The first stop of the day, after making a brief appearance at the start, was the Cote de Loucrup.
It was a nice little 2km, category 3 climb. It was all fairly quiet until the last 500m where people were getting into the festivities near a small village at the top.
We pulled up next to a family who had settled in for a picnic. We were promptly offered some home-made apple cake. Upon sampling, I was sure the apples had been soaking in liqueur. It was delicious.
I demolished a sizeable wedge before pacing out the last section of the climb, looking for a spot.
I stumbled across a beautifully restored Citroën Méhari - the off-road version of the popular 2CV. The couple that owned it were happy to pose for a photo with their pride and joy.
I marvelled at the car with the owner as he pointed out details in French. I politely nodded as if I knew something about vintage Citroëns.
With the riders approaching, I took my position on the road side. There was a ditch behind me and, as they brushed past the lens, I had to fight the urge to step backwards or else I would take a spill.
The next location was the Col du Tourmalet. It was my first visit to the very famous mountian pass that has featured in the Tour de France over 80 times.
There was a good mix of fans, including plenty of Spaniards (being so close to the border). On the way up I stopped to photograph a road-side paella on the boil, and was quickly offered slices of Jamon cut from the leg.
The flavour was great but spoiled a little by the plain crackers that accompanied it. I’m becoming such a road-side foodie…
When we reached the summit it must still have been siesta time – with people sleeping in cars, on quad bikes or just on the side of the road.
There were also hundreds of campervans that must have been parked up for days to claim prime positions. This is just the start of the sheer volume of vans and spectators that will be clambering over the later stages of this Tour.
I also noted some very impressive constructions under the wheels of the campers – in the hope of a level night’s sleep.
There was much indecision amongst the photographers, as everyone tried to stake out the best spot.
One corner in particular was crowded with photographers, so I decided to get a couple of shots there and move on quickly.
When the riders did come into view the amount of spectators seemed to double – which came in handy as a team car stalled and couldn’t get started again.
Instead of the riders, it was cars these fans got to push today!
See beardy’s coverage of previous stages below.