I was coming home from some errands when I saw the sign posted at the edge of the big roundabout outside of town. On July 9, the road to Aigues-Vives would be closed due to the Tour de France.
Well, here was an interesting piece of information! I knew I had to figure out how to see it. I did a little asking around and checked in with friends; web sites were searched to determine the exact route through our corner of France. We ended up being a group of five who drove a few miles up the road to Aigues-Vives to watch Stage 13 of the 2021 Tour de France.
The first bit of excitement About two hours before the bicycles hum through town, there is the caravan. This is a parade of sponsor vehicles with loudspeakers making all manner of announcements; they also honked their horns a lot. People in or on these vehicles toss swag to the crowd: packets of salami, crackers, cookies and candy; samples of laundry detergent; key chains; water bottles; shopping bags; etc. The vehicles were speeding through town, which meant that the goodies being tossed to the masses were basically swag projectiles.
The next bit of excitement After the caravan of sponsor vehicles sped down the road, there was a break in the action. In our group, a Scrabble board had appeared and a game was being played. Conversation hummed lazily, dessert was served, and we all thought fondly of a nap on a warm summer day.
Soon enough, though, we began to hear the distinctive whap-whap-whap of helicopter rotors, a sure sign that the racers were rapidly approaching. Back out to the street, where the crowds had grown and the excitement was palpable.
We had a nice advance warning system, as the crowd a couple of blocks away would cheer, and we knew that someone was coming.
So my first Tour de France goes into the memory books. It was a magical day: perfect summer weather, the company of good friends, delicious food served by generous hosts, and a whole lotta fun with the quirks of this beast of a bike race. I may just return for more in future years!