2016-07-19 (Day 33) Nantua – Moirans – Bresles

Today’s photo shows Chris Froome being interviewed by French TV after signing in before the start of Stage 16 of the Tour de France in Moirans-en-Montagne. The French public are certainly warming to Chris Froome as only Peter Sagan got a bigger cheer than Froome from the crowd. Last year, I had watched Froome sign in at Saint Jean de Maurienne and he only got a muted response that day. But since last year, Froome has learnt to speak French and conducted out all his interviews at this year’s Tour in French. It has certainly paid off and French TV have been much more accepting of his performances even though if anything, he has been even more dominant this year than last.

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Camping du Signal in Nantua. After watching the Tour go past in Anglefort the day before, we then drove about 50 km further north and stopped for the night at Camping du Signal in Nantua. I had stayed here 2 weeks previously on the Tour de Travoy and we stopped off again during the Tour de Jeep.

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Total traveled on Monday in the Jeep – 250 km. Total traveled so far – 1350 km. The plan today was to see the start of Stage 16 of the Tour de France at Moirans-en-Montagne about 50 km away and then spend the afternoon driving north back towards Beauvais.  While the riders were not due to leave until 12.30, the cavalcade always sets off about 2 hours before the cyclists, so it meant we had to get up about 7 and be on the road about 8 to make it to Moirans-en-Montagne in time to catch the cavalcade.

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Crowd waiting on the cavalcade in Moirans-en-Montagne. We missed the start of the cavalcade by about 5 minutes but still managed to get a pile of stuff. Not as much merchandise as the day before at Anglefort but quite a good haul considering we were late. I had got slightly lost on the way to Moirans and we ended up going through Oyannax rather than around it. Fortunately, when we got to Moirans, we were directed to park in an industrial estate. Last year, when myself and Noel went to the stage start in Saint Jean de Maurienne, we had spent about half an hour stuck in traffic and ended up parking outside someone’s house. But the traffic management was much better in Moirans-en-Montagne and there were a lot of stewards directing the traffic, which meant we got to Moirans town centre in time to see most of the cavalcade.

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Even the Devil himself was in Moirans-en-Montagne. The Devil is a German called Didi Senft and he has been a common sight at the Tour de France since 1993. As well as being famous for dressing up as a Devil, Didi also holds the Guinness World Record for the world’s largest rideable bike , which he built in 2012. The bicycle measures 7.8 m  long, 3.7 m high and weighs 150 kg.  I had read in 2014 that the Devil was retiring from attending the Tour after he underwent an operation to remove a clot from his brain. But he obviously recovered quite quickly and here he is in Moirans-en-Montagne at the start of the stage today.

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Signing-in stage at Moirans-en-Montagne. Every day on the Tour de France, French TV have a show called Village Depart to co-incide with  the riders signing in before the start of each stage. Myself and Noel had gone to the start last year in St Jean de Maurienne but there was a lot more room this year in Moirans-en-Montagne and it was easier to get a good view of the stage.

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Considerable security at the signing-in TV show. I don’t remember seeing any gendarmie (police officers) at the Village Depart show last year but there were loads today all around the stage. All of these officers were armed and had anyone tried to storm the stage, they almost certainly would have been shot.

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Dan Martin was one of the first cyclists to sign in. Dan had been up to 3rd in the GC during the Pyrenees but had lost some time on Mont Ventoux and was in 9th place at the start of today’s stage.

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A minutes silence for the victims of the Bastille Day attack in Nice. At 12 o’clock exactly. the stage was crowded with race officials and some French riders to observe a minute’s silence for the victims in Nice.

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Winner of the previous day’s stage to Culoz, Jarlinson Pantano. Jarlinson was presented with a medal for winning the previous day’s stage and was interviewed in Spanish about his victory. Jarlinson’s team, IAM Cycling are folding at the end of the 2017 season but he will have no trouble finding another team after winning a mountain stage in the Tour de France.

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Chris Froome being interviewed on French TV.  Chris Froome was a lot more relaxed being interviewed here than when he was interviewed just after the stage to Mont Ventoux on Bastille Day. That had been a crazy day during which he had to run part of the way to try and get a spare bike but he had survived a tough stage the day before in the Jura mountains and he looked in complete control of this Tour with less than a week left.

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Fabian Cancellera being interviewed after signing in. Today’s stage was finishing in Berne, Cancellara’s home town. As this is his last Tour de France, he was interviewed for longer than any other cyclist.

Biggest cheer of the day was for Peter Sagan. After the Ventoux stage, Peter was interviewed in English but here in Moirans, he was asked questions in Italian. Sagan was one of the last cyclists to sign in and and he then spent about 5 minutes signing autographs. Shortly after Sagan had signed in, the presenters all left the stage and went down to where the cyclists were were assembled awaiting the countdown clock and signal to start cycling.

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Chris Froome and Peter Sagan on the big screen at the start-line in Moirans. As there was a huge crowd at the start-line, we decided to watch the departure of the cyclist’s on the big screen. The jersey holders always line up in a line at the start line. As Froome has about 50 Yellow Jerseys and Sagan must have about 50 Green Jerseys by now as well, I am sure they must know each other pretty well by now as they have almost always been together on the start-line for nearly every stage of the Tour de France the last few years.

