A DIFFERENT Kind of Tour de France

Whatever you may think of Lance Armstrong, the Tour de France, which takes place every summer in July, is an absolutely grueling endurance test.  Three thousand, four hundred, ninety six kilometers…that’s 3,496 km! (2,173 mi), pedaled over 3 weeks, up mountains, down valleys, through small villages and across France…I am exhausted every time I watch it.  These men cycle all year in preparation for, what I would call the ultimate competition of strength and perseverance.  I watch with great enthusiasm as I learn the names of the individual cyclists, pick a favorite team, open my fridge and reach for a bottle of cold water as the thirsty, pedaling cyclists reach for theirs, held out to them by a team member standing along the road.

City Hall, Bagneres de Luchon, Summer 2012, end of Stage 16

Proud Sculpture…Le Tour de France Dans Les Pyrenees

But I want to talk about a different kind of Tour de France…the kind not relegated to elite athletes or needing months, nay, years of training.  I’m talking about the Tour de France centered in the wine country of southwestern France, sharing a border with Spain along the Pyrenees, from the Mediterranean to the Bay of Biscay…

THAT Tour de France!   Continue reading

Six weeks/One Carry-On Bag Results Are In!

The results of the ‘6-weeks, 1 carry-on bag challenge’  are about to be announced.  I just don’t want this to overshadow the results of the 1st Presidential debate, so please keep it in context.

Out of the challenge we have a clear winner and we have a bending of the rules ( So far it sounds Just like the Presidential debate!)

What we found is that it is very easy to go away for 6 weeks with only 1 carry-on piece of luggage (and some stealth packing).  Now that includes clothing and outerwear that took us from 107 degrees (!!) in Barcelona at the hottest, to about 35 degrees at the top of Pic du Midi.  And although we were “peaked” for only a few hours,

Sweater, Jacket, Shoes, Socks Required!

we were at other points in the mountains for days at a time where the daily temperature was about 50 degrees…so there was definitely ‘change of seasons’ clothing required.  I must admit that in the sauna-like conditions of Barcelona the heavy sweater and jacket seemed like a huge waste of valuable real estate; weeks later I was thankful for both.

Fran’s results:  I only had 1 article of clothing that was not worn during the trip, and since that was a very thin, small cardigan, it added no weight, or bulk.

BUT, Steven brought along an extra pair of pants and an extra pair of shorts…not worn…heavier and they take up FAR more room than my eensy cardigan, SO…I am declared the clear winner.  ( How do YOU spell competitive?)  Could I have gone with the smaller, European-sized suitcase?  Perhaps, but that brings us to the bending (dare I say breaking) of the packing rules.  And that is…

we bought wine along the way and had to check luggage coming home!  Yes, we broke our ‘No checked luggage’ rule because we were seduced by buying local wine at its source.

Buying Banyuls in Banyuls

Rule bent, but memories of Spain and France will come flowing back (literally) as we pop those corks.

C’mon Steve…that will Never fit in the suitcase!

Will we be able to stick to our rule next time?  Will we be so easily seduced again?  Will the US be able to pick a President without driving everyone crazy in the process?  All these important questions will no doubt be answered soon.





Call me before your next trip…your suitcase is WAY too big (You know who you are!)