2015-07-13 Villeneuve-sur-Lot – Auch

I took over 200 photos today, an average of 2 every km, which was the most of any day on the Tour de Travoy.  The photo above is like a scene from the Italian Riviera but it was actually taken in Agen and shows some boats on the Canal du Garonne.


Total today – 105 km. Total so far – 925 km. I remember tweeting about Sky Sports and their “Super Sunday” of sport and that I was after having a Super Sunday of cycling due to the stunning landscape, quiet roads , a tailwind and the mild temperatures.



Green and gold landscape. This part of France reminded me of Tuscany, it is just so beautiful.  Donegal were playing Monaghan today in the Ulster final and the green and harvest gold colour of the landscape was similar to a big Donegal flag.




Derelict disco near Saint Antoine-de-Ficalba. About 10 km from Villeneuve-sur-Lot, I came across this abandoned discotheque in the middle of the French countryside. Graffiti is everywhere in France and most places it is pretty awful. However, here the local hoods have transformed an old building into a work of art.


Poster for criterium cycle race. In the outskirts of Agen, I came across this poster for a criterium featuring Thibaut Pinot. What is incredible about the poster is that the town of Castillon-la-Bataille is 120 km from Agen; people must travel from far and wide to this criterium. All the Tour riders cash in by riding criteriums after the Tour with Chris Froome reportedly charging up to €50,000 just to appear. No doubt Pinot’s fee was increased after his victory on Alpe d’Huez. The criterium organiser’s pay for the appearance fees by charging spectators to see the riders. Tickets in Castillon-la-Bataille cost €17 to watch the cyclists go round a 3 km circuit 30 times. Team Sky got just over half a million euros in prize money for winning the Tour de France with Froome getting 1/9th of the total as any prize money is split equally among the riders. Froome is probably paid about €3m a year by Sky and lives in Monaco so doesn’t pay tax but it is incredible to think that he would have got as much money from this small criterium as he did for winning the Tour de France.

2015 Castillon-la-Bataille criterium. This criterium was won by Roman Bardet, who is from a nearby region, with Chris Froome second and Pinot’s teammate Alexandre Geniez third. For some reason, Bardet hasn’t posted this spin on Strava but he has posted his victory on Stage 18 of this year’s Tour de France under the hashtag #happiestrideever.


Garonne river. Agen is located on the Garonne, which is the widest river that I have crossed since the Loire at Beaugency.


Canal du Garonne bridge. The Canal du Garonne in the cover photo is completely separate from the river Garonne and indeed in one place crosses over the river on a stone arch bridge.


World War 1 memorial in Layrac. There are war memorials in nearly every town in France but this one in the town of Layrac was unusual as it had both French and European flags. There are almost 50 names of people inscribed on the memorial, who died in the First World War, and that is incredible for such a small village 500 km from the front-line.


Sign for Tarbes. The first sign I saw for Tarbes, I had to stop and take a photo. The Pyrenees were getiing closer every day now.


The Brulhois wine region is in the centre of this map
The Brulhois wine region is in the centre of this map

Brulhois vin noir. I have heard of film noir but never before about vin noir or black wine. But in this part of France, the Brulhois region, the local vineyards produce a red wine that is so dark it is known as vin noir.



Fleurance rugby club. In this part of France, rugby is the dominant sport and in the small town of Fleurance, I came across a huge rugby stadium. Fleurance is an amateur team and they play in Federale 2, which is the 4th tier of French rugby. The top tier is Top 14, then there is Pro D2 (16 teams), then Federale 1 (40 teams) and then Federale 2 (80 teams). The season runs from September to February and then play-offs in March and April. Today, the stadium was completely deserted but all the gates were wide open, so I could have run about on the pitch if I wanted too. Notice the little flags on the top of the posts and also the blue paint, which I guess makes it easier for the linesmen to see if a kick is successful.



Auch, D’Artagnan’s home town. It was after 7 by the time I got to Auch, so I decided to stop for the night at the Camping de L’Isle St. Martin campsite beside the river Gers. Auch is the historical capital of Gascony and is also famous as the hometown of D’Artagnan, one of the Three Muskateers and there is a statue of him beside the Cathedrale Sainte-Mairie.


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