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ripening grapes in the Loire

ripening grapes in the Loire

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Paris to Nice via Beaujolais and Cotes du Rhone 5-12 Mar 06

Paris-Nice cycle race
A week-long mini-version of the Tour de France cycle race takes place between 5th and 12th March 2006 with the Paris-Nice race.This is a good early season test which may help to identify the potential successors to Lance Armstrong for the July Tour de France.
This year the tour has stages pass through the Beaujolais vineyards of Julienas and Regnie-Durette (69 Rhone, Rhone-Alpes) and the Cotes du Rhone Villages of Rasteau (84 Vaucluse, Provence) – other stages visiting SAINT-AMAND-MONTROND (18 Cher, Centre), ST-ETIENNE (42 Loire, Rhone-Alpes), AVIGNON (84 Vaucluse, Provence), DIGNE-LES-BAINS (04 Alpes de Haute-Provence, Provence).CANNES and of course NICE (06 Alpes-Maritimes, Provence)
You really do not have to be a cycling fan to enjoy the spectacle of a French race – the locals are very enthusiastic and tolerate the associated road closures, noise and chaos willingly, Watching the Tour de France has got us to parts of France we would never have seen or have stopped in – there is always a bit of a carnival atmosphere, and the locals are usually friendly. We tend to head for the smaller, quieter villages where the arrival of “le Tour” is a major event – so out will come the flags, the mayor and maybe a small band. The waiting around for the cyclists and their entourage to arrive gives you a chance to explore “la France profonde” which you might not otherwise do – and to have a picnic or even the odd glass of local wine – it’s all very French!

Meanwhile the details of the 2007 Tour de France start in London have been announced for 6-8 July 2007. Friday 6th July will see the celebratory launch; Saturday 7th July will be the “Prologue” which is a short 8km individual time trial from Whitehall to Buckingham Palace via the Houses of Parliament, St James’ Park and Hyde Park.Whilst Sunday will mark the first stage proper departing central London and heading east past the Tower of London out to Canterbury via Maidstone, Tonbridge Wells and Ashford. – Should be a great weekend!


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