Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Le Tour de France

One of the things I was really looking forward to on this trip (among many) was seeing the Tour de France in person.

I purposely chose the first stage in which the riders would meet a few decent climbs so we wouldn't just see them whiz right past us. I also chose stage 8 because it ended in Gerardmer and stage 9 started the next morning there (which doesn't always happen). Turns out, the town had to pay 150,000 Euro to have the tour stages end and start there.

                             

Anyway, a few months ago I booked a few nights through airbnb.com with our host Stephen of Chez Georgette. Stephen had inherited his grandmother's house in Gerardmer and was in the process of fixing it up and renting it out to visitors. Well, I'd say that we more than lucked out. 


Our first lunch in town enjoying salad with cheesey bread and fresh creme on top. Europeans sure do like their good bread and cheese!

His rates were not only totally reasonable (he charged about half what everyone else was), but he was also an awesome host, from cooking us a few amazing vegetarian dinners to buying fresh baguettes and good cheese from the markets to driving us to the train station 30 min away. And the house had an awesome view to boot!


The house was pretty large, so he had rented the rest of the house out to a group of 16 (3 couples with 2 kids each and 2 aunts). While it was a little crazy with all the kiddos, it was a lot of fun and the people were all so nice. They were all Americans, but two of the families have temporary international stays for work.

The town of Gerardmer was pretty great too. With a population of about 9,000 and a beautiful lake, it makes it the perfect relaxing destination, Tour de France or not.

                               

Overall, it was incredible to get to see just a sliver of the tour! All of the details and man power that go into setting up and taking down just one stage of this race are incredible!

                              

July 12, the morning of the stage (and our one year wedding anniversary) I got up early and went for a run up to see the finish area where we'd be spectating from. Decent hill workout! Then, came back to the house for a big breakfast and to get ready. 

We picked up sandwich supplies at the market (plus some tour swag) and hiked the hill for what would be essentially 5+ hrs of tailgating and anticipation with our housemates!

                                           

Serious game of Uno going on here!

                              

We checked out the finish line and podium area as we were stationed just 250m from the hill top finish (a 2km climb in total).

                              

During the afternoon, the team buses rolled through as well as a bajillion sponsors and all their free stuff.

                              

                              

The weather had been iffy, but about 45 min before the racers came through, it started to rain pretty good (and then thunder and lightning). But it didn't effect the awesomeness.

                              

And finally, for about 30 min we got to see some wet riders pushing to the top! Some looked pretty miserable and others looked determined to get to the finish strong.

                              

                              

We also got to see the riders on their neutral roll out start the next morning from downtown, which was cool. They all seemed a little more relaxed and th rain had cleared for a bit.

                             

As our host drove us out of town on Sunday to catch our train to Paris, he made sure to take us up to this cool view point of the lake and the entire city.

                                           

                                      

Gerardmer and Chez Georgette, we hope to be back someday!

We are now enjoying our last full day in Paris and fly home tomorrow. I suppose the honeymoon has to end sometime. ;) 

Oh, I thought it would also be worth mentioning that on several occasions, we've been told that in Europe, three weeks is a minimum length of vacation for most people and 4-6 weeks is more normal. Au revoir! 

4 comments:

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

Wow, you really lucked out on your accommodations! Sounds like you had an incredibly accommodating host! And that town looks so charming. I know how much of a bucket list this experience was for you guys, especially Manfriend w/ his love of biking, so I am glad you guys were able to experience the Tour de France!

Have a safe trip back! It feels like you've been gone a long time but on the other hand it feels like your trip has gone fast. I can't wait to hear more about it!!

missris said...

Ooooh this is so cool! I've been following along from the States--I grew up watching the Tour since my dad is both French and a big cycling fan--but seeing it in person is unbeatable! A once-in-a-lifetime experience!

Amber said...

I'm SOOO glad you guys got to see the Tour de France! So so cool and like Ris said a once in a lifetime experience.

Meh, we have also been told 3 weeks is a minimum for trips but we were pretty happy with our 2 week long trip to Ireland and Scotland. We were exhausted by the end of it and let's be serious, we don't have unlimited vacation days so we do what we can when we can and it all works out! I'm not sure when we will be back to Europe as next on our list is Asia and South America, but hopefully one day we can make it back there. We'd really like to spend Christmas in Paris one year!

Heather @ Dietitian on the Run said...

May be contacting you for future Tour + France travel tips! AirBnB is so great for finding local, under the radar, gems. Jackpot here! :) Love all of pics! What an amazing honeymoon adventure and bucket-list check!