Stage 5 of the Tour de France kicked off in the seaport town of Lorient. It’s easy to see why it’s a Stage town for the 12th time, as the race course passes by postcard-perfect white sand beaches with a backdrop of the Celtic Sea.
After a couple of quick startline shots, we headed for a couple of beaches just after the neutralized section. Not too far from here, the Gulf of Morbihan is filled with private islands owned by movie stars and fashion designers. My mind drifted… ‘McBeardy Island’ has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?
Looking out for potential photo spots, I spotted a building with an open second storey window that offered the potential of a good vantage. I wasn’t having much luck getting the attention of the occupants, but on closer inspection, I noticed smoke plumes drifting out the window and a distinctive fragrance in the air. I think they had other activities underway, none of which involved watching le Tour!
I gave up and drove on, finding a handy cement fence post on the roadside instead. It was a good opportunity to practice my balancing act as we watched the breakaway establish itself.
As we took the next exit from the race course, I could see a black press station wagon just up ahead. They made a left turn off my planned route, leaving me a little concerned. However, I decided to stick to my guns. Sure enough, they reappeared a little later, speeding past with another three press cars in tow.
Álvaro was getting twitchy feet on the accelerator wanting to chase after them, but I told him to take it easy, there was no reason to risk a fine on the highway (though truth be told I was starting to feel a little twitchy myself).
Our next photo spot was a seaside port. I could see a balcony above us which would be ideal, however, I wasn’t the only one to think so – there was already one photographer up there, and a couple more circling the building like sharks, looking for the intercom.
The others had a French photomoto driver with them who negotiated terms through the intercom, relaying the messages to us. “Only two photographers can come up” he said. I was third in line so I got cut, but then the moto driver went up too. What a stitch up!
More than a little annoyed, I tried to salvage the shot but ended up walking a long way from the car before I found one. By the time I made it back, all the other photographers’ cars had left. The way the Gendarme looked at her watch and grudgingly waved us past, telling us to hurry, the riders must have been very close.
Behold, Beardy’s bric-à-brac
We hurriedly pulled into the next town to set up. My frown was soon turned upside down when we scored our first piece of Tour De France bric-à-brac, a yellow arrow! I’ll be giving this, and a heap of other random Tour objets d'art, away soon to lucky Caravan readers. Stay tuned and get on board #beardysbricabrac - it’s a thing.
There was a beautiful shot down the main street with a church in the background, but weirdly, it was like a ghost town with almost no-one around. In fact, there were probably more photographers than spectators.