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98th Tour de France 2011 – 3 stages in The Vendée - Al Fresco Holidays

2011 sees the Grand Start of the Tour de France in The Vendée. This year 3 stages of the race will take place in this region.

Stage 1 – Saturday 2nd July: THE PASSAGE DU GOIS to MONT DES ALOUETTES – The 180km stage begins at sea-level, at Fromentine (the Barre-de-Monts), finishes at the famous mills of Bocage, which is the heart of the Vendee, with peaks of 232m. This leg allows the endurance cyclists to battle with the sprinters for the first yellow jersey of the competition.

Stage 2 – Sunday 3rd July : LES ESSARTS – teams compete on a 23km circuit against the clock. Being in teams, this is a new event. Passing Boulogne (not the port!) and La Merlatiere on the west coast of Essarts, this stage takes in the principal flat and straight routes in the Vendée Bocage.

Stage 3 – Monday 4th July : OLONNE SUR MER. This stage departs from Olonne-sur-Mer, heading in a northerly direction for 80km, when the cyclists will leave the Vendée .

But what about those refreshments to take with you to watch the Tour de France. Remember – if you are REALLY interested in watching the cyclists, watch TV afterwards. Wherever you are, you will only get a fleeting glimpse of the riders as they whizz past. But it’s the whole atmosphere you need to experience. The French are passionate about their cycling race – and of course, if they can be in the right place at the right time, they will do it in style. Join them! Enjoy “the Caravan”. Locate your best viewing spot about 2 hours before the event, erect your table and fold-up chairs, or spread your picnic mat. Empty your picnic basket and feast on the country bread, local cheeses – perhaps try the local goat’s cheese – “Trois Cornes De Vendee”. And of course, a local wine such as Pinot Noir, or Gamay. For more information on choosing the best wine to accompany your repas, why not read what our resident wine expert, Simon, recommends? See his blogfor more details.

And don’t forget the children. They’ll have a whale of a time watching the floats and catching the freebies thrown out by the “caravan” of passing cars, lorries, motor-bikes etc. There are so many vehicles that it takes about an hour to pass. No time to get bored! And after the whole event, while enjoying another glass of wine, back at the ranch, (or should I say your luxury Al Fresco mobile home), without the worry of driving, you can share your experiences with your neighbours. You could always invite the reps round as well!

Dates for your diary

Wednesday 29th June: Opening of the reception centre and press centre at Les Herbiers, in the Etenduère sports complex.

Thursday 30th June: Presentation of the Tour de France 2011 teams at Le Puy du Fou

Saturday 2nd July: First stage, Passage du Gois – Mont des Alouettes, 180 km

Sunday 3rd July: Second stage, Les Essarts, Team time-trial, 23 km

Monday 4th July: Third stage starts in Olonne-sur-Mer

Click here to download a poster of the route-map.

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