After awakening from the dead we headed for the centre of the town and the Tourist Information office for news of Le Tour route and timings. We were staying in town all day to see the tour arrive and then heading down the Canal Montech to join the Garonne once more for the ride to Grenade.
We arrived in the town centre expecting tour fever only to be greeted with a small rash and some cursory signage.
We strolled around town and found the boulevard the caravan and the Tour would be coming down, there were small pockets of people and some tour souvenir stalls in evidence also food and drinks vendors were setting up. Most of the barriers seemed to be in place and the Gendarmes were pacing nervously back and forth in thier allotted piece of Tarmac. We found a spot likely to give us a good view, parked the bikes up and grabbed some lunch.
The tour is an amazing spectacle and those of you who are unfamiliar with the tour or perhaps have only seen the tv coverage might be surprised to learn that the entourage begins approx 2 hours before you even see a rider with a parade of official cars, police vehicles then “the caravan” a parade of sponsors vehicles throwing out mementoes to the crowd everything from shopping bags to haribos, hats to bandanas all thrown into the crowd and creating a massive scramble of bodies! Carol had seen the tour in France and Yorkshire and was well versed in bagging the free tat our haul for the day was 1 sun hat, 2 bandanas, 4 Madeleine’s, cocktail stirrer, 3 temp tattoos and a shopping bag. It was a hot day and some of the crowd dispersed once the caravan had gone through, we settled down for a wait and cast our eyes skyward as, often the first clue of the riders approaching is the sight of helicopters in the distance.
Soon we could see. Police and official tour traffic coming down the boulevard and it was’nt long before the riders followed. There was a breakaway then the main peloton and some stragglers over in minutes but the excitement of the crowd was amazing.
After the riders had gone past and the crowd began to thin we made our way back into the town and to the Canal Montech which would take us back down to the Garonne and onwards to Grenade and the Villa Léopoldine our hotel for the night.
We had eyeballed the Canal Montech on the way in unfortunately it wasn’t simply a matter of going under the road and along the canal entrance as there were very narrow steps impossible to manage with two heavy laden bikes. Luckily help was at hand and the lock master gave us very precise directions to the pathway leading to the basin and the canal path. These instructions included going through a very small tunnel and we both had to duck on our bikes to prevent banging our heads!
In no time at all we were winging our way towards Grenade. The hotel had been in touch and given us a door code and left our room key on the reception desk as I had told them we were expecting to be late. The villa was excellent and by far the best place we had stayed in. We stored the bikes in the garden outhouse and made our way up to the room gazing at the detailed cornices and paintings, many for sale, which adorned the walls. The room was excellent the bathroom huge and we made use of the shower and the bath before collapsing into bed. It had not been a long day but the heat combined with the need to get to the hotel after the tour had tired us both out.
Stats Distance 33.5 miles
Climb 342 feet