08 July 2012

I am going to France

I leave tomorrow morning for France. My flight will take wing to London and into Lyon where a most awesome vacation shall commence. In times past I have chased the Tour de France, I have gone to ride the Etape du Tour, I have gone to climb col after col every day, but this trip to France will be purely a fun vacation. A healthy mix of being a tourist, seeing news places, 5 stages at the Tour de France, history, land, and culture and good food and drink.
My Mom wants to know what stages of the Tour de France I will be attending so she can watch for me. Okay Mom - I plan to be at the start in Macon on Stage 10, on the climb of the Col de la Madeleine on Stage 11, at the start in St. Paul-Trois-Chateaux on Stage 13, on the Col d'Aubisque on Stage 16, and on the mountain top finish at Peyregudes on stage 17. I changed plans dramatically recently and have been busy creating a varied vacation plan. After first wanting to go cycle cycle cycle, I then considered chasing a chunk of the TDF as press, then suddenly I was instead planning a vacation for other travel companions instead, then after everyone canceled out I found myself asking the question - what do I want to do?
The result - anatomy of a vacation in France by Pedal Dancer - an itinerary of a cycling, tourist, Tour de France fan trip to France:
  • Fly British Airways into Lyon in Rhône-Alpes region; pick up a Europcar rental car and stay at a convenient hotel outside of Lyon, Le Petit Casset in La Boisse.
  • Go to the stage start of Stage 10 in Macon, tour the Beaujolais wine area and picnic. Be a tourist in the city of Lyon.
  • Climb Col de la Madeleine to see a stage go over the first climb of Stage 11.
  • Climb Mont Ventoux in the early morning; Stay at a nice Bed & Breakfast in Provence La Bois Dormant; Play tourist in Provence and go on a couple rides in the Luberon; yummy special dinner at La Coquillade in Gargas.
  • Drive to the Pyrenees.
  • TDF Stage 16 climb Col d'Aubisque; descend to watch finish of race on TV in a bar in Gourette, Eaux-Bonnes, or Laruns with other fans; dinner of traditional Béarn cuisine in the restaurant.
  • TDF Stage 17 - drive to Arreau, climb Col de Peyresourde to Peyrugudes for mountain top finish (meet up with Thomson Bike Tour); return to farm outside of Gan where we will stay for 4 nights.
  • The next three days are open to exploring and riding local rides in the Midi-Pyrenees and Pyrénées-Atlantiques (Pays Basque) region of Aquitaine; cycling and vignobles du Jurançon and maybe a hike to Pic du Midi d'Ossau. Monica returns to Paris by TGV from Pau with a 1-night stay; I have 2 more days at the farmhouse in the foothill of the Pyrenees (my favorite place in the whole world)
  • A long anticipated return for 2-nights at La Lanterne Rouge cycling lodge in Saint-Savin with Paddy and Olive from VeloPeloton; more cycling in the Hautes-Pyrénées near the Col du Tourmalet and Col du Soulor (although I'd like to so some different climbs this time); and my birthday!
  • Depart from Toulouse - London - LAX; a day with my family before returning home.
Wow! do you want to come too?
I will have wi-fi at all hotels except at the farm (but who would want it there anyway?). I will blog or post photos when I can. Please keep me informed of what is going on in the Tour de France, because when I am there, I am too up-close-and-personal to really know what is going on over 180km every day when I am busy having my own adventures.
I look forward to being in France again, to having a terrible cup of coffee in a paper cup and a sandwich in a plastic triangle from the peage rest stop, to eating figolu's and delicious lemon yogurt, to enjoying wonderful tiny pitchers of wine. and real fresh baguettes. To exploring so many new towns and places I've never been before. To riding on a small mountain road, and to meeting many new fans of cycling on a few epic days at the Tour de France.
Thanks to my parents and Mike and Suz for always helping me with, and making my travel trips possible. To Susan who always stays at my home with my pets while I am away, to Mike and Heather for all their help, and to Dash, Sue and Scott who encourage my travels and talk tour like nobody else. Especially to Scott for placing my new SRAM compact crank and to Competitive Cyclist for over-nighting the part to me and offering to get it to me in France if need be. A huge thanks to Monica for joining me last-minute on what I hope will be an excellent adventure.
Mom if you can pick me out of the millions of fans along the road at the Tour de France - you are awesome. I will be wearing this:
France here I come .... come along with me, as a huge fan of cycling plays tourist in France.