Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Tour de France

Somethings are quintessentially French! I count among these the Tour de France! Even if you are not interested in cycling the Tour de France is simply so much more than a bike road race! For years we have watched the Tour on TV in England and imagine our delight when we found out that a stage of the Tour was leaving from Macon, our nearest sizable town 40 minutes from our home! Yesterday we went into Macon late in the afternoon to see all the razzmatazz that surrounds the Tour. We had a wander around and purchased some lovely wine glasses inscribed for the occasion and were given vouchers for free wine tastings - not a great idea when you have to drive home again! Frogs' legs were for sale (and no, we didn't!) and there was a real buzz amongst the crowds of people who were milling about!

Shops and buildings were decorated for the occasion which is an honour for those places chosen to be part of the route.

After a wander round we came home and prepared for today - the day the tour was leaving Macon and we had promised to meet our dear friend Ashley in Cluny at 8am. We prepared the ingredients for our picnic and went off to bed.
This morning we were up and off via the depot du pain where we picked up a "flute" loaf of bread and met Ashley. We had researched the route carefully as we had been told that although there is a lot of excitement at the start of the race it was probably better to get away from the start and park the car along the route as we would get a better view.
The riders and their entourage are preceded by the caravan - a series of cars - and I use that term loosely - that pass by throwing free advertising paraphernalia at those lining the route. There is a scramble for them and we were fortunate to get quite a collection.
Here's a couple of examples of the vehicles that passed by us:

The caravan took almost half an hour to pass by Phew I have sympathy with Her Majesty now!
We were thrilled that Bradley Wiggins is currently in the yellow jersey signifying that he is the overall leader so we took our Union flag with us and attached it to a road sign so it was prominent.
It proved a good idea as when the Sky team cars went by (with British number plates) we were given great waves and loud hoots!
Ashley, Joe and I really enjoyed watching all the pre race stuff and the time went by really quickly.
BUT, what we really wanted to see were the riders themselves...that is what we were really there for and I had warned the men that I would be shouting for Bradley at the top of my voice!
And here they come!

The trouble is that they pass so fast and trying to photograph them and shout at the same time proved I could not multitask!
And there they go!

Following the cyclists the cars with all the spare cycles came!

And finally...
gendarmes on motor bikes signalled that the Tour had passed by and the road was now open.

And so it was all over, but what an experience to have in our first few months living here in France! Long live the tour and the best of luck to Bradley Wiggins!!!

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