Today we had one more day in the Champagne region of France. The beautiful scenery of the vineyards and the French architecture never gets old. Steve rode about 58 miles today with the “fast” group while I took the bus into town to wait for the group and the Tour de France start. The ride was a challenging one, through the hills of the champagne region. One of our group members had a really bad wipe-out, so I was glad to be in the bus.
The Tour de France is like a traveling circus. Each day a new city hosts the departure, which means they must stage the arrival of the teams, their buses, and their cars along with the publicity caravan, the press, and the dignitaries.
Roads are closed and large event venues are assembled each day just to host the departure of the race. Then, along the race route there are sprint zones and feed zones set up by roving crews that are always a step ahead of the peloton for the entire month of July. At the finish each day, usually in a town over 100 miles away from the starting line, the same thing happens in the town that hosts the arrival of the peloton. At each phase there are moving restaurants, souvenir stands, medical tents, and the like.
We’ve been so lucky because we travel in a bus that has VIP access. For each stage we’ve visited, we have been able to drive within a block or two of the race course. As you’ve seen on previous days sometimes that means we have to drive on the actual course, across the finish line, in order to find our parking space. Spectators along the way cheer and wave to us each day as if we are something special.
This afternoon, after the departure of the riders in Epernay, we walked down the Avenue de Champagnes. This is a beautiful, famous street that is home to some of the most prestigious champagne houses in the world. We took the tour at Champagne de Castellana and then tasted the good stuff at the end. Yum! This was the perfect thing to do before our four hour bus ride south to Beaune.
We will spend this evening in Beaune and have planned a nice dinner with the group. We expect there will be plenty of good Burgundy wine since this is the capital of the Burgundy region of France.
This will be our last night in France as tomorrow afternoon we will begin the long journey home via Paris, Amsterdam, and Philadelphia. What an adventure we’ve had!