The Tour de France

Normally Pat and I spend all day on Fridays at A Coeur Ouvert, but the arrival of the Tour de France meant that public transport was severely disrupted again.Essentially the trams that run between our flat and the café were to be out of action. Perfectly reasonable since they run directly along the route the cyclists were to take. High-level discussions ensued and eventually the decision was taken to close the café for the day of the tour.

Thus it was that Pat and I were able to take ourselves down to the "fan zone" just before lunchtime to inspect the city's preparations for the tour. We saw people queuing to play the supermarket LeClerc's wheel of fortune to win a t-shirt or a cap. A lady from the buralistes (tobacconists) allied with the sapeurs-pompiers (firemen) came and gave us each a pocket ashtray - they're distributing them in a campaign to prevent forest fires. We took a quiz about cycling in the city and were rewarded with a reflective tag for your bag. A policewoman gave us each a little fan that says "Vous êtes fait pour être policier". I'm not convinced, but the fans were useful as the city headed for 34°C. I watched, stupefied, as two men tried to lead a crowd in some energetic dance, one of them dressed as a cartoon character. Whatever he's paid, it's not enough. Another stand afforded this interesting photograph. 

For lunch we headed to a recently opened self-service Italian place - you order at the counter, collect a buzzer, then when your food is ready you go collect it from the kitchen.It's decent, low-cost and air-conditioned.

We decided to head back home along the route of the tour. We didn't see much point in waiting for the caravan publicitaire to pass and throw out ... t-shirts, caps, washing powder, salamis and little packs of crackers and gummy sweets, or to wait for the five minutes it would take for the cyclists to whizz past.

And so it was that we met up with an Australian couple installed by the side of the road. Two hours, several group selfies, four caps, two t-shirts, a bicycle-shaped bottle-opener and a five-minute whizz later we bid a fond farewell to our new friends from Australia, Germany, Czech Republic and Slovakia and slowly made our way to the nearest tram stop.


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