Every July, the Tour of France road cycling race brings millions of people to the roadside in France and often, in neighboring countries as well because the race may visit other countries.
Here is the village of Mauleon-Barousse on the lower slopes of the Pyrenees mountains. It is an idyllic, peaceful village, but when the Tour de France race goes through the village, thousands of spectators arrive to watch the event.
Before the actual race arrives to the village, hundreds of cyclists ascend the same mountain top (Port de Bales) as the professionals will do. The road was closed from cars early in the morning, so the castle of Mauleon-Barousse only sees cyclists and race officials’ vehicles.
Two-three hours before the actual race, there is some fun. A caravan featuring all kinds of vehicles, touting race sponsors’ products, drives through the village. It is an exciting event. Sample products are thrown to spectators who are quick to catch as many as they can. Children may forget the rules and dive onto the road. The caravan swiftly moves on, but many of the products handed out are quite useful small things, like window shades, caps, hooks, or even food.
After the caravan, it is the last opportunity to find the absolutely best place to watch the race.
Peloton, the main group of the race exits the village and starts the 19 km climb to Port de Bales.
After the race, it is time for some deep analysis in the cafes and restaurants of the village.