Great excitement in our tiny hamlet last Wednesday when the Tour de France came through. Preparations started early: the road surface was redone, verges were cut, campervans parked, tricolors unfurled and tensions mounted as contradictory road-closure notices were posted at each end of our col. (The mairie was unable to clarify…)

Flashing gendarmes

The big day dawned brochure-blue and after a leisurely lunch we sauntered down to watch the Caravane pass by. For about an hour, extraordinarily elaborate floats careered through the village at high-speed, chucking freebies at us. Followed by hundreds and hundreds of cars with police, press, cameras, paramedics, supporters, organisers and hangers-on. Then a lull…then five helicopters roared overhead, followed by gendarmes on their motos, whistling and flashing lights. We all held our breath…and suddenly the cyclists, head of the peloton, flashed past, followed by hundreds and hundreds of cars with spares on their roofs. It was over in a nanosecond!

I have zero interest in cycling, but I gather it’s the second biggest sporting event after the Olympics, so quite impressive. Tried not to think about the carbon footprint.