Bastille Day – a day to celebrate extremes

You would have to say that executing the king of your country is somewhat extreme and today, in France, it is the day when the country celebrates that occasion. Well it was a long time ago – 1789 if our memory serves us correctly – some 14 years after the Americans kicked the Brits out of their colony.

Somewhat ironically it had been French support for the Americans which brought about the downfall of the French monarchy, for Louis would insist on sending money to the Americans to support the struggle against the Brits – anything to put a boot into the groin of the old enemy. Well the sad ending to this woeful tale is that it cost Louis his throne and his head – in not having any money to feed his people they revolted and the consequence is that today we can all have a holiday – God bless King Louis!

As well as getting rid of the monarchy the church in France also lost all its powers and one of the very sad after effects of that loss of power (and money) has been the neglect of some fabulous cathedrals and churches – left without maintenance to fall into disrepair. Perhaps the most startling example of this is Chartres – one of France’s premier cathedrals, some would argue its premier cathedral, which still stands resplendent when viewed from a distance but on arrival at the main doorway one is shocked to see the Madonna holding a headless infant Christ.

And what has all this got to do with extreme sports you may ask – well cycling of course and as we write this note some 171 cyclists, representing 30 nations are hurtling 194 kms between Limoges and Issoudun in the 10th stage of Le Tour de France – quite obvious when you think about it!!

Not surprisingly it is the French who are the most numerous in the race, with 41 cyclists who started the race. Next comes the Spanish, Germans, Italians, Belgians, Holland, Russia, USA, Australia, Great Britain, Denmark, Luxembourg and Switzerland – the balance of nations represented with just one or two participants includes – Austria, Belarus, Colombia, Japan, Norway, New Zealand, Portugal, Ukraine, Canada, Finland, Ireland, Kazakhstan, Poland, Chech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia and Sweden.

But at the moment the yellow jersey is worn by an Italian – one Rinaldo Nocentini – still a long way to go – bon courage!

So is that what the French Revolution has left us with – no of course not – there are many, many things that are truly wonderful and beautiful about this old and proud country. In the sporting world it is perhaps Le Tour de France for which it is best known but no doubt the organisers of Le Vendee Globe would argue with that statement – perhaps more people can watch Le Tour de France and without doubt thousands flock to the roadside to watch this extreme sport.

Take a look at some of the recent action  thanks to zoid0r:

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