Yeah back to France

We were so lucky to be able to arrange our trip to see our friend in France again. His holiday home is in a sleepy little village in Francescas in the south-west of France. It’s a rural farming area with the most beautiful sunflower fields…20140728-124754-46074029.jpg

We did a couple of rides; my favourite being to this restaurant for lunch…

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This year we also went visiting some beautiful villages that we hadn’t previously got to…

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We also saw some funny things…pizza from a whole in the wall? Macaroon undies?…

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Now to share a real excitement, we got to see a stage of the Tour de France again. I don’t know how I didn’t get the places right but on Friday they were going directly through our friend’s town! We were so thrilled. Of course we’d been watching online and keeping up but I thought we’d miss it. It was a rainy day but still fun to catch. It was dry for the Caravan coming through, then chucked it down with rain then let up for the riders zooming through. They were protecting their leaders and riding in teams at this point. Got a great view of the yellow jersey…

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Goodbye France I will miss you for now!…

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Paris Stage 21

What a day! Not sure where to start…

John and I got up early yesterday in Le Mans and took an hour train ride into Paris for the final stage of the Tour de France. (I’m glad the new royal baby didn’t over shadow yesterday’s events lol! Congrats Kate and Will! Closer to my Aunt Nora’s birthday I believe than mine so no money coming my way!) It was a gorgeous day to be in Paris, much better than when we went in February brrrrr. It was an evening finish this year so we had lots of time to walk around and eat macaroons by the Seine, too yum…

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We also spent some time in Jardin du Luxembourg. It was lovely with so many people out and about. The little lake in front was adorable with children playing with the sailboats that you could rent for 2 euros, just John’s thing…

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There was even a Highschool orchestra playing in the gazebo…lovely…

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Outside the garden gates L’Equipe newspaper had put up a whole set of stunning blown up photos of past Tour stages, it was fabulous…

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Then off to the race. We headed for the the Place de Concorde just before the bend to the Champs Élysées. It was shady there and a wall to sit and stand on, so perfect! You have to walk by the Louvre of course first…

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We also just had to get our photo at Norway corner…

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We were a tad too early but we did get a good spot. There is always something to see as the caravan comes in before the race. We each snagged a green PMU sprint jersey shirt too that they were giving out free to the crowd so that was cool. The atmosphere was electric. We tried to get as many pictures as we could but once the race started it’s hard to get good ones as they whiz past!…

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As you can see Team Sky lead the way for the first lap with their leader and winner Christopher Froome…

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Overall it was so great to see them go around so many times. It’s definitely worth the effort of getting there. I’m totally gutted that Mark Cavendish didn’t win the sprint finish but at least I did pick him out of the pack. You really have to look as they do go by amazingly fast. I also picked out some of my other favourite riders…Andy Schleck, Cadel Evans, Alberto Contador and the new best young rider from Columbia! It’s fun to catch a glimpse in person.

It was a late night when we got back to our hotel in Paris near the train station (by the way if you are looking for a decently priced and standard/modern/clean/know what you are going to get hotel in Europe try a Mercure. We’ve stayed at a few now in different cities and they have always been totally modern and fine for a couple of nights). This morning we got up at 6 to get our train back to Le Mans at 7. Tired now!

We had a full day today going to the Canadian Juno Beach centre (I’ll write about that soon) and tomorrow we are off to Jersey to cuddle Lady Fia and see her mummy’s home. Can’t wait.

Vive Le Tour 2013

Yeah! It’s the first day of the Tour de France. To me that means school is over and three weeks of sports viewing will begin. It’s also the 100th anniversary of this event, AMAZING! I absolutely love watching the tour. I love the commentary and seeing the French countryside. It also inspires me to get out on my bike more too, many will know I fancy myself a tour rider!

It might actually force me to get some knitting done amidst my latest sewing frenzy…

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I’ve been working on these countess mitts as a present. See here for a post I have previously done on the pattern and the pair mom knit for me.

