Le Tour

France is a country I have actually been fortunate enough to see. I have visited Paris and Nice, a city in the south of the country. Both were beautiful, Paris with its sites and architecture and Nice with the blue Mediterranean. An aspect of France that would be interesting to witness is the Tour de France- an event well known to the world.

Le Tour is a staple of French culture and tradition that began in 1903 with 60 bicyclists (although the race finished with only 21). As the official website states, Le Tour has changed with France, lived through wars, and seen many years come and pass.

A bit of France’s history that I hope will soon pass is the treatment of the Roma people. France is currently deporting thousands of this minority back to Kosovo, a country with extremely high unemployment rates and almost nonexistent education. The French have been deeply criticized for this violation of human rights and I hope that the country will immediately change its actions. Check out Emily Harmon’s blog on the subject to learn more.

Despite this terrible current news, France is still a beautiful country and Le Tour is a worldwide event. The race takes place every year in July. The 2011 race will be the 98th race and will run from July 2nd to the 24th. The race is set up in different stages: 10 flat stages, 6 mountain stages