Tour de France 2016

Cycles decorating our village

Cycles decorating our village

The Tour de France passed through our village for the first time yesterday, which has inspired great excitement during the build-up. All of the roads along the route have been resurfaced and relined, the verges have been cut and the village progressively decorated. People donated unwanted bicycles, which lined the hill up into the village.

I enjoy cycling, but I have never been to watch the Tour de France. Yesterday, I had no excuse, especially as it passed only 2 km from our door. We were blessed with good weather, fortunately. Last week, Météo France was predicting thunder storms, but they failed to materialise.

Yesterday’s race was Stage 6, which started from Le Lioran in Cantal. This stage was described as ‘flat’. Well, if you’re super-fit, I suppose it was, but looking at the terrain on the internet it seemed pretty hilly to me.

Local roads closed

Local roads closed

We were told that thousands were expected in our village to watch the race and that the surrounding roads would be closed from 10h00, so we decided not to go there. Instead, we tracked the progress of the race on the internet and then went up to the hamlet of Félines, just off the main road, to watch.

A group of neighbours was sitting in the shade, watched over by a bored-looking gendarme.

“You missed the caravan,” a neighbour said to me. The caravan is the convoy of sponsors that passes a couple of hours before the cyclists, throwing out products such as hats bearing their brand name. I wasn’t heartbroken to miss it, especially as we would then have had to wait ages for the race to come past.

The leaders were supposed to arrive around 15h45. The sound of distant helicopters grew louder and then around the bend came a couple of police motorcycles, blue lights flashing. The neighbours’ children jumped up and down and cheered, but it was one of several false alarms.

Motorcade surrounding the leaders

Motorcade surrounding the leaders

Finally, half an hour behind schedule, the motorcade encircling the two leaders rounded the bend. They go like the clappers, so you don’t get much time to get a shot. The leader is decapitated in mine, below. Once on holiday in Normandy years ago, I took what I thought was a good snap of a cycle race. When I received the developed films, all they showed was an empty stretch of road. They had already gone past.

The leaders

The leaders

Yesterday, I got better shots of the peloton (the pack), which arrived a few minutes later. They are so closely crammed together that it’s hard to imagine how they can manoeuvre at all. Once in the middle, I imagine you are stuck there for the rest of the race.

Le peloton rounding the bend

Le peloton rounding the bend

Le peloton approaching our vantage point

Le peloton approaching our vantage point

Shortly afterwards, a van came past bearing the sign “Fin de course.”

As a spectator sport, the Tour de France is not particularly satisfying, since it’s all over so quickly. It’s probably better to watch it on TV. But you can’t beat the ambiance that reigns when you see it live.

You might also like some posts about places along the Stage 6 route:

Villefranche-de-Rouergue: Past Glories
The Secret of Le Château de la Reine Margot
Five Curiosities in Caylus
Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val: Haunting and Historic Town

This post is taking part in the #AllAboutFrance linky, where you can find plenty of other fascinating posts about France.

AllAboutFranceBadge

Copyright © 2016 Life on La Lune, all rights reserved

 

Advertisements

About nessafrance

My husband and I moved to an 18th-century farmhouse in SW France in 1997. I am fascinated by French history, rural traditions and customs and enjoy seeking out the reality behind the myths. I run my own copywriting business and write short stories and the occasional novel in my spare time. My husband appears here as the SF, which stands for Statistics Freak, owing to his penchant for recording numbers about everything.
This entry was posted in French life and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to Tour de France 2016

  1. The TDF has been through my village twice in the last few years and both times it’s been a fun spectacle. It’s true there’s a lot of hanging around for a very quick bit of action but there’s something so iconic about it that it’s worth the wait. Thanks for linking up with #AllAboutFrance

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Liene K says:

    We managed to catch the Tour once during our time in France, and like you said, it was over in a flash! However we did make it in time for the caravan, and the boys were over the moon with their new cycling gear. Visiting via #AllAbout France

    Liked by 1 person

    • nessafrance says:

      It is fun, isn’t it? And children especially love the goodies that the caravan throws out. Personally, I can take those or leave them – and had we watched for the caravan we would have had to stay another 2 hours before the race itself came past. A special event, nonetheless.

