Tour de Sablet

AKA Relais Americain

I’m afraid it isn’t a picture of our Tour of Sablet …but ….doesn’t it say everything about Bicycling and Provence?

This is a picture of a picture that hangs in Maison des Pelerins our vacation rental home in Sablet. Bike riding is a favorite past time of many, many visitors to Provence each year and it is quite a common site to see riders where ever you visit when in Provence.

A few weeks ago on a Sunday morning, the village of Roaix invited all future cycling champions to join them in the Roaixois VTT – a bike race on a 10kilometer circuit in and around the village. Although bicyclists on “les Velos Tout Terrain” (mountain bikes), are not an uncommon sight in any part of Provence, and this is certainly true of Sablet in early August, especially when the village hosts its own VTT race called the Relais Americain.

So …. move over Lance Armstrong, our future Tour de France riders are on their way!

Ready .. Set .. and they’re off!

On a warm Sunday afternoon at the beginning of August, the teams line up at the Place de la Croix and wait for the signal to start.

Rounding the corner of Rue de l’Eglise

As the race starts, and the riders head out around the village, beginning the race on the Rue des Barrys – past the Fountain and up to Grande Rue, then climbing the steep Rue de l’Eglise.

Through Place de l’Eglise

.. Past the Church ..

Along the narrow passage between very old village houses to the front of the Eglise St. Nazaire………

Yes .. they are riding down the stone steps!

…….. then down a stairway of approximately twenty-five steps that connect Place de l’Eglise back to Grande Rue! Back out through the Petit Portail (which connects Grande Rue to the Boulevard des Remparts and the main square, then a tour of the (Boulevard des Remparts (the road that follows the Remparts) and out into the newer part of the village – riding through every neighborhood.

… and back to the Village Square

In every part of the village, from the beginning to the end, in the smallest of Ruelles and the main village square, Sabletains and visitors gather to cheer on the riders. The race directors and commentator are right there bringing everyone the most up to the minute information. You will see many “voisins” (neighbors), set up chairs and tables in front of their houses to enjoy the race with a cool drink, as do the many patrons of the Cafe des Sports in the village square. It folds in beautifully as one of the daytime activities that take place during the five day long Fete Votive, and gets everyone involved – whether you are a bike riding enthusiast or not!

The video below shows a little bit of the race and some of the hurdles that the riders face – with great fun and good spirit – the spectators are always helpful with their encouraging cheers of, “allez! allez! allez!”

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