Sunday, August 12, 2012

Le Tour de France

J is a keen cyclist and when we lived in Australia, every July meant a month of no sleep. That is because for that month the television would be moved into the bedroom and J would stay up to 3.00am watching the Tour de France (TDF).

So when we moved to Denmark we decided that this was our opportunity to have the holiday of a lifetime and go and watch the TDF live. We spent over a year saving and six months planning this epic adventure. We booked a Winnebago, otherwise known as a motorhome, mapped out our route and reserved campsites all over France.

It is hard to describe just how beautiful France is. We drove over 4,500 km and every town we came across was more gorgeous than the one before. Since I grew up in a country that is only 200 years old, it was amazing to me to drive through medieval towns with roads and houses that have not changed a bit. Although beautiful to look at, it did make driving very difficult - there were some moments where I was worried the Winnebago was going to get stuck down the narrow lanes. But that was all part of the fun and adventure.

The first day of the Tour also marked my 28th birthday. It might not be what all girls think of as a great birthday but I loved watching the riders race through the streets of Leige, Belgium during the prologue on a beautiful hot summers day, drinking belgium beer. The day was topped off with a fantastic dinner at a tapas restaurant in the old city.

There were so many wonderful experiences - we camped on the side of mountains and woke up to the local farmers milking their cows. We drove over misty mountain passes and could barely see the cows, horses and goats that were invariably standing in the middle of the road just around the next corner. We rode the historic mountains of the TDF like Alpe d'Huez, Mont Ventoux and the Tourmalet, giving us even greater admiration for the riders. We also ate crepes at 2000 meters above sea level and croissants on the Avenue des Champs-Elysees.

It is really difficult to sum up our month-long trip around this beautiful country, so I will let the photos do the talking.

Celebrating my birthday during the Prologue in Liege, Belgium

The finish line of Stage 2 in Tournai, Belgium

Gorgeous medieval village (Sederon, France) where we stopped and enjoyed the local markets

Moet & Chandon Epernay - the heart of the Champagne Region (L) and driving into the Pyrenees.

Enjoying dipping my feet in the Mediterranean sea near Perpignan, France

Very proud to reach the top at 2001m- Col de Pailheres in the Pyrenees, France

Lake Geneva at dawn, Switzerland

Enjoying Geneva, Switzerland

Our campsite on the Cole de la Croix de Fer
You can just make out our motorhome, it is the last one on the left next to the yellow car.

The finish of Stage 7 - this section was graded at 21%, the steepest of the Tour

The famous switchbacks of Alpe d'Huez

Cheering on the Aussies: (L) Col du Grand Colombier and (R) Bagneres de Luchon

The view from the Col du Glandon, France

We made it to Paris! The final stage, the Rambouillet on the Champs Elysees

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