We have had a brilliant time recently the Tour de France. We took in the riders on the Aigurande to Super-Besse stage who passed just a couple of kilometres from our home at Notaires.
We woke up to rain, which was a blow. We wanted the rain, we’ve been praying for it – but not Tour de France day! However, it dried up shortly before we set off at just after 10 am to claim our spot for watching the spectacle, after a quick face painting session.
We had to get off our bikes at the junction of the D2 and D97. At first the gendarme there didn’t seem to want to let us get past at all, but we told him firmly we would walk our bikes along the road. He wasn’t happy but he let us past. As soon as we were out of sight, we hopped on again and zoomed down to a good viewing point.
First past was one of the official merchandise vans. I invested €20 in one of the kits. I’ll be amazed if the Tour de France ever comes so close to us again, so it was a celebration. My favourite item was the tee-shirt.
Cars and motorbikes, mainly gendarmes who all looked rather smug, roared past at intervals. Then came the caravan. This is brilliant! Everyone shouts and cheers and waves, and then jumps nimbly out of the way as the freebies come flying.
Ruadhri was thrilled to see the Smurf lorry, dishing out Smurf sweets!
The caravan took about half an hour to go by, and then came the waiting time. However, it wasn’t boring. In just ten minutes, 80 cars and 3 motorbikes went by. What most of these vehicles are actually contributing to the Tour I have no idea. I think a lot of people in them are there on a corporate junket. But they’re friendly and wave as they go by, so it’s fun. (However, I think it’s this huge quantity of apparently unnecessary cars that is behind the dreadful accident when Hoogerland was knocked off.)
A wave of more smirking gendarme motorcyclists, and then, about ten minutes ahead of schedule, the cyclists arrive. First came the breakaway group of nine riders. A couple of minutes later the peloton zoomed by. I only managed to get one photo as they passed, it was that quick. I’ve got Geraint Thomas in this shot.
The last cyclist went by and then some more team cars and finally the broom wagon. And it was all over.
It’s a breathless spectacle, very exciting, but over way too fast. However, we had a ball and came home with all our goodies, apart from the ones we’d eaten at the time (mini-sausages, savoury nibbles and madeleines, all delicious). Here’s about half our haul.
Caitlin is going to try and get a job with the caravan next year. It would be a great way to spend three weeks of her summer. I’ve suggested she becomes one of the Cochonou mini-sausage-distributers. She could accidentally drop her sackful as she goes past us, because we’ll be there somewhere along the route I hope!