Posts Tagged ‘La Planche des Belles Filles’

Due to my lack of good tagging, I’m not sure where in northeastern France this church door was located but who cares? It looks heavenly anywhere.

We stopped the car for this shot so I couldn’t do anything about the angle of the sun and its effect on my photo. The door’s hard to see but the rest looks pretty good.

We spotted this establishment on our way back from our wonderful day at a stage of the 2014 Tour de France, a stage that ended on the heart-taxing, back-breaking steepness of La Planche des Belles Filles. Imagine cycling at professional speed for 150 kilometers or so, then going steadily uphill for about 7k only to face a short section of 22-28 degrees where you need to be pushing hard to win the stage! It was hard enough walking all the distance. We noticed this bar-restaurant particularly because Bruno is our brother-in-law’s name. On a nice day it would be fun to sit outside eating and drinking.

A folk etymology, in contrast, holds that the mountain took its name from the time of the Thirty Years’ War. According to legend, young women from Plancher-les-Mines fled into the mountains to escape Swedish mercenaries as they feared being raped and massacred. Rather than surrender, they decided to commit suicide and jumped into a lake far below. One of the soldiers then took a board on which, with his dagger, he engraved an epitaph for the “beautiful girls”. A wooden statue, created by a local artist, is a reminder of the legend. Wikipedia

Very early tomorrow morning we’ll be out in the dark heading for California and our new grandson (and our daughter and son-in-law too naturally.) I’m not sure whether I’ll be posting or not but if not, you’ll know why not. 🙂

Thursday Doors 4/21/22

Today’s entry for Cee’s Oddball Photo Challenge comes to you all the way from France.  So pour a glass of wine (Burgundy, please); assemble a plate of pâté, Comté cheese, crusty bread and some slices of melon; turn on today’s stage of le Tour and get ready to say, “Mon Deiu!”


At the Tourist Office in Mélisey, this guy is dressed for le Tour, which will end at La Planche des Belles Filles on Monday.


Spotted in Beaune, outside the Dali exhibit.


Inside the Hospices de Beaune or Hôtel-Dieu de Beaune, a former charitable almshouse in Beaune, France, founded in 1443 by Nicolas Rolin, as a hospital for the poor.



Walk a mile in my shoes.

OK.  I can do that and when I’m done, I’ll understand you better.  But if you really want to understand even a small amount about what a rider on le Tour de France goes through, drive with us over a bit of the route they will ride during the 161.5 km on Monday’s stage 10 from Mulhouse to La Planche-des-Belles-Filles.

One of the stages this year is not far from Melisey where we’re staying and  four days prior, my s-i-l drove us over a large section of the route.  Some stages, or at least parts of them, take place on wide (relatively speaking) roads–flat, open areas where riders chat in the opening minutes and look fresh and happy.  Not so here.

We turn sharply off the main road onto a paved track that gradually becomes barely wider than the Land Rover.  Thick forest and undergrowth crowd both sides along the steep road, while in many places the right side drops precipitously, sometimes on the other side of a low, stone, moss-covered wall just the right height to pitch you over should your bike tire hit it.

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We spend much of our time shaking our heads and exclaiming incredulously, trying to imagine the hoopla of the Tour attempting to squeeze through here–lead cars, motorcycles, breakaway group (the easiest to get through with only a few riders), the crush of the peleton, the team cars and media.  We meet a TV truck followed by two riders shrouded in rain gear (did I mention it’s been raining all day/week?), looking less than trilled to be out checking the route along the “easy” way-downhill.  We try to imagine all this going uphill at racing pace and probably fail miserably.

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Green, lush beauty surrounds us, beauty that will go unseen and unnoticed by the laboring cyclists and entourage: flowers, rushing creeks, several waterfalls and quiet, although the latter will be gone on race day.

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Suddenly, we rejoin the main road at the 5K marker.  The road is wide(er), the pavement smooth.  But between here and the cloud-wrapped finish line at La Planche-des-Belles-Filles, the Plank of the Beautiful Girls, the grade veers between a “mere” 6% and 22%!!  And all this comes at the end of hours of racing and just under 157 km.

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Legends has it that during the Thirty Years War, the Swedish soldiers were raping and pillaging.  The girls of the area decided they would rather die than be raped and drowned themselves in the lake.  A soldier, possibly the captain, who had fallen in love with one of the girls, carved an epitaph for the them on a board (hence the “plank.)   No one will carved the name of the winner this Tour stage on a board, but his name will go down in Tour history.  Locals are pulling for Thibaut Pinot , not only a local but a young Turk of French cycling.

Enormous carving by a local artist of a bear holding one of "the beautiful girls"

Enormous carving by a local artist of a bear holding one of “the beautiful girls”

The empty spaces on race day will be crammed with fans, the two of us among them if all goes as planned.  One couple has already staked out a spot-in a small pull-off near the top, complete with camper, trailer and satellite dish.  We come away with a much deeper understanding of the stamina and mental attitude needed to compete at this level of the sport…as well as an inkling of why men would be driven to find ways to cheat, to make the ride just a bit easier, something that has been going in various ways since the Tour began.