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Jul. 11, 2013
Tour de France Stage 12 - Fougeres to Tours
Blame an attractive high school French teacher and early exposure to the films of Francois Truffaut for Matt Walsh's francophile tendencies. Then later came bike racing and watching the grandest race of all, the Tour de France. So as a freelance writer, there’s pretty much no place he’d rather be than in France on the race routes of Le Tour. It’s always an adventure that goes full-gas.

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Let’s talk about lunch.

Lunch, Stage 10

The mid-day meal is perhaps a good way to understand the magnitude and beauty and joy of the Tour de France.

I’m not talking about a feed-zone bag that a rider grabs halfway through the stage, which in this case is from Fougeres to Tours and 218 kilometers that cut thought the middle of France on the way to the feared climbs of the Alps.

Not, I’m talking about a real lunch, cuisine, quelque chose de special.

It’s often said that the Tour de France is the grandest of grand tours. And if you ask for an explanation, a good place to start is lunch.

One of the things that elevates the Tour de France into the stratosphere of good things is that it’s not just the most demanding, most inspiring, most beautiful race on the calendar.

No, the enduring and defining thing about the Tour is that it’s bigger than who wins the yellow jersey or the daily stage or a green or white or polka dot jersey,

Stage 10 Lunch

The Tour transcends all that.

The Tour is the most astounding event because it is the grandest invitation of all. The chance to celebrate the race, the country and the way of life.

Remember that the Tour de Franc is 100% free, there’s no ticket and no credit card charge. Everyone joins the experience on the side of the road to witness the ultimate test of endurance, the staggering physical and mental challenge. The tour is misery to the nth degree and often transcendence.

But back to lunch.

Stage 10 Thumbs Up

Drive the race route around the noon hour in France and you will get a true sense of what the Tour means. Families create their own luxury boxes just a few feet off the road. They bring their tables and chairs and food and wine and a deep appreciation.

The story of the day is not who wins. It’s so much bigger because it’s about the atmosphere, the ambiance, the vibe, the welcome tout le monde. When I ask people what makes the Tour special, they don't name a favorite rider or team, they describe the feeling.

French families picnic with British families with Belgian families with American families -- whoever shares the excitment and that stretch of road. It’s a fete, a celebration of the region, the local cuisine, the local wine but mostly it’s a celebration of togetherness.

When I drove the race route today I wanted to take pictures of the roadside lunches so people could understand the attraction of Le Tour. People offered me a seat, a plate of food, a glass of wine, an invitation to join the grand day.

There are few things as rare and unique as the Tour de France and the power of the event is that grandness. Everyone want to partake -- and that of course means an extremely good lunch.

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Team Clif Bar, Tour

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We like getting our heart rates up, taking a big breath of fresh air, savoring delicious food. But we also love telling stories and here's where we type 'em up. (BTW, it works both ways; leave a comment—please and thank you.)

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