Thursday 16 July 2009

Le Tour

The Herault is blessed with the presence of the Tour de France more than most departments of France, passing through more years than not. Seeing it live had been an objective for years, despite all the first hand advice that after hours of waiting it's all over in a flash. Our first view was actually "Le Grand Depart" from London in 2007, a great festive weekend with Languedoc like weather to match; but rural France when the race comes to you it wasn't.

This YouTube video was taken by a neighbour the same year at Canet, 6 Km along the Herault valley from Aspiran. The cyclists are in a single bunch, called Le Peloton, and pass by in just 20 seconds.

I took these shots in 2008 on the climb out of Neffies. One idea behind choosing this location was that being uphill the riders would pass by more slowly, but these things are relative and they still whizzed by.

There is more to it. As well as a great day out party atmosphere there's entertainment from the "caravan" that passes a couple of hours before the race. This stream of advertising floats throw out all sorts of gifts of varying usefulness. What also amazes is the vast number of accompanying support cars, motorbikes and vans that sandwich the riders - not to mention the helicopters.

Will Le Tour pass by next year? We'll have to wait until next May to find out.