Huy - LeTour de France

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No relief from the heat yet. The Aussies on the Vlinder have left to cool down in Scotland.

We decided to endure the heat and cruise to Huy where stage 3 of the Tour de France will finish -  a great opportunity to be part of the excitement! 

We found a nice yacht habour just south of Huy. From there it was an easy 2km cycle to the centre.

The old city of Huy with its cobblestoned lanes and lively squares was unexpectedly charming. Next to the river is the 955 year old church, Notre Dame, with a beautiful rosetta window. The town has a few museums, an old monastery and, of course, its very own citadel!

After strolling around town the first day, we spent most of the next in the local swimming pool to cool off. The temperatures were still in the mid-thirties.

Back at the harbour an English couple, Carolin and Bert, moored next to us. To make room for other boats our rears, or “sterns” more correctly, were quite close together and so none of us had to leave the comfort of our chairs to have a chat. Over the next two days we had quite a few interesting talks with the odd “Ricard” or "G&T" in hand.

As it turned out Bert came originally from Salford where Austin spent his younger years in between his parents pram shop and his granddad’s cobbler shop. Bert knew the area well! Furthermore we learned that Rugby League originated in Salford. Of course Bert had heard of Manly! “Aren’t they the top RL team?”he commented seriously. “ahem….Well, they won this week”.

As Bert and Carolin left for Liège the next day, we got ready for the Tour de France! 

We wanted to be in town for the parade of promotional floats proceeding the riders. As we cycled along the riverbank to town, Austin in his Wallaby shirt and I in my official “Tour de France” T-shirt, we were cheered and applauded by a group of about 40 little kids on a holiday camp outing. Just as if we were the real thing! Very cute! We waved graciously!

On arrival in town the atmosphere was amazing. 

There were kids diving for the goodies thrown from the promotional cars. There was music, dancing, champagne and Belgian beer stalls. Big television screens showed the Tour as it made its way from Anvers to Huy. The very funny commentary over loudspeakers encouraged big cheers from the crowds.


Unfortunately just 40kms from Huy there was a big crash with several injuries and withdrawals, an Aussie or two among them. The race was stopped and neutralised, but it didn’t take long for the first group of riders to arrive.


The stage ended at the dreaded “Mur de Huy”, a 19% - 20% climb! . We had stayed down in town as the “Mur” was jam-packed. But with front row places and fun people from Belgian and Columbia around us, who would complain! We were happy that the English favourite Christopher Froome was the winner, after the Aussie Rohan Dennis and German André Greipel had won stages 1 and 2 already.


Today as we were cruising from Huy towards Maastricht the whole Tour de France entourage drove passed us on their way from Liége to Namur. They hailed us over loudspeakers from the riverside road:” Salut Freshwater! You are going the wrong way! Go this way!"

 

© Austin Robinson 2019