was allowed to remain French, which enabled the French Government of National Defence to claim that France was still able to negotiate diplomatically though defeated militarily.
From Belfort the route takes a south-westerly line, parallel to the Swiss border and the Jura mountains, eventually coming to Chalon-sur-Saone
, birthplace of Joseph Nicéphore Niépce (1765-1833), father of photography and inventor of the first internal combustion engine.
The arms of the city are classic:
though sometimes rendered with a terrace/base containing the Légion d'Honneur awarded by Napoleon in honour of the city's resistance to an Austrian army in 1814: