A group of “stereotypical looking Frenchmen” are strolling through the center of Leeds sporting stripped sailor shirts and moustaches while the women are decorated with a string of onions around their necks. They’re all wearing berets, speak English and are happily looking for a pub.
“It is a French-themed party, not a mockery,” said one of the ladies decked out in onions. “We had croissants for breakfast and lunch should be Champagne, but we’ll also have a beer and enjoy the Tour spirit.”
“I am so excited that the Tour starts in England,” her cheering partner chipped in. “We’re all cyclists and we can see the cream of the sport here”. Followed by a unanimous, “Santé!” they cheer while toasting with English beer to the success of the French race.
Ripley in Yorkshire is a perfect English town with chimneys ready for Oliver Twist to climb. Perfectly tended lawns and a French flag on every second house just a few kilometres from the first stage finish and the road is already surrounded by hundreds of waiting fans.
They’re sitting on piled up bales of hay, eating chips, chatting and showing their support. Whenever a car passes by, the horns and chants rise up and the French gendarmes on motorcycles are greeted by a wave of “Bonjours!”
The locals are excited by the Old Lady’s visit. In the Boar’s Head pub a special French menu is being prepared, with reservations now impossible to secure. Tonight belongs to French cuisine, honoring Le Tour.
Text: Jan Hanzlík