Évian Thonon Gaillard FC
Winning Ligue 2 completed the Savoie team's meteoric rise from fourth to top tier in the space of four years. Formed on 1 July 2007 with the merger of Football Croix de Savoie 74 and Olympique Thonon-Chablais, the club were called Olympique Croix de Savoie 74 until the end of 2008/09. Sponsors then suggested the name should represent the towns of Evian, Thonon and Gaillard, all located on the French side of Lake Geneva. To make things more confusing, the team play in Annecy, although top shareholders like Zinédine Zidane and Bixente Lizarazu are helping devise a new purpose-built home for the side led by Bernard Casoni, Ligue 2's coach of the 2010/11 campaign.
The island of Corsica will have a top-flight representative for the first time since 2006 after Ajaccio finished second in Ligue 2. "A fabulous result," was how Bastia-born coach Olivier Pantaloni described it. "We did not expect to achieve so much." The club's €8m budget made them one of the most financially lean contenders in Ligue 2 last term and since promotion they have lost leading striker Jean-François Rivière, while bringing in Frédéric Sammaritano from AJ Auxerre and Mexico goalkeeper Francisco Guillermo Ochoa. ACA's best season brought a sixth-placed finish in Ligue 1 in 1971, though they have a way to go to match local rivals SC Bastia's achievement of reaching the 1978 UEFA Cup final.
Dijon will be making their debut among the French elite after snatching third position in the second division on the final day of last season. Dijon Football Côte d'Or were founded in 1998, following the demise of Cercle Laïque Dijonnais, and have been on the up ever since. Rudi Garcia, who has just led LOSC Lille Métropole to the French title, coached the club from 2003 to 2007, with his side beating the likes of AS Saint-Étienne and RC Lens en route to the French Cup semi-finals of 2004. Now the capital of the Burgundy region, famous worldwide for its mustard, will be spicing things up in Ligue 1.
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