Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Stage 10 of the 2009 Tour de France began after a day of rest in the city of Limoges and ended 120.5 miles later in the city of Issoudun with history going back to the Gallo-Roman era. Flat stages today but the French will want to win to celebrate the major holiday of the French Revolution: Bastille Day!

On the first hill today we saw a break away of 3 Frenchmen and 1 Russian riders. They held their lead for over four hours, a lead of only three minutes most of the time, until the last seconds of the race when the Peloton caught them! Mark Cavendish sprinted into take the Stage Winner position with Thor Hushovd a close second, third place was taken by the young American rider Tyler Farrar! An exciting but not unexpected finish for Stage 10 in the beautiful city of Issoudun.

Our top four leaders are:

#1: Rinaldo Nocentini

#2: Alberto Contador + .6 seconds

#3: Lance Armstrong +.8 seconds

#4: Levi Lephemier + .39 seconds

Our Jerseys were awarded today to:

Top Team Overall: Stages 8, 9 & 10: Ag2R-La Mondiale

(Team Astana is 3 seconds behind on the overall team score)

Maillot Jaune: Rinaldo Nocentini

Maillot Vert: Thor Hushovd

Maillot a Pois Rouges: Egoi Martinez

Maillot Blanc: Tony Martin

Back to our 2004 story as we leave La Mongie and head for Provence

Saturday, July 17th, 2004 Travel day to Gordes in Provence

We had breakfast at the hotel in La Mongie before heading out for the long drive to Gordes in the Luberon area of Provence. At breakfast we enjoyed watching some Americans (from Charleston) type emails and send them on their Blackberry. Their service was through T-Mobile and he said that all he did was notify T-Mobile prior to leaving the states that he was going to be in Europe and they “registered” him. A piece of information for you Blackberry fans if you travel in Europe. We offered to take a photo and email it for them after they mentioned that it was too bad it didn’t have a built-in camera. [my how fast times change!] They loved the idea and provided me with a friend’s email address. We took the photo and sent it after we arrived in Gordes.

It was a long day of driving even though we paid the tolls for the major roads. There was very heavy traffic between the weekenders heading to the coast of the Mediterranean for cooler weather and the thousand heading for the next stage of the Tour de France. We never made it to Lourdes while we were in the area; but since we’d been twice before it was not high on the priority list. From Toulouse on we had fields of sunflowers. Some were so new they hadn’t bloomed yet. No rain but overcast skies.

Arrived in Gordes at our wonderful Hotel Le Mas des Romanins located an easy ten minute walk from the center of the village. We had a wonderful view of the village from our bedroom window. After we watched Lance Armstrong take first place in Stage thirteen on television; we walked into town and then we drove down to the Abbey Senanque. The Abbey is a ten minute drive down a narrow, winding road that is mostly one way with pullout located along the sides every fifty meters or so. People park to take photos of the Abbey from the road. We arrived at 6 pm, just in time for the Vespers service in the Chapel. It lasted about an hour; there were seven monks, no music except for their chanting. Made us want to come back for Mass on Sunday. The Abbey is surrounded by fields of lavender. Last time we were here they were in the process of harvesting but now it is in full bloom. The bees and butterflies were very busy.

Back at the hotel we walked to our dinner reservations in the village; a charming little Bistro called The Bouquet de Basilic. Very elegant in a simple way; we ate outside in the patio area. Enjoyed a Kir and then a tomato/cheese salad followed by thinly sliced salmon with a wonderful sauce. Jim enjoyed sharing the salad and his plate of Canard with an assortment of vegetables. We’ve been pretty good about the “spirits” and generally have a Kir and then share a large bottle of water with gas instead of wine and/or beer. Helps us sleep better at night. We walked home to the sound of the insects in the trees. If you watched Tiger Woods play golf in Georgia several months ago…that’s the sound that we hear outside. Cicadas are something like grasshoppers but they make more noise and stay in the trees. And another beautiful day has come to a gentle close.

Sunday, July 18th:

Down to breakfast by 8 am, we enjoyed a buffet style continental breakfast on the patio overlooking the city. By 9 am we were back at the Abbey Senanque for Mass. The church was full and today there were nine Monks; six priest and three brothers. They all participated in the celebration of the Mass. We were able to sit right up in front and even attempted to sing some of the songs during the mass with the French people. Again, there was no music except for un-amplified voices enhanced by the high dome of the stone chapel. The Mass lasted for an hour and fifteen minutes. But who was counting; it was so beautiful. Afterwards we walked the grounds and enjoyed smelling the Lavender again. Several of the people at the mass were staying there at the Monastery. Lots of empty rooms and it appears they rent them out? Don’t know the details but if you’re traveling in this area it might be a good one to check. I do know that Borders Books has some books specifically dealing with staying at convents and monasteries in Europe.

The weather was getting warm so we changed into shorts before walking into the village to check out the Historical Sites. One that we visited was an Olive Oil Mill. Due to the location on the hillside, every building had extensive basements (caves) dug under them for storage and production of wine and olive oil from the fruits of their vineyards and orchards. Some of these went down for up to seven stories underground. They date back to over a thousand years ago. Very cool place to tour on this very warm day!

Bike race time, we watched the fourteenth stage of the Tour from our room. Nothing exciting, rather level day; unknown leaders…as Jim said they’ve started their rest day early. They spend the night in Nimes and have Monday off as an official rest day before the mountains starting Tuesday. High ranking riders are going to remain about the same but it’s a great opportunity for those in the back to have a great day.

Tonight we’re driving over toVenasque, about half an hour away, for dinner at the Hotel Ramparts. We stayed there for a week in 2000 and remember their spectacular sauces made from herbs picked fresh from the nearby woods every day.

We’re off for Saint Egreve tomorrow; high in the mountains near Grenoble. We’ll be there three days to experience the ride up the “Alpe de ‘Huez” mountain by the riders on Stage 16 of the 2004 Tour. Yes…we will have missed four stages and one rest day while we’ve been enjoyed Provence.

Jim has to make the big decision on Tuesday as to whether or not he is going to drive up to the top of Alpe d’Huez to see the finish at the top of the mountain on Wednesday. If he goes, he will be sleeping in his car for at least one night in the sleeping bag that we’ve brought with us from home for this purpose. The problem is not that our hotel is so far from the race as the fact that there is only one road in and out and they close it early and open it long after the race is completed. Me? I’m going to stay comfortably in the hotel and watch it on television. He probably will also as we’re finding the crowds are extremely large and traffic is horrible on the roads. Also, we change hotels the day after that Stage is completed.

1 comment:

Mary said...

Great Post...No internet for us at Judys so am reading this on her computer. As usual so enjoyed your journal. Hugs Mary