Le Birthday Tour
13-15 July, Le Chinaillon
I wanted to find a background with a suitably aerodynamic theme for my delightful birthday, Bastille Day and Tour de France weekend in the French Alps.
Starting lineup - 13 Australians, 1 Kiwi and 2 Americans. Mobilising 16 people from London and Geneva to the village of Le Chinaillon required months of military-style organisational skills. Just call me General Joyce.
Le huitieme etage - Le Chinaillon was gorgeous, nestled in a deep green valley and dotted with moo-ing cows clanging cowbells in the wind. The main town Le Grand Bornand was equally charming and filled with strange cow paraphernalia, including a lewd cow water fountain. Perfect sunshine, perfect mountains, wildflowers everywhere. Any moment I was going to start yodelling with joy.
Finishing line - Our traditional Savoyarde chalets Maigret and Clouseau were beautiful and enormous (6 couches and 2 kitchens!). Best of all - views of the Tour mountain pass of Col de la Colombiere, and then being able to duck inside to watch the rest of the Tour on excitable French television. Oh - and easy access to the publicity caravans throwing out useless tat (anyone for a Seafrance pen or a plastic blow-up baton?).
Carbo - loading - The unintentional goal of the weekend was never to be hungry. We tried every hard cheese sold at the local supermarket. Drank Moet. Sleepily nibbled on saucisson, pate, baguette, biscuits and chocolate whilst lounging in the sun. The patisserie fairy even dropped off a mound of croissants and pastries for breakfast.
Luckily no one was vegetarian or lactose intolerant, as Savoyard cuisine was characterised by lots of meat, cheese and more cheese. After the weekend I felt like a giant raclette (ie cheese the size of my head - see picture) had formed in my stomach.
King of the Mountain - Definitely not me. I did spend 2.5 hours going up and down the steepest, muddiest part of the mountain, in completely the wrong direction from the peak (distracted by the goat herd). Luckily the views were still amazing. After that bout of misguided mountain climbing, I quite enjoyed watching the lycra-clad riders sweat their way up and down the Col de la Colombiere in 30+ degree heat from the comfort of my cushioned chair. Also congratulated myself for choosing to eat ice-cream and pastries while strolling around Le Grand Bornand instead of tackling another mountain hike on Sunday.