And there it was…. Gone!

Today, Friday July 25th, a very stormy day in an otherwise beautiful week, saw Stage 19 of the 2014 Tour de France come right past the end of our road. So where best to see it from we thought? Correct, from the end of our road!

(click on any image to see a larger version)

_DSC0490Tremendous excitement as the leading group of five riders arrives, sprinting for Tonneins

_DSC0510A couple of minutes pass. The place is electric with anticipation. And suddenly we can see the main group (le peloton) approaching.
“Il arrive! Regardez! Le peloton arrive!”
Everyone starts going crazy (except for the guy on the left who seems more interested in being captured on TV by the helicopter!)

_DSC0512Le Tour is a national institution to the French  (and quite right too).  But wait! There’s a problem with that flag, isn’t there?
OK, so after a good lunch and a bottle of rosé or two, even the best of us can hold a flag the wrong way round 😉

_DSC0530They start watching it at a very early age. Look at the tiny tot by the gendarme who is waving the orange ‘all bikes turn right’ flag
Oh, and look top left, the guy with the French flag has realised the error of his ways and is now holding it the right way round 🙂

_DSC0583And then, suddenly, it’s ‘wham bam, thank you ma’am’ – almost exactly FIVE minutes later, and it’s all over!

Of course, prior to the riders arriving, there’s a great build up and lots of hullabaloo which stretches the whole thing out  to very much longer than five minutes.

_DSC6190
All the sponsors were giving out freebies by the bucket load. Those people over the road on the left are not waving, they’re begging for whatever is being thrown out of the vehicles!  Packets of washing powder? Beanie hats? Sausages? Hey, who cares what it is?  It’s FREE!!  Gimmee, Gimmee, Gimme!  A female friend of ours was almost tackled to the ground by an 18 stone bloke who ended up with THREE ‘Skoda’ beanie hats!

_DSC6151

_DSC0463

The whole thing, from first appearance of the ‘Caravane’ to the last official vehicle passing, was just about two hours. We had one storm during that time, but we were on the periphery of it and it wasn’t enough to send us scurrying for cover.

A great day spent with friends, and what a fabulous spectacle. Thank you France; we love you  🙂

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4 thoughts on “And there it was…. Gone!

  1. Can’t believe your weather after we had it so gorgeous, still it must have been more exciting as you were getting towards the end.. Nice to see Tonneins, the river and the bridge. Shame about the rain.

  2. We are so jealous!! We had great plans for the Cambridge day and Mick’s mum needed care after a major op! So we have avidly watched on the TV instead. This morning we talked about how great it would have been if we had booked with you this year at this time!!! Great photos – what we expect from such a great photographer, I expect you had a great day. We loved watching ‘your patch’ and sitting with a glass of rose saying ” we have been there…if only..”

    Hope you and Jill are having a good summer …hope to see you soon …

    The lovely Mick and the slightly stroppy Norah xxx

  3. Hi Terry, Norah, Mick,

    Yes, we recorded the afternoon’s events on ITV4 and it was strange to see our ‘forgotten part of France’ being shown on British TV! We were saying inane things like, “that’s the junction at so-and-so” and “Wow, look at all the flags in the Cours de Verdun” And, when we watched the bit where they came past us with the camera on the lead motor-bike, the conversation went like this :

    Me : “Hey, there’s me on my step-ladder!”
    Jill : “Where?”
    ….. rewind
    Me : “There!”
    Jill : “Where?”
    ….. rewind
    Me : “There! Look!”
    Jill : “Where? I can’t see you.”
    ….. rewind…. replay in slow motion
    Me : “There, you can just see my baseball cap and the lens hood sticking out of that plastic bag!”
    Jill : “Where?”
    ….. rewind…. replay in slower motion
    Me: “There!”
    Jill : “No that’s not you.”
    ….. rewind…. replay frame by frame
    Me: “Yes it is, look. See?” (holding my fingernail against a very blurred image on screen)
    Jill : “Oh yeah. Not very good, is it?”

    🙂

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