Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Tour de Force

    Someone told us that the last time the Tour de France passed through Léran was a hundred years ago in 1910 so I'm glad we were around to see it last Sunday. Signs had been up for days telling drivers which roads would be closed at what hours so anyone who wanted a streetside seat (we all brought our own) was settled in well before the cyclists showed up.
    The other reason for getting there early are the cadeaux--gifts that tour sponsors throw to the crowd. 
     Settled in on a corner, we were theoretically in a prime position to catch, grab, pick up or otherwise get our hands on the key-rings, bottles of chilled water, T-shirts, hats and other paraphernalia that came our way. 
    As you can see, the voitures are pretty damned impressive. It's not often you see a gargantuan four-pack of Panach´ (a low-alcohol shandy-like drink). Or a huge rubber duck. Or a trio of racehorses coming your way. Some of the sponsors made less of an effort, content to ride in an official car in air-conditioned comfort.
    Helicoptors hovered, motorbikes roared past, camera operators on the pillion... There we were, sizzling in the sun, part of what some French dignitary said recently is the world's largest sports event--and totally free to watch.
    Lunch in a friend's garden, and then back we went to wait for the riders.         Whizz, whizz. Gone. And soon, so were we, over to the café to watch the rest of the tour on TV.

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