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Queue of vehicles and coaches queued up behind the cyclists. There were hundreds of coaches and cars lined up behind the cyclists awaiting the send off from the Directeur General. Often the start in a host town is a “depart fictif” and the cyclists cruise for about 5 or 10 km until once clear of the suburbs, the Directeur General will wave a white flag to signify the “depart real” and the racing will begin.

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Countdown clock showing 25 seconds until the Grand Depart. The battery went on my camera just at this point so I didn’t get to actually film the cyclists leaving. By the time I had started up my spare camera, the cyclists had left. Message to self for next year to make sure to check the battery more carefully in future.

Loads of decorations in Moirans-en-Montagne for the Tour de France. Chapeau to Moirans for putting on such a great display to welcome the Tour de France. Staging a start of the Tour de France is not cheap and it would have cost the town up to a million euro just to host the start. But the local authority certainly did a great job as there was loads of bunting and Tour de France related displays throughout the town. Most of the local businesses also embraced the occasion by decorating their shops in all sorts of Tour de France paraphernalia.

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Time for one last photo in Moirans-en-Montagne. We were lucky to get a few Jura flags which were being given out to promote the region. They were brilliant for preventing sunburn to your arms and neck as it was seriously hot this morning in the Jura. We were in such a rush that we had forgot to bring any sun-cream with us from the Jeep. Fortunately, we did remember to bring supplies of water and juice with us as the temperature was over 30 degrees Centigrade. It took about 20 minutes to walk from where the Tour de France had started back to our Jeep but by the time we got there, most of the traffic had already left and we had no trouble getting onto the main road north.

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Hammocks at Camping Croix d’Arles near Langres. After driving for about  6 hours after leaving Moirans-en-Montagne, we finally made it to our campsite for the night. The campsite has loads of trees which is great for shade and they also had some hammocks hanging from some of them. So what better way to relax after such a long drive than chilling out in a hammock.

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Bon Appetit. We had a lovely meal of fish and pasta at the campsite and I also ordered the dessert of the day, rhubarb crumble, which was delish. Dinner and dessert for 2 adults and 2 kids only cost about €40, which was by far the best value meal we had anywhere in France.

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Artwork in the campsite restaurant at Croix d’Arles.  Our dinner was by far the best meal we had at a any campsite we had stayed in and the artwork on the wall of the restaurant was good as well. This painting reminded me of myself during the Tour de Travoy. Apart from the set of scales, I think I have nearly everything else that is shown in this painting.

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Jigsaw showing all the departements in France. The reception of the campsite had a jigsaw showing all 90+ departements in France. I started counting the departements I had been to in the last 15 months but gave up when I got to 40. We still had about 400 km to travel to reach Beauvais airport and our journey the following day would take us through about 5 departements.

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Total traveled on Tuesday in the Jeep – 400 km.  Total traveled so far – 1750 km. Our route today between Saint Geosmes and Fismes followed the exact route I had cycled last year on the Tour de Travoy. What had taken me about 3 days to cycle last year, only took about 5 hours to drive in the Jeep today.

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Vineyards in Champagne. Our route today took us through both the Aube and the Aisne regions of Champagne.There has not been as much sunshine in France this summer compared to last year but there was plenty today.

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Famous champagne sign in Hautvilliers. I had photographed this sign last year on the Tour de Travoy but it is not so easy to photograph from a Jeep that is moving much quicker than a loaded down tour bike.

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Camping de la Trye in Bresles. This is the nearest campsite to Beauvais Airport and it was near 6 when we eventually made it here. I had stayed here the week before and was charged €15 for a night for just myself and a tent but the Jeep with 2 adults and 2 children only cost an extra tenner. We pitched our tents and then went into town for a bite to eat and to fill up the Jeep with diesel. We had got the Jeep with a full tank of fuel and were expected to return it with a full tank or we would be fined. We had stopped the day before near Langres for diesel so only need about €20’s worth in Bresles to fill up the tank. All in all, we had spent about €110 on diesel driving 1800 km around France. At an average cost of €1.25 a litre, we ended up using about 90 litres of fuel and managed about 20 km per litre or around 55 mpg.

Temperature was reading 37 degrees on the Jeep’s display and 42 degrees on a pharmacy sign. Last year on the Tour de Travoy, I had photographed a lot of pharmacy signs and the highest I had come across was 36 degrees down in Saint Gaudens in the Midi Pyrenees. But here in Bresles, the pharmacy sign was displaying 42 degrees. At the same time, the Jeeps display was reading 37 degrees. The Jeep was probably the more accurate but even 37 degrees is well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit and close to the temperature of your blood. Believe me, it was seriously hot even though it was about 8 o’clock in the evening.

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Castello restaurant in Bresles. We celebrated our last evening in France here at the Castello restaurant. Myself and the kids ordered pizza while Karen had some pasta. The restaurant was lovely and the food was delish and probably the best of any restaurant we had dined at in France. We couldn’t have picked a better venue to spend our last evening.

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