We went over to Limoux on Sunday to see the Tour de France. We were of course, virgins, not having ever seen one in person or really even watched one on television. I guess we were naive virgins, to be exact. We had talked to our neighbors and rabid Tour fans, Harry and Dianne, from Alberta, Canada and they gave us some tips on how to see the thing, how to avoid the maddening crowds, where to go, etc. We set out with every intention of following their suggestions but instead went directly to Limoux found a likely spot across from the Cafe de France, parked Smokey six feet from the race course, and went and had a coffee while waiting for the festivities.
We were advised to go to a hilly spot so you could see the cyclists for a few seconds more because they would be going slower. We were advised to find a place where a road came to a "T" where we wouldn't be too far from the course, park and walk to the scene. Take a lunch and something to drink. Good advice, but as we were driving through Limoux we found a good spot and jumped on it. Instead of a hill, it had a cafe and a boulangerie. Instead of a "T" it had a shady parking lot. We didn't need the lunch and water.
We waited for awhile and along came the sponsors of the Tour de France. Unlike a parade in the States where floats are made to withstand a high speed of 2mph, these things whizzed by at a good clip, may be 30 mph. So fast it was hard to take a photo of them. Instead of candy, as in an American parade, they threw hats, pens, keychains and all kinds of things with logos and promotional bullshit printed on it. I was trying to take pictures and things kept pelting me in the head or elsewhere. People came prepared with bags to put their loot into and some filled them to overflowing. The stream of promotional vehicles, Le Tour de Vendors, lasted maybe 45 minutes. These aren't even necessarily the best or most creative ones we have pictured here.
After the promotional vehicles came the official vehicles carrying writers, judges, gendarmes, timing officials, television crews, drug testing labs, drug testing officials, drug testing employees, drug testing equipment and other necessary people to handle the race. It was very impressive. We had now seen something like 350 vehicles cruise by in some official capacity. And, as of yet, we hadn't seen a peloton. The only lycra in view were the wannabees strutting their stuff, just imagining that someone might mistake them for the real thing.