This post is dedicated to my best friend, Jess, who loves the Tour de France and introduced me to it all those many, many years ago at Carolina. Sadly, I still don't understand how this race even works, and B has now taken up instructing me where you left off. I wish you could have been with us to see this. Love you!
One of the reasons that B and I work so well together is that we share a lot of similar interests. Sports is not one of them. He likes watching all sporting events. Me? Unless it's Carolina basketball, not so much. But since we're in Europe, we kind of had to do a few things.
In terms of French sporting events, we've already done the marathon. On Bastille Day, it was time to see the sprint: Le Tour de France. Although since B assured me this would be extremely quick and we wouldn't have to sleep in our car, I was a little more enthused about this sporting venture.
Unfortunately the Tour did not come through the Loire Valley this year, so we didn't get to see it at "home." But it happened to be near Spain on Bastille Day, right when we were leaving San Sebastian. Perfect. Although we could have gone to either the start or end point of this leg, we decided against that due to traffic and general chaos in the bigger cities. Instead, B mapped the route and we found the tiny, tiny, tiny town of Artix.
We began by grabbing a cup of coffee at the local bar and setting up camp in a shady spot on the left side of the bar's building. B was glad because it was after a curve so the bikers would be going marginally slower. I was excited because it was in the shade.
Those of you who are more familiar with how the race works than I am probably know that about two hours before the bikers come through, the parade comes through: a ton of promotional cars who sponsor the race and throw goodies at people. Seriously. It was actually more entertaining than the bikers, to be fair. People on the cars/vans/trucks/vehicles danced, sprayed people with water, tossed swag, and generally made it into one big party. Below are some of our favorites, along with our haul (the gummy candy was my favorite!).
Once the "parade" came through, we had at least an hour to wait until the bikers would show up. B took the camera and wandered around, and I killed time the best way I know how, and the way I've been doing since the late 1980s: with a book.
Finally, show up they did. We could sort of tell when it would happen because all 7 of the helicopters that were following them got closer and closer, so we knew to be ready. It was the fastest thing I've ever seen: something like 30 seconds, and whoosh, they were gone. I had the camera on multiple shot button and just held it down. These were the pics that turned out the best. My favorites were the guys in turquoise because their jerseys were the prettiest. All in all, it was basically a whirlwind, but I'm so glad we got to be able to see it in person. One more check on the Life in France bucket list!
E & B