Saturday, July 4, 2009


July 4th, 2009: THE 2009 TOUR DE FRANCE BEGINS TODAY….

Enjoy the time trials today in Monaco before the road race begins tomorrow!

Check details at:

For television coverage: check your local VERSUS NETWORK channel or their website at:

Our journey continues as we watch the 2004 Tour pass through Dinan……

Saturday, July 10th, 2004 The Race Passes Thru Dinan

Slept in until about 6:30 am when we heard the city noises; but watched CNN until nearly 8 am before heading down for breakfast. The sun is shinning and it looks like a wonderful day for the bicycle riders. We have all morning to explore the town. We found Dinan first in 2000 on a day trip out of Saint-Malo. At that time we said we’d enjoy staying here…and here we are! We’re going out to walk and enjoy the shops before the city is full of tourists and Tour de France fans this afternoon.

Le Tour de France in 2004: When we arrived at the Tour de France area; the barriers were already up and the crowd was beginning to stake out the best spots. I saw a woman with the same type of digital camera that I have and found that she spoke English. She was from New York and had lived in Claremont California a few years back. We talked for quiet awhile and found that they had also stayed at Mere Poulard in Le Mont Saint-Michel on the same night we were there. They had the expensive dinner at the hotel and were very disappointed at the quality of the food. So, guess it was good that we passed on the dinner. When I told her the breakfast was not only reasonably priced but excellent; she was sorry that they had decided not to eat there after their experience with dinner as they had problems finding breakfast elsewhere. We exchanged information on the restaurants in Dinan.

I found a great spot and Jim went back to the hotel to pick up some things to keep us busy for the next three hours. I had a French lady on the right of me who was busy eating her lunch and was very quiet. We had a low wall made of stone that was the perfect height for sitting on and we could put our feet on the barrier to reserve our space. Soon there was a French family on the right of me. I kept my feet on the barrier, tied my jacket on it also and spread my things next to me to keep a space for Jim. Didn’t think he’d ever get back! He finally arrived as the caravan was getting started.

The Caravan is a series of vehicles decorated by the companies that sponsor the race and give away items by throwing them at the crowds as they drive past at about twenty to thirty miles per hour! It’s faster in the countryside and a bit slower in the cities. This year there are two hundred vehicles with forty two different brand names represented. The caravan will take about forty-five minutes to pass through each town and over the course of the race they will distribute eleven million gifts to the people standing along the routes. They generally arrive about an hour before the bicycles.

Jim purchased a packet with a hat, shirt and tiny bear for the Tour de France from a boutique truck that had items for sale. Jim had to go chase the girl down to get the hat that was missing from the package! Soon they were crowding in; Jim stood up to get a better look down the road and instantly a Frenchman was standing on the wall behind him. We had a Scottish man and his son that had already jumped up on the wall when our French lady on the left made the mistake of standing up! Soon the wall space was gone but we had the best space next to the metal barrier. The caravan arrived and started throwing things out…we had a cheese item land right at our feet. It was fun to watch people scrambling for items. Across the street we saw the local Mayor in a suit and tie…he was standing just like we were, holding his spot on the barrier. He was holding out a flag that said Dinan/Tour de France/1995. Talking to the Frenchman behind us he said that the race had ended in Dinan in 1995 and that was the flag used at the finish line.

Since the Mayor had his flag out; I got out our American Flag and draped it across the barrier in front of us. It was nearing time for the bicycle riders to arrive and suddenly a French policeman crossed the street and blocked our view. The French women became alive….she started spreading out our American flag and yelling at the policeman to move because the Americans had come a long way to see their American rider. From that point on they were very friendly and communicative in broken English and we in broken French. Amazing how much one can understand when some effort is put forth. Eventually the policeman shrugged his shoulders and move!

Soon the riders were there…lots of yelling and clapping…then they were gone. Lots of fun and everyone was in good spirits as we dispersed back into the town. It had looked like rain for at least an hour before the riders arrived; but only clouds. Later in the race the riders did finally have rain for the end of their race. We stayed dry with intermittent sunshine. We spent the remainder of the afternoon climbing up to the top of the clock tower for a view of the countryside and village after we finished watching the race on television in our room. From there we ate an early omelet dinner about 6 pm and then church at 7 pm.

After church we walked the Ramparts and discovered the really old part of the city down by the Port of Dinan. The city was originally built along the river in medieval times and in later years moved up the hill behind a wall during the wars. The city did not sustain any damage during either of the World Wars and is in very good condition with many half-timbered buildings. Really quite a hike, I thought it was about forty five degrees while walking it back to our hotel but Jim said no, only about a fifteen degree incline. But we enjoyed it so much we plan to go back tomorrow and do more exploring. We thought we were staying in the old town but found that there is much more than we’d realized. If you are traveling in this area; plan to stay several days, as it’s really wonderful and so there is so much to do and see!

1 comment:

Mary said...

Much fun to see the photos of the caravan that comes before the riders. Wish they would show some of this on the TV to us viewers at home.

Really enjoyed seeing Dinan again. Your pictures brought back memories of our day in Dinan. It's so great to have the captions on the pictures.