07 July 2011

Watching the Tour go by

Tomorrow, the Tour de France comes through. The "platoon" — le peloton or pack — of cyclists will be riding from Le Mans down through Amboise and Montrichard, and on to Nouans-les Fontaines. It's also passing through the village of Orbigny, which is only about 15 km, or 10 miles, south of Saint-Aignan.

Out in the vineyard with Callie at about 7:00 p.m. yesterday
You can click the picture to see an enlargement, and then click it again if you see
the little magnifying glass with a plus sign in it to get the full-size version.

We have American friends who own a house down there, right on the road that the Tour is riding on. The friends are here, and we're going to their house in the morning, taking the makings for a picnic lunch with us. Greek-style chicken wings, deviled eggs, grated carrot salad — things like that, with bread and wine.

Looking back toward our house

The road will be closed from noon until after the peleton passes by around 4:00, so we'll be "stuck" there for a few hours. Our friends' house is a couple of hundred meters off the road, up a gravel road that is also a public right-of-way. When the times comes, we'll carry our folding chairs down to the paved road and have a front-row seat for the spectacle.

Yesterday I mentioned apples, sauce, and jelly...

That's how we hope it will all work out. I know I've said it's dry, dry, dry here, but wouldn't tomorrow afternoon be just the time when the skies open up? The weather map shows rain over Brittany and Normandy, all the way down to Tours and even Amboise. As usual, Saint-Aignan is right on the line between sun and clouds. So we don't know what it might do.


The other factor that we can't predict has to do with cars and crowds. What if there are so many people along the road that we can't even find a place to unfold our chairs? I'd be surprised, but it's hard to know what the scene will be. Stay tuned.

Callie posing nicely

Yesterday, as you can see from the pictures here, it was cloudy with frequent patches of sunshine. The temperature was in the lower 70s, after getting close to 90ºF the day before. It was breezy. Even if the grass everywhere is parched, you can see that the vineyard is oh-so-green.


  1. Be there a couple of hours earlier than the expected time of the cyclists or you'll miss the Caravan of the Tour sponsors and advertizers. They chuck out small goodies to the crowd.. but only if you give them encouragement to do it.
    It's fun to watch and the Police organization is great. The motor cyclists are normally so very expert.
    Wave a flag and we'll keep an eye out for you.

  2. We did it a couple of years ago in Cognac and enjoyed it.
    I'll be watching for you guys! Oh... great skies in the photos by the way.

  3. Thank you for this story that reminded me of my childhood in France, so many years ago. Le Tour de France is one of the great French family traditions. I remember stopping by small towns all over France, wherever our travels would take us that summer. We would have a picnic on the side of the road, soaking in the sun and all the excitement until finally, the peloton and la caravane arrived, all the way to the very last car, "la Voiture-balai." Everyone's favorite competitor then was "Poupou,", aka Raymond Poulidor. He never won le Tour, not once, but he was beloved by all French people. He is still alive I believe, and as friendly as ever. Saw him on the French news recently. Thank you for the trip down memory lane. Veronique aka French Girl in Seattle

  4. Your photos are wonderful, many thanks. I hope you get a good view. If I was there I would be cheering for the Aussie!

  5. Hey Ken and Walt, wave to us, we will be watching for you and also Carol and Michael from across the river from you who will be there.
    Hope I can stay awake.

  6. Those clouds are fantastic. I love the sharp contrast from white to dark gray.
    Watching the Tour come through is quite an event. Have fun. I don't watch the Tour on TV every day, but when I do I just love the tourism you get from the helicopter. Makes you want to visit or return to some of the places.

  7. From what I've seen of the crowds, you'd better get to your spot early. Either I missed it, or it wasn't on TV today.

  8. Wouldn't it be great if we viewers could see you tomorrow? If you weren't worried about theft, you could put your chairs out a couple of hours early and then return to them when you're ready to settle in. I went to a Masters once and noticed that this was done. It feels a like cheating though.

    DH and I saw a tour once at la Grande Motte, near Montpellier in 1969. We waited a long time for the brief moment of the riders flying by, but it is a great memory still.

    Looking forward to photos of the crowd as well as the tour! Loved hearing your memories, Veronique!

  9. Will this be your first time seeing the Tour in person? Sounds like great fun.

  10. The logo pix of your garden is so beautiful. I am envious!

  11. I have only seen it once when I was a little girl. The riders went by so fast, then the caravans; it only took few minutes then it was over.
    Does anybody in the US know what channel it is on and at what time it starts?

  12. Seeing the TDF go through Le Grand-Pressigny two years ago was brilliant. It took about two hours for the caravan to pass by, then the peleton took about 30 seconds! It was worth being in a good viewing position well in advance - it was great fun and a fantastic spectacle.
    Wish I could be there with you !!

  13. Nadège

    If you have cable TV, you should have the Versus cable channel, formerly Outdoor Life Network.

    Otherwise ESPN may show snippets of it.

  14. John and Candy07 July, 2011 17:10

    Say "Bonjour" to H., A., and the peleton for us...

  15. I was wondering if you were watching the Tour and if you would actually go to see it "live" - so glad that you are! What colors will you be wearing? Let us know so we can spot you more easily!!!

    Great photos as always, Ken!

    Merci beaucoup.

  16. great post....can't wait to hear all about the tour and see the pictures.

    My son is racing in the STP (Seattle to Portland) ride this weekend. Not exactly the same...but lots of training involved....he loves it. He and his childhood friend will be riding together....they've done it for many years.

    Victoria, Bellingham, WA

  17. Harriett's going to be jealous!

    We'll be watching it on TV tomorrow night. Wear something distinctive so we'll be able to find you. Maybe you could post a picture from where you're sitting so we can find it as the peloton passes through town.


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