Wednesday, July 1, 2009


“The polka dot jersey (French: maillot á pois rouges) is awarded for the best climber during the mountain stages of the Tour de France cycle race. The “King of the Mountains” wears a white jersey with red dots”. At the top of each climb in the Tour there are points awarded to the riders who are first over the top. The climbs are divided into categories based on their difficulty. The rules have changed many times since the classification was originally started in 1933. The current point system was last changed in 2004. For more information go to:

For more information about the race on television: and on your local VERSUS NETWORK…check your local listings for the channel in your area.

Back to our adventure in 2004:

Monday, July 5th, 2004 Wine Country

Well it was an exciting soccer game but Greece beat Portugal with only one goal scored; very exciting but disappointing at the same time. We headed out to find the Petrus winery. Since their wine is very expensive; $300 and up a bottle, they are not looking for tourists; this we knew from the 2002 trip. We’d remembered a vague description of the area where we’d found it before; a difficult task then requiring two trips and lots of driving roads between vineyards. I checked my old journals (there’s a reason I load them on my laptop before leaving home) and discovered it was located near Pomerol. After about half an hour of driving we located the new building that was under construction in 2002; a beautiful old looking new building that appears to be used for very select wine buyers. Other than recognizing the buildings we’d have never known it was Petrus except for the name “Jean Pierre Mouiex” on the building. Jim knows that that is the family name of the vintner. The name “Petrus” that had been on the old building in 2002 was gone. Took some photos and then headed by the back roads north.

Our first stop was at a supermarket for gas, much cheaper than on the highway…only 1.03 euros per liter. Then into the store for cell phone time card and some groceries for snacks on the road and a bottle of Windex and paper towels for the bugs we’re getting on the windshield. Back on the road we headed North on a “red road” that should be rather direct and free. Opps….it became the morning of “Deviations”. Road Repairs! After about two hours and one hundred kilometers we were only about thirty miles from where we had spent the night. Back to another supermarket for more maps and then we headed for the toll way and on to Chinon where we had our reservations for the evening.

We’re enjoying the quaintness of Chinon again. No television in the hotel so Jim walked down to the local bar and watched the end of the bike race with the local Frenchmen. We plan to go back into town this evening for a dinner at the Creperie recommended by Rick Steves. It’s only a short walk from the hotel. We’re in the western end of the Loire Valley that has all the French Chateaus. Chinon was the castle where Joan of Arc recognized the disguised Dauphin, the future King of France, Charles VII; not much of the castle left except for the Keep, but there is lots of history connected with this place.

Tuesday, July 6th: Loire Valley and Chartres

Up and out after a very continental French breakfast…not much other than bread, juice, jam and coffee; we headed for the self service Laundromat in Chinon. After several hours and about fifteen euros we were back on the road with clean clothes. Our evening yesterday was very quiet with no television in the room. At dinner we met a very nice American woman and her three young daughters.. They were traveling on their own, Mom was driving. The husband had been with them for the first week in Germany and then had to return home to Florida. She continued through Italy, Switzerland and now in France. They had five more days in Paris before flying home. She enjoyed talking with adults for an hour. A Spanish teacher, the language was easier for her than most, but she was still having difficulty with French. I forgot to mention that yesterday we were again able to enjoy the sunflowers as the road to Chinon meandered through field after field of yellow sunflowers! As we go north we will lose the sunflowers and return to them in two weeks when we venture south again. These fields looked much more French than the Spanish sunflowers! (That’s a joke!)

Tonight we are enjoying the room with a view of the Cathedral in Chartres, about an hour west of Paris. It’s always very nice to see this beautiful church again. This is our second time to stay overnight in Chartres and the fifth time we’ve been through the church. We always seem to find something new about it for esoteric reasons. This time Jim showed me the Labyrinth, a medieval pilgrimage within the church. The bells have a beautiful ring and we will enjoy them even in the middle of the night. Several crashes today on the Tour de France; but our Lance was not one of them. He’s holding his own and will not really shine until the mountains.

A television in the room today was somewhat better for Jim than a trip to the local bar. We also reached a friend by cell phone who is staying in the south of France with friends to watch the race. Jim plans to meet up with them on one of the mountain days towards the 15th of July or so. Our weather seems to be holding, lots of clouds but today was between 73 and 85 degrees, with sunshine, can’t ask for more. So glad we were in Spain earlier; they’ve had terribly hot weather since we left. We’re doing well on the gasoline by buying it at the Supermarche. Kinda like going to the gas station at Costco. Sometimes requires cash but cheaper per liter than at regular gas stations. NOTE: It’s Wednesday and the bells didn’t ring all night, the last ring was about 10:30 pm and first ring today was at 7 am.

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