Last year John and I were on holiday in France in the summer and were able to see the Tour go through the town of Auch. This year it works out that we will be there again at the time of the final stage. I’m very excited to think that we are going to be on the Champs-Élysées for the final stage on the 100th year. An iconic sporting finish, I can’t wait!

Vive le Tour de France

Years ago I lived in Ottawa and fell in love with how they closed some of the roads on a Sunday in the summer to allow cyclist etc. to use them freely. I saw many “pro-looking” Québécois cyclists take to the road and thought with my bad knees from running that that was the sport for me. I loved the idea of going fast and farther on the roads than a traditional mountain bike would allow. Unfortunately, I quickly learned that a good bike was the price of a small car so instead got more road like tires for my little red Gary Fischer mountain bike. Not the same! But I wasn’t to fear because years later while working at my first school in Cambridge I met a cycling enthusiast teacher friend named Kari who helped to fuel my old inspirations. She helped me to learn about the components of a road bike and what to look for when purchasing. I believe it was after one of John’s bonuses that I worked my magic and was able to convince him to buy us both bikes at a good entry level to the sport. (Soon enough he was into it as much or more than me and began riding to work!) We began watching the Tour de France on t.v. and got right into it. It is extremely exciting and you quickly pick a favourite to root for. You also get to see and learn a lot about the French countryside from the helicopter coverage. The long time commentators Paul Sherwen and Phill Liggett are wonderful to listen to and make any new comer to the sport feel welcomed and quickly knowledgable. It’s still on so give one stage a go! When I knew we were moving to the U.K. I immediately thought great, now we can go and watch the Tour. John added it to the long list of things I had already said I wanted to see, lol! My birthday is tomorrow and my present was to make sure we saw the Tour pass by. We went yesterday and it was better than expected. It was a quick pass by but we went to a lovely town called Auch were there was lots of Tour atmosphere. It was a comfortable and relaxed atmosphere which I wasn’t expecting. At what other sporting event can you A) get in free and B) sit at a cafe in the sunshine and drink coffee while waiting for it to pass!…

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We did walk and find a nice stone wall to sit and watch from, just above street level. In our magazine it said that the “caravan” would come through at 1:00. We weren’t sure what to expect. It turned out to be a wonderful parade from all the sponsors who were all throwing out free stuff. I got a little polka dot jersey key chain!…

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Here are some parade pictures…

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Then it all got really exciting because the red car came through which is the official car at the front of the race and the t.v. helicopters came right over head…

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The small break away came through first…

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And then the main peloton came through. They were quite stretched out in a line but I imagine going through a town can be dangerous and it looked safer on the narrow roads lined with fans to space out a bit! Below are a few of the shots of the riders, of course not as large as life as on t.v. but still amazing to see such incredible athletes. Take a close look at the picture with the rider in the yellow jersey. That is the leader of the race in the maillot jeune, British rider Bradley Wiggens. They went by so fast that I didn’t see last year’s winner Cadel Evans or my favourite sprinter Brit, Mark Cavendish but I think John did. (My favourite rider Andy Schleck is out with injury and didn’t start the race. The Canadian, Ryder Hesjedal got injured in the first few days of the race and had to abandon, boo.)…

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IT WAS SOOOOOOOO EXCITING!!!!!

After they passed by that was it and we walked around this beautiful town a bit. It truly felt and looked how I imagine France in my head!…

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After we drove back towards Roland’s house and stopped for a coffee in the lovely town of Condom, yes have a wee giggle! Apparently, Dartagnan, one of the 3 musketeers, came from this area so there was a modern statue installation, a bit tacky Roland thought but I loved it!…

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The statues are at the foot of a famous church. There is a pilgrimage route in this area of France and we saw many walkers at this church as one of their stops. They all had shells hanging off their bags for some reason?…

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A full day! Off for a bike ride and lunch now!