Well perhaps if you’d come prepared with a waterproof poncho, some wellies and a lightning rod you would’ve been!
We flew out to Geneva on Friday to see the tour de france for our first viewing while it was on its home soil. We’d seen it a couple of years ago when it came to Yorkshire and really enjoyed it. When the opportunity presented itself for us to go to France to see it we were both quite excited by the idea.
The tour was passing through the village of Samoens on its second last leg and we were invited to stay with Fred and Barbara in their daughter Cathy’s apartment there. We arrived on Friday evening – it is a lovely apartment with a great balcony from where we could enjoy our meals while admiring the views of the alpine countryside. Our bedroom was super dark and quiet with its own shower and bathroom. We are really thankful that Cathy was happy for us to stay there in her absence and also very grateful for our hosts Fred and Barbara’s company and local knowledge.
On Saturday morning we caught up over breakfast and then headed into the village of Samoens. It was about a 45 minute walk into the village from the apartment and although the race was going through the village later in the afternoon, we headed in early to do some shopping in the little “oldy worldy” shops and also to enjoy crepes for our lunch. It was quite busy when we first arrived but then it got quieter as a lot of people headed up the hill to position themselves to see the racers climbing out of the village.
After lunch we found a good position along the route to watch the caravan come through. We were quite successful with our caravan freebies – although 5 twinkies was a bit of an unusual thing to have thrown at you while standing on the side of a road! We didn’t get any of the hats or t-shirts that we saw some people getting (although I did have a hat in my hand until one of the locals decided to snatch it off me – I had been warned about this type of behaviour)! It was lovely and sunny while we were watching the caravan come through but shortly afterwards the dark clouds rolled in and the thunder and lightning started. Wow – good thing we had a little barn to shelter by while the worst of it passed.
By the time the cyclists came through it was just raining lightly. The riders were split into a few groups with the main peleton about 4 minutes behind the leaders. This gave me a few opportunities to get pictures of the riders. I was standing so close to the road I could have reached out and touched the peleton – I immediately sensed the concentration and intensity of the riders. This definitely wasn’t a bunch of guys out to have fun on their bikes for the afternoon! After they’d passed us, we could hear the crowds continuing their support as the cyclists rose up out of the village. Although it wasn’t the sunny day that we had when we watched the race back in Yorkshire, it made for a very memorable experience which although similar to when we saw le tour in Yorkshire yet so very, very different!
That evening we headed back into town for dinner at a local restaurant, Au relais septimontain. I sampled a local dish called tartiflette. It’s a kind of cheesy, hot dish with potatoes and bacon – very rich indeed but nice enough that I bought a special tartiflette dish and recipe to make it myself at home.
On Sunday we went for a walk at Sixt Fer a Cheval which is a beautiful alpine valley neighbouring Chamonix. The valley was surrounding by a horseshoe of mountains with a river running through it. It was quite busy with a lot of people in the area to see the race the previous day. We walked about 7 miles stopping along the way for an ice cream at a little cafe. Once we’d finished the walk, we had a picnic in the shade by the camper van – it was very warm when the sun was out! – and then another walk around the shops in Samoens including some bread and sausage for dinner. Dinner was back at the apartment. The rain had come in by this point but it was still warm so we ate and watched the rain fall under the cover of the balcony.
We left for home on Monday afternoon after a little browse in a “bric a brac” shop (“bric a broc” in French), a drink by an alpine lake and lunch back at the apartment on the balcony.
Thanks so much to our hosts for being great company and tour guides and also to Cathy for letting us stay in such a fabulous place. A very memorable weekend indeed.