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When the Tour de France whirs past your village

When the Tour de France passes through villages in France, locals join the team for the day. The cycling competition, which started last week, ends on July 27 on the Champs Elysees in Paris.

I was living in the medieval village of Bar-sur-Loup in the Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur region some years ago when the race passed through. Like dancers at a ballet barre, the village men could be seen stretching their limbs over the stone ramparts, dressed in the colors of their favorite teams in the weeks leading up to the Tour de France.

A bicycling enthusiast, my husband joined the teams from neighboring towns every Sunday to pedal up and down dizzyingly steep hills as his weekly exercise. The day the Tour de France was to pass us, he disappeared with his peloton (his group) up the hill, while my neighbor, Madame Mirabeau, walked down the hill with a picnic for us to take along.


We carried low canvas chairs and sat by the dusty side of the road for more than an hour waiting for the great bicycle race to come by. Then whoosh! They were gone in 15 seconds.

When we sat down to eat, our reward, we agreed, was the delectable meal Madame had prepared. She had made a pie filled with zucchini, onion, Emmental cheese, ham, eggs, and extra yolks, and cooked rice to bind it. It had both a bottom and top crust, and the rich slices stood high. It was easily as memorable as the wind and whir of the bicycle wheels passing through town.

Hillary Davis can be reached at