Tour de France 2015 and Château de Gudanes

Le Tour de France 2016 kicked off in Mont St Michel on Saturday, 2nd July for a month-long cycling race, where it will conclude in Paris on Sunday, 24th July. The 21 stages (with 2 days off) will take professional cyclists in teams of nine through France, Spain (Catalunya), Andorra, and Switzerland.

My first Tour de France experience was last summer. I am very picky when it comes to sports and generally do not find people cycling terribly exciting to watch. Although my opinion has not changed, I have to say that watching le Tour de France in person is worth the experience! Getting to see the cyclists so close to me, preserving in blazing heat and pouring rain up and down the mountain blew me away.

My beau and I watched Stage 12 at Les Cabannes in the south of France. It was a very hot day and as we walked to and hiked up Plateau de Beille for two hours, all I could think was, ‘Can it please rain?’

Les Cabannes

Les Cabannes. I assure you this place was full!

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This way up to the mountain!

The view from Plateau de Beille

The view from Plateau de Beille

Well, this lady had her wish because the thunder boomed and the raindrops came…

Only the refreshing raindrops turned into cold buckets of water and soon we were soaked to the bone and shivering. I then longed for the sun to come out again to dry us.  With 7-8km left to the top, the first cyclist passed us in the pouring rain…

… however, it was this cyclist, Joaquim “Purito” Rodriguez, who ended up winning stage 12:

After the first few cyclists passed us in a blink, we decided to make our way down, stopping every now and then to applaud the cyclists still making their way up. I wonder if our cheering and clapping gave them an energy boost. We were so proud of all of them.

Tour de France cyclists

British cyclist, Chris Froome, in yellow, a two-time winner of the Tour de France (2013, 2015) and a favourite this year.

All I had to protect me from the sun and rain was my straw boater and a free green cap that I used to protect the crown of the hat. Funny enough, that’s exactly how my beau and I were able to spot me on TV!

Caught on TV!

Caught on TV!

Of course, it was only as we were near the bottom of the mountain again when the sun came out. The cyclists whizzed past us and I’m sure everyone could not wait to go home and wash off the dirt!

Château de Gudanes

One of the chateaus that the Tour passed by was Château de Gudanes. In this footage on their Instagram page, you can see the château in the background.

Château de Gudanes

Château de Gudanes in July 2015

Château de Gudanes is a formerly abandoned mid-18th Century chateau in the Chateau-Verdun village in the south of France. ‘Le Roi des Pyrénées’, the king of the Pyrenees, Louis Gaspard de Sales, Marquis de Gudanes, commissioned the chateau in 1745. The architect of the chateau was Ange-Jacques Gabriel, who later designed the Petit Trianon at Versailles. The chateau changed owners as a result of the French Revolution and a generation ‘dying out’. For many years, the chateau was neglected and became dilapidated. Yet there was hope for this chateau when, in 2013, it was bought by an Australian couple who then endeavoured to lovingly restore the chateau. Their hope for the chateau is that it will be “a place to simply rest, breathe and enjoy the calm.” The Instagram page and website is full of beautiful before and after photos. Who knows, maybe I shall have the opportunity to visit inside someday. 🙂

On another note, congratulations to the hose of the UEFA European Championship 2016: France! Not the result I was hoping for but that’s life! Bonne chance, les Bleus!