      Like

  3. Wow! Such a lovely for you 😉

    Sabrina 🐝🌻🍉

    Like

  4. It’s coming through my village, Saint-Chinian, on July 13 and it’s going to be great fun! We’ll be having drinks and food with friends along the route, watching the caravan and catching the occasional bits they throw out! But I know what you mean, the cyclists are all gone by in a flash, and you are left wondering what the fuss was all about 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Sally says:

    I would love to see the Tour at least once. I love all the build up for events, and even if it is just a whoosh as they go by, you get to feel like you are a part of something. I saw the old bikes when I was up in Cantal for Fathers Day and wished I could stay for the real thing. Love it that you included the decapitated winning cyclist.

    Liked by 1 person

    • nessafrance says:

      It’s great fun, even if you don’t see a lot in the end. The decapitated cyclist wasn’t one of my better shots. In fact, it’s my husband’s fault since he said there weren’t any cyclists among the first motorcade and when I realised the leaders WERE there, it was almost too late.

      Like

  6. Osyth says:

    When I saw the route I thought it must be coming close to you …. I was very miffed that this year, of all years they routed through Cantal so you have sort of made up for it by proxy. I was a competitive rower when my daughter’s were young – they would tell you that rowing is even worse than cycling as a spectator sport because at least you get a sense of speed when the bikes pass!

    Liked by 1 person

    • nessafrance says:

      I did very much appreciate that they started from Le Lioran and then went down through the Carlades. So, yes, I kind of experienced it by proxy for you!

      I also was a competitive rower at university (in an eight, in which I was stroke). I have never been as fit, before or since. And quite right – that’s not a spectator sport, either…

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Pps van bearing the legend ‘fin de course’ is called the broom wagon and, in cycling folklore, picks up the cyclists who abandon…

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I can imagine it is better on TV, I have watched it many times this way, but never seen it live. But like you, I think I would like to see it at least once live for the pure experience alone.

    Liked by 1 person

    • nessafrance says:

      TV is clearly the best way to see the route, etc, but it’s great to experience the ambience live. I wouldn’t go miles to do it again, but had no excuse this time as they were passing within a couple of km!

      Like

  9. Saw it was your village ‘sur l’etape’ and wondered if you were on the side of the road. I even checked out your piece on the chateau de penne as it looked so good on itv. I am a cycling groupie (my sisters tell me its the lycra!) and glue myself to the tv. The dentist changed today’s appointment when he discovered i was a fan! 🙂 In 2012 the paris nice came through st cere with wiggo in yellow. We were on the side of the road (hills are best, they cycle more slowly!) and i waved my small union jack. Later in the year we camped beside the road at cressensac to cheer for cavendish who took the stage at brive and wiggo who took the race. Great memories. A kiwi friend waving her national flag cleaned up from the caravan because over the various loudspeakers came the cry ‘allez les all blacks’. It is what july is all about!
    Ps love all the old bikes used as decoration
    xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • nessafrance says:

      We weren’t in the village in the end, having been put off by the expected number of people (although this didn’t actually materialise). However, where we were, with some neighbours, was a great spot to see the race. I have to say that I would find it difficult to distinguish any of the cyclists – but I applaud them all for their valiant efforts!

      Like

  10. Jacqui says:

    Ooh, exciting! I love watching it, live and on TV. Paris (for the final) was buzzing last year, despite the rain!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Had a wonderful time with it a few years ago, but this time I’m cronked with a broken leg so stayed at home while hubby and a friend staying with us went to see them coming through Villefranche de Rouergue. Looking at my previous photos, I see they are mostly a blur, so I’m very impressed with yours. Good job! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • nessafrance says:

      Oh, poor you. There’s never a good time to break your leg, but summer must be the most frustrating. The TdF riders go so fast that it’s difficult to get more than a couple of shots. We were in a good place, since they had to come round a corner and then up a rise, which provided photo opportunities. Even so, I didn’t quite manage to get the leader’s head!

      Like

  12. MarinaSofia says:

    We saw them in Annecy a couple of years ago and it was a great atmosphere, although you don’t get to see much of the actual cyclists. Blink! And we missed them.

    Liked by 1 person

I love to hear from my blog's readers, so please feel free to leave a comment.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s