As I see scenes from this year's Tour de France, the memories come back. Our summer camp, which had rich offerings in languages, culture, art, and recreation, was run by The American School in Switzerland, and housed in the dorm-style accommodations of the Prieuré du Christ Roi, in a town called Uzès.
The Tour route for one July day ran right under the retaining wall separating the property from the street. I joined the camp counselors and kids waiting for the cyclists, but all I got to see were the endless promotional vehicles riding through. At least I got a nice tee-shirt and humongous fold-out map of the route for 1994. Then lunch was ready, and we adults did our best to get the kids to the table. Half-way through the meal, someone shouted "They're coming through." BOOM! Twenty-some kids leaped up at once and ran to the scene. Recognizing the futility of imposing discipline at this moment, we instructors got up slowly and ambled to the street. Ah, but it was all over.
So if you want to see a leg of the race, just remember: blink and you miss it. The competitors speed by in a cluster. That's it. Unless, perhaps, you secure a spot on a long up-hill grade.
But this reality of the Tour shouldn't stop you from going there, getting a glimpse of the race, and - most importantly - enjoying the scenery all around.
Two of this week's legs went through areas I visited that summer of '94: Nîmes and the Pont du Gard. One of my fondest memories was canoeing down the Gard river, finishing up at the famous three-tiered Roman aqueduct, passing right through its shadow, then walking across the structure and looking down at the turquoise water and people swimming and boating in it.
And so I present a small slideshow sampling that summer's delights. Enjoy!
Also, there are only two days left of the tour. You can find out more at the official Tour de France site.