Monday, July 11, 2011

Le Tour part two: la caravane

After the road closes to traffic, the police and Tour officials do sweeps to ensure that everyone is off the road and that the way is clear for the race. A couple of hours before the bicyclists arrive, a parade of vehicles goes by. At first they are very official looking and police related.

The first of the official and police vehicles to come by us.

As we were waiting, I was reminded of the scene in "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" where people set up along side a road waiting for the space ships to go zooming by. That was us. And zoom by they did. When the caravane started, we were treated to such a sight. Amazing, cartoony, funny, and weird is how I'd describe it.

LCL is a bank. This is their contingent.

Then come the event sponsors. As each sponsor passed, we'd hear announcements and advertising from their loud speakers. The people working in the caravane threw stuff to the spectators on the side of the road. We had quite a little collection of key chains, hats, magnets, and pouches of cookies and other food products when it was all over. We called it "crap." We wanted them to throw crap at us. And they did.

More of the LCL parade. Banks have a lot of money to spend on this stuff.

Lest you get the wrong idea, this was not a slow parade. These vehicles were moving by us very fast, probably at about 40mph. There was a gendarme stationed at the end of the road we were on to keep us from venturing out into the traffic. I was amazed at how fast they passed by. That's why many of these photos have some blur in them. Speed.

Mickey Mouse!

In between the sponsors there were often more official looking cars or motorcycles and some vehicles with the television logos on them. We couldn't figure out what their purpose might be other than having fun. Everybody waved. I'll stop writing now and let you see what we saw. As usual, click on any of the pictures to see them bigger.

Several cars advertising laundry detergent. Okay...

The car manufacturer Skoda is a huge sponsor of the Tour de France.

This company makes sweet syrups that you add to bubbly water for a refreshing drink.

I don't remember what the ducks were advertising... I found out: a newspaper called Aujourd'hui en France (Today in France).

This rooster is crowing for a brand of cookie.

Vittel, the bottled water people, had several of these strange things going by.

After the caravane had finished, we still had more than an hour to wait for the cyclists. Some of us walked back up to the house for a bathroom break and to get some more wine and snacks for the big show.


  1. I wonder if people would pay to see those monstrosities go by?

  2. I love a parade and this one is nifty. I do wonder if the participants get bored doing it so many days though.

    Save the crap you gathered. It will be good treasure to put in a geocache. We will need to do a little geocaching in August.

  3. I can't wait until we meet you one day. My kids will be so happy to "throw crap at you". They'll love you forever for that. m.

  4. Cool post. Times change. The "caravan" was not quite so elaborate when we watched the Tour de France as kids. Some of these floats are pretty extreme, aren't they. There was always "crap" being tossed at spectators, though. That, at least, has not changed! Veronique aka French Girl in Seattle

  5. lulu from Delmar11 July, 2011 16:32

    LOVE, LOVE, LOVE all the cars and animals. What a great time you had. The fact that they were whizzing by made it even funnier. Great pictures!

  6. Hilarious! Everything's "infotainment," as Mitch says. It can never JUST be about the sporting event, can it? Having said that, though, the floats are pretty fun.

  7. All we have here is the U.S. is the Oscar Mayer weinermobile. HA

  8. St. Michel makes a butter cookie that I have loved for many years.

  9. Hilarious. I wonder if they do the same for the Giro and Vuelta.

  10. chm, probably not. I sure wouldn't.

    evelyn, I know. They smile and everything. Maybe they take turns and don't have to do it every day?

    mark, uh-oh.

    veronique, they do get to be a little elaborate, but people seem to really like them.

    lulu, hey there! It was quite a sight to see!

    ginny, major advertising event, like most sports. :)

    mike, and I've never seen it in person!

    starman, I like their coconut cookies. Very tasty.

    peakvt, good question. I have no idea.

  11. They drive that weiner car around here often. A pure tourist attraction. There is nothing like a big weinie passing you on the road. HA

  12. Interesting. Those mini-cars are quite well done up as floats. We had the Olympic Torch Relay come through our part of the world in 2009. The sponsor floats travelling with that were huge trucks.


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