Today is Bastille Day — or La Fête Nationale, if you will. Since the morning was nice and sunny, my wife and I headed out for a bike ride to Castelnaud, having decorated the front of the house with several French flags, both large and small. In keeping with the spirit of things, I was even wearing my La Française des Jeux team jersey. Unfortunately when we returned, one of the larger flags was missing. Drat.
But enough of that. Time for the last of my three-part series on our visit this past Tuesday to Figeac, for Stage 10 of the Tour de France. Some impressions and photos:
Cars, cars, cars. If you weren’t positive that the Tour de France was a bicycle race, you might think you’d stumbled upon a car rally. There were cars before the cyclists came by, cars amidst the cyclists, and cars after the cyclists. I lost track of what they were all doing there, but we did see media cars and this Public Safety vehicle:
Skoda, Skoda, Skoda. And speaking of cars, Skoda is an Official Partner of the Tour, and I suspect that the Skoda assembly plant was operating at full capacity just to crank out enough cars for this year’s Tour. (By the way, the cars themselves are now looking pretty good, and some models are nicely equipped — I’ve driven one as a rental. They seem to have overcome their previous reputation as the Ladas of Western Europe.)
Motorcycles galore. I’d say the Tour has more cars than motorcycles, but not by much. Motorcycles kept flying past us — bearing camera men, police officers, and others. Sometimes they stopped, like this two-man camera crew:
Crowd pleasers. Having an exciting bicycle race isn’t enough. You also want lots of noise and plenty of flash and trash. So the Tour has trucks like this one, with blaring loudspeakers and young women selling souvenir bags:
The loot bags. And here’s one of the young women now, offering to sell the yellow bags full of souvenirs for 20 euros. Cycling fans will recognize that the bags are designed to look like the musettes that carry high-energy food items to the racers; the cyclists grab a musette at the feed zones along the route, take what they want, and fling the rest away.
Look at the loot! Naturally, I had to buy one of the musettes. And when we got home, this is how it all looked — including the Tour tee shirt, the Tour pen, the Tour key chain with stuffed bear, the Tour hat, the Tour bracelets, the Tour pack of cards, the Tour sweat band, and the Tour scarf. See what 20 euros can buy!
Final thought. The big questions are : Was it worth the effort and would we do it again? Yes it was, and yes we would. It’s an exciting event, the crowds are positive and enthusiastic (we didn’t come across any drunken louts, like some of the idiots you see along the mountain routes), and finding a good view seems fairly easy. I’m already looking forward to the 2012 Tour, to see what stretch of the route is closest to the Greater Daglan Area.