February 18, 2010

RAISON D'ÊTRE

In July 2008 we spent a fortnight in our little cottage in Le Grand-Pressigny. As it turned out, those two weeks started well, continued superbly and ended in a magnificent finale. We had fabulous weather, too. This was everything we had hoped for when we bought our holiday home.

On Thursday 9th July the Tour de France came through the village - stage 5, Cholet to Châteauroux. This only happens about every 10 years so we were thrilled to be able to see it and join in the fun.




What a day !! We walked down to the village square about 11.30 am to find the whole place buzzing. Paper cutouts of little t-shirts in all the colours of the teams had been strung as bunting from trees and lamposts. All our friends were already in position outside the PreHisto, enjoying the sunshine. Tables and chairs had been bagged early and there was barely a space left on the pavement from where we could get a view of the race. We found a place on the other side of the road and took it in turns to nip across to buy a drink or mingle with our friends, afraid of losing our excellent position, even though the competitors were not expected for two hours yet !!


The first sign of action was the arrival of a couple of police motorcyclists. The crowd cheered. Then the caravan started to come through. I had never seen anything quite like this in my life. It was an amazing spectacle and absolutely brilliant fun. For almost two hours one float after another came along Grande Rue (the wrong way) and threw sweets and gifts to the children as they went by.



After a short lull the next pair of police bikes indicated that the peloton was coming. At that point the windows opened in the Mairie above the Tourist Office and the Maire and his staff leaned out and waved and cheered along with everyone else. A press photographer was busy at an open second-floor window below the PreHisto and a helicopter circled above.

It was over in a flash !! It had taken two hours for the caravan to pass through and the peloton was gone in seconds. Or so it seemed anyway.



Of course, that was not it for the day. The TV coverage is slightly behind the actual race so people then piled into the PreHisto to watch the proceedings on the TV. There was much oohing and aahing at the sight of the château on the screen, and cheering at the cyclists. Then the street party lingered on, there was much debriefing to be done, with the aid of liquid refreshment and sandwiches from the PreHisto and the Jean Bart. As the afternoon wore on, people gradually drifted back home, the crowd that had turned up for the day disappeared and the village returned to normal.


We wandered up the hill to our little maison and settled on our terrace overlooking the rooftops of the village. As we sat enjoying the evening sunshine, we commented that the peace and quiet was amazing considering we are right in the middle of the village. We talked about the events of the day and could hardly believe our luck that we had found this place.

11 comments:

  1. Smashing day. I hope there was a bottle open in the kitchen so that you could top up those empty glasses ;-)

    Mad x

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  2. Oh Jean, why didn't Mr FF and I make the effort to watch it fly past us about four years ago now. Because we were lazy and apathetic and it was hot. Your photos make me wish we had bothered though.

    Your terrace looks gorgeous

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  3. Mad - how did you guess ?!

    FF - I wouldn't have missed it for the world, but then it was literally on our doorstep so no great effort was required.

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  4. Hi Jean
    I loved it when last years Tour de France passed through Plumalec, our local town. I wasn't there but loved the TV coverage and seeing the place from above.

    The cyclists have some pretty huge gatherings and quite often the town will be cordoned off to accommodate them. Brilliant atmosphere as they race through the place.

    Yes, your terrace looks very inviting.

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  5. Jean reading today's post, you make miss summers in France.

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  6. Jean. Have caught the Tour twice. The first time on the Alpe d'Huez in 1986 when Greg lemond and Bernard Hinault rode up together.

    Second time was in Touraine during 1992 in the Big Mig era when the Tour came up the road from Genillé to Le Liege. The stage finished in Tours with the sprint won by Thierry Marie.

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  7. Jean,
    Now how could you do this blog without a comment from me, a passionate cyclist from the age of 12.
    I know this might sound like name-dropping, well, yes it is.....
    Phil Liggett, the Murray Walker of cycling comes to Australia annually. I've had the opportunity to ride with the great cycling commentator as he is a patron of our little group.
    Jim - while spending a whole summer racing in California I actually raced with Lemond - well to be truthful it was Bob, his father & a great rider who was then in his early 40s - LOL.
    How lucky are we for these experiences???
    The Tour is telecast live in Australia and there is a whole month of early mornings and low productivity from the Aussie working cyclist here.
    Thanks for a great blog Jean

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  8. And you've made me miss summer in France, too! ;)

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  9. Ken, Nadege, Jim, Leon, Walt - it was a great day and I we had a fantastic time. Even Mme André said she enjoyed it !

    And yes, it makes me yearn for summer too. Especially as we have snow again today with the threat of "heavy snowfalls" next week, just as I return to work. Ugh.

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  10. Jean and all of you who like cycling! You should come and live in Belgium or get Belgian VRT (EEN) on your TV. Almost every day and certainly every weekend we get extensive coverage of cycling races from all over the world. Sorry to say so, but in the end it gets boring and only the 'hard core' can sit through another race, while everybody else is longing to see a good film om TV (for a change).

    But ... it seemed like a fun day there in LGP, and I wish I could have been there with you ... just for the 'ambiance' :)

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  11. Martine - maybe next time the TDF comes through LGP I will reserve you and your friend a place on the pavement with us. We had a wonderful time and you would love it.

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