Wednesday, July 7, 2010

On the Finnish Line in Reims for Tour de France

Last night we walked over to the Cathedral at dusk; just after 10 pm and took some photos with the lights on the building; realized after we arrived that I hadn’t put my disk back into my camera and I was snapping photos on the hard drive of the camera…will have to wait until I get home to take them off…I didn’t pack my cord as I NEVER take photos without my disk!!! This morning I put an extra disk into my purse which should ensure that I never make this mistake again! Maybe I’ll walk over again this evening.

We slept in this morning and leisurely enjoyed our free time. About 10 am we walked over to the Museum of fine Arts known as Musee des Beaux-Arts. Housed in the 18th century building of the Abbey of St. Denis; featured a mix of statues, furniture and paintings. One that Jim really wanted to see: la Mort de Marat by Louis David 1793 was out on loan so we didn’t get to see that one. On the way to the Musuem we saw that the church of St. Jacques was open…first time we’ve seen it open since we have arrived and we walk past it several times a day as it is on the way to the Cathedral. Hope you enjoy some of the photos. It is also one of the churches on the Pilgrim’s Trail of the Camino de Santiago de Compostela in Spain.

We spent some time window shopping before heading back to our hotel about noon for the Internet, television, and relaxing in our room. The only thing we saw that was tempting but way too large for the suitcase was in a Nature Store….tiny LED lights inside of artificial orchids.

We’ve been watching the World Cup as well as the Tour de France so we also get to practice our French while listening to the commentary. We were on the streets last night when The Netherlands won their semi-final game and the crowds were very excited; we’re seeing a lot of orange shirts among tourists. Also, we’re seeing that long horn that makes those terrible noises in South Africa at the soccer games; they’re starting to blow them along the Tour de France route! It will be interesting on Sunday to watch the finals especially if it is between Germany and The Netherlands….but then Spain would be a good game also. We will be in Colmar during the final game. We’re still scheduled for our same hotel for the weekend; Jim wasn’t able to find any hotel with air conditioning!

About 2 pm we’ll start walking towards the finish line for today’s stage. Along the way we will stop and visit the Musee Saint-Remi before reaching the finish line. I suspect that it will be very crowded and we’re going to be lucky if we can get anywhere near the finish line. We’re already seeing television concerning the area and it’s beginning to get crowded. We know from previous experience when we had hotel rooms above the finish line that it is set up during the night and nearly ready by dawn….then they wait until about 5 pm and after the awards it is immediately taken down and moved overnight to the next day’s finish line. Having spent hours standing for good spots in previous years we’re not hell bent on perfect….just want to be in the general area.

Ended up leaving for the race about 4 pm; Jim was right it was only about half an hour walk. But, it took us a bit longer as we followed a group of school children that we thought were headed for the finish line….long story….until we figured out we were wrong. Asked the teachers and they headed us back in the right direction. But, during our little segway we did walk past the Basilique Saint-Remi and also Madam Veuve Clicquot Cave that we’d toured on a previous trip. When I mentioned that her Cave was in Epernay a few days ago….I was wrong (again) it was the little monk’s Moet & Chandon Cave that I was thinking of that is in Epernay. So, the extra blocks on our way to the Finish Line for the Tour de France was well spent!

We arrived amid the chaos of the Caravan cars, huge motor homes arriving from each team and all kinds of vehicles attempting to find their parking area for the night. We finally…and yes the “sweat” was rolling down our backs and faces….found the finish line. Got a good look at the stage where they award the daily honors; slightly different from the last one that we saw in 2004. But, the large trucks that expand up to three stories for officials looked just like they did in 2004. At the end of the day they collapse like accordions down inside of the bottom one and off they go to the next city.

We found an area where we could see a large television screen showing the race and watched the final ten miles on that screen…Jim shot some nice video of the riders coming in but being a bit shorter my photos are not that great. But it was fun being on the finish line among the excitement generated by the French fans…and a few Americans that we heard speaking English as we passed by. Headed back to the hotel and it only took us about half an hour…..a two and a half hour adventure from start to finish. You’ll notice a couple of the photos show some creative seats that people found while waiting for the riders to arrive. Notice the one girl on top of the port-a-potties.

Alessandro Petacchi of Lampre Team took first place today, butCancellara of Saxo Bank retained the yellow jersey. Our Lance Armstrong is not doing well and is two and a half minutes behind in 18th place overall.

Tomorrow we get up early and catch the train to Epernay to watch the beginning of a stage. Hopefully I’ll have some great photos to share with you tomorrow.

1 comment:

Mary said...

Was great that you got to see a large screen TV to follow the race. I remember how excited we were when the California Bike Tour passed us in Big Bear. Have fun in the morning..

The Pilgrim Trail ?? I thought that it was across Spain? Does it also come down through France....