It used to start from Paris, not anymore, it has been starting from Compiègne since 1977, it covers a distance of more than 250km.
It is called either:
L'enfer du nord ( the hell of the North)
Or: La Pascale, because it is around Easter time, we talk of le week-end pascal ( the Easter weekend)
Or: La reine des classiques ( the queen of the classical races)
The race has 27 sections of cobbles ( des pavés) on a distance of 57 km, one of the most famous sections is at le Carrefour de l'Arbre. These cobbles increase the chances of nasty falls ( des mauvaises chutes ) or punctures ( des crevaisons) which explain why it is called L'enfer du nord.
The last French cyclist ( le dernier cycliste français) to win the race was Frédéric Guesdon in 1997.
This year it has been won by a German, John Degenkolb.
The trophy is a cobble: un pavé
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