Yes the Official Tour de France is underway for 2006 – and unfortunately overshadowed by drug scandals and the withdrawal of most of the main contenders from last year. To be fair though, this is not a particularly French problem, but as the Tour de France is the biggest cycling event in the world, it does focus attention.
But then not everyone is keen on the Tour de France and the accompanying ballyhoo – the best thing to do is to follow it a few days later and enjoy some of the places the pass through in rather more peace and tranquility.
The Tour starts this year in Strasbourg, and on Sunday 2 July it passes through the northern part of the Alsace vineyard. Good cycling territory being quite hilly – and hence good for vines. Many of the villages are typically picture-book Alsatian – timber framed buildings with alpine roofs – really very attractive. The best wines tend to be a bit further south (around Riquewihr, Colmar) although Barr and Bergheim have some top producers. Our recommendation is Emile Boeckel at Mittelbergheim, just south of the Tour route.
The other Tour de France underway is the Tour de France à Voile – the sailing Tour de France which cast off in Dunkerque and will head for Saint-Quay Portrieux – Côtes d’Armor (Brittany) by the weekend of 8/9 July 2006 by way of Dieppe and Le Havre – for more info see www.tourvoile.fr