So there we were relaxing in our sleepy little village in Issel when all of a sudden there was the sound of helicopters whirring overhead and some frantic activity suddenly kicking off.
I thought for a second the relatives have finally tracked us down and we were going to have to give away some free holidays in the South of France. Only joking :-)
But no, we realised it was the 17th of July and the Rodez to Revel stage of the Tour de France must be rapidly approaching Revel and St Ferreol, which is surprisingly close as the crow flies hence the sound of helicopters.
We couldn't really participate because we were waiting for our next guests to arrive for the week. Plus of course there was always tomorrow and the junction at the Issel turn off between Revel and Castelnaudary, which was less than 5 minutes away. So we settled down again and decided to wait for 'demain'. We did of course watch the highlights on ITV4 and spent the time trying to spot all the landmarks we knew, quite successfully I might add as we know that road quite well.
So this morning we waited a little while, didn't want to rush off and be standing around for too many hours and we had seen the caravan before. If you haven't seen the caravan it is worth getting there early enough because it's quite the spectacle. We set off around 11.30a.m. for our little junction which was about an hour before the race was due to come through and got that nice picture of Issel on the way. How relaxed were we.
It wasn't quite as crowded as we remembered the last time we went, but someone had put up a big sign saying 'Vive la Tour de France' and there was a nice little crowd gathering, some of which I have to say had no option because they had to wait for the road to open again, but the vast majority were there for the race and very excited. We met our local farmer who was with his family and we realised that this particular spot was a local knowledge gathering. Then we were quite impressed when we realised that we actually had some local knowledge!!
Anyway we settled down to wait for the cyclists to arrive and we knew we would get forewarning from the advance helicopters that circle the leaders filming proceedings, or so we thought.
Then I looked up and there were the leading pack with not a helicopter in sight. We nearly missed the whole thing due to being half asleep in the sun and enjoying the ambiance, we found out later that they don't really follow the very early stages of the race which was why the helicopters weren't in place.
The leaders soon whipped by and then the main pack came around the bend going hell for leather. I didn't really have time to pick out Lance Armstrong, so I was a bit gutted because that was one of my objectives when I went to watch. I wasn't really bothered that he is not doing too well this year, as far as I am concerned he is the man when it comes to the Tour De France and I just fancied spotting him.
The pack went by like an express train with a few cheers from the crowd, but it was nearly all over as quickly as it had begun and before we knew it we were watching the tail enders disappearing down the hill towards Peyrens the next little village. Well all except this guy that was all on his own at the back end of some of the cars carrying the spare bikes. Don't know what happened to him but I am guessing it wasn't a good day.
Now I have to admit my photography is not as sharp as I would have liked, they appeared and disappeared so quickly that I couldn't make up my mind whether to use landscape or sporting mode and was a bit slow getting the camera ready. So where normally I would say you can click on the photograph for a bigger picture, on this occasion I am a little hesitant, because I am pretty sure it won't do my reputation as a budding photographer much good.
Oh and I learned a little something today, as good the sound of the Tour De France rushing by is, I think the next time I go and watch I am going to pick an uphill section and give myself a fighting chance of seeing a bit more and sorting my camera out. You live and learn as they say.