Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Tour de France puts France on the map

I'm not a great fan of the Daily Mail but they ran a terrific article about the Tour de France this week.

You can read it here and in it they say:

"The Tour is more than just a race. It is a showcase for what may – and feel free to disagree on this point – well be Europe's most beautiful country. Certainly, France is a place of endless geographical diversity – from the sun-bathed sands of its south shore to the snow-clad peaks of its two major mountain ranges, via a chorus line of cosmopolitan cities that all come armed with epic slabs of history and decadently tempting culinary options.

And the Tour does an able job of showcasing the whole package. I defy anyone to watch some of the astonishing footage that the French broadcasters conjure onto our television screens – the star contenders for the title snaking up a steep Alpine pass, the magnitude of their task underlined by helicopter shots that capture their progress from high above; the peloton powering through fields heavy and golden with corn as horses canter happily alongside – and not feel an urge to grab their passport and immediately leap the Channel".

Six of us spent a terrific day at the stage going into Brive.  The local mairie had set aside an area with do it yourself barbecues - the local butcher was on hand to supply the entrecote, the boulanger had baked fresh bread and the other market traders were there selling cheese, wine, fruit & veg.

We sat munching our food and breaking off chunks of bread while washing it down with a local red before diving around like lunatics at the goodies thrown out by the "caravan".

The cyclists flew up the hill we had carefully chosen and we just had time to get back to the town to huddle around a radio and cheer on Mark Cavendish in the sprint finish.

It's a truly unique experience and, as the Daily Mail says, the winner of the great race is France itself!

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