Day 4 - 7/13/13 - Lyon & Tour de France

The goal of the day was to watch the Tour de France, with the race finish for that day ending in Lyon. What a marketing bonanza! About the hats, they are from Cochonou, a company that makes dry pork sausage and a sponsor of Le Tour.

The morning had us navigate our way from Paris to Lyon, check into the Axotel hotel, and set out to find the racecourse. Along the way, we spotted a peculiar sight: a pizza topped with a fried egg.

The tour finish area in Lyon was a sweltering, seemingly endless stretch, lined with barricades. The procession began with all the team support vehicles, followed by a vibrant “Caravan” of floats and balloons. This caravan will proceed city-to-city throughout France and neighboring countries for almost the entire month of July. A large number of Europeans take long summer vacations, and what better way to tour the country than follow the TDF.

We scored free checkerboard hats and shopped for swag, while Dad opted for a TDF hat, and Mom and Keira picked up T-shirts. We journeyed to the finish line, where a large screen displayed the race stage. Eager for a closer look, we moved up the course to witness the peloton pass by in real-time. The thrill was palpable.

The return journey was lengthy. We crossed the river on the hotel’s south side, passing a new museum under construction, named the Confluence. A detour led us to a mall and a massive Carrefour department store, where we indulged in chocolate, bread, crackers, and candles.

Despite the late hour, we hopped on a train to Old Town for dinner. At an outdoor table, we savored escargot, salmon tartar with horseradish, and sausage cooked in a bread loaf, all paired with red wine. A visit to a candy shop yielded sweet treats, including an egg-shaped gummy for Kenny.

Our night concluded at the Lyon Axotel, with its color-themed floors and accommodating staff. We settled into two rooms: Kenny and Keira upstairs, and Mom and Dad downstairs, reflecting on a day filled with unexpected delights.

Trains are the way to get around, 1 hr 56 minutes, versus 4 hours 48 minutes if we go by car. And then there is parking, that is why there are so many trains!

They had a number of VIP areas set up. There were several massive cafe-on-wheels, that travel with the tour plus exclusive street-side dining.

Each team had a support vehicle, and there were about 10 teams.

Many of the tour sponsors had a vehicle in the caravan. It was like a parade but they move by at a pretty good pace while dispensing trinkets and coupons. This one was selling natural gas.

We found a spot along the finishing stretch where we could also track the race on a large projection screen. We waved little American flags at the racers that would later decorate the graves of World War II soldiers near Cean.

Finally, the racers came ripping by, first this group of four, and then in bunches.

The support equipment required to produce an event like this is impressive, a dozen large and small trucks that travel daily with the tour.

We were hot and hungry, making this grocery store with it’s air conditioning inviting. Shopping by pictures was mostly how we got by, but Keira had a fighting chance with her four years of high school French, not to mention, this is an entire wall of chocolate.

We saw a number of impressive bike shops but this one took it to a new level. Put in a credit card, push B3, and the lime green bike gets pushed out onto the street!

Generally thought of as an industrial city, we found the old town area of Lyon delightful with narrow street-side dining.

In a daring display of culinary courage, we bravely battled a battalion of slippery snails, tangled with a tumultuous tower of twirly pasta, and wrestled with mysterious meatloaf morsels. Our gastronomic tour de force concluded with a chilly duel against formidable ice cream foes, all in the name of embracing our inner French gourmet. Bon appétit!

A few more goodies here. The very detailed road map I used when planning to find the train station and a hotel within walking distance. The close up map with Tour branding we picked up at the hotel when we checked in.