As promised, here are some photos from le Tour de France during the stage at Le Grand Bornand and the time trial in Annecy the following day. As you can see, Le Grand Bornand was far less crowded than Annecy, which hasn’t seen the tour for fifty years. Apart from the photos below of the floats, a bed drove past, along with some fire engines branded as a bottles of water, spraying people along the way. There was also a giant washing machine, giant sweets bags, giant race horses and various other giant things. The same grappling for cheap freebies continued in Annecy where a lycra cycling t-shirt freebie that landed on my friend’s camera was swiftly nabbed by the woman in front of us who showed no guilt despite my gasp of disbelief. Neither of us wanted it, but I’m not sure she did either — apart from it being a freebie and therefore worth A Lot Of Money.
The atmosphere in Annecy seemed far more electric than in Le Grand Bornand; I guess that was from the bigger crowds and the knowledge that the competitors would be zooming past all day long instead of within twenty minutes. Most people were sporting a freebie hat (including myself) or some other free object, along with some way of identifying their nationality. Me, I wore my Australian flag like a cape, as did many other Aussies. Us Aussies are a friendly bunch even when we don’t know each other. In Le Grand Bornand, a family of travelling Aussies saw my flag (dangling over a road sign) and sought me out for a chat. Then later in Annecy, I heard: “Oi Aussie!” When I looked around, a woman in green and gold (Australian sport colours) was waving madly to me. I waved back. We then had the following conversation — from opposite sides of a very wide road:
Her: “Are you on the bus trip?”
Me: “Um, no. I live here.”
Her: “You live here? Wow you’re lucky!”
Me: “Yep.” (Now trying to catch up to my friends who had kept walking.)
Her: “So, how’s it going anyway?” (That’s Australian for how are you.)
Now, I’m pretty sure that only a fellow Aussie would yell to a complete stranger from across a road to ask how that stranger is. Having not lived in Australia for almost ten years, I was at first surprised by the question which I answered and smiled. But within a few minutes, I was feeling that lovely glow of camaraderie that Australians so often offer each other. While the tangible me caught up with my friends, the Aussie me imagined crossing the road to join the Aussie, buying her a beer, introducing her to all my friends, having a long chat about sport, and chanting “Aussie Aussie Aussie! Oi Oi Oi!” with her. Maybe at the next Tour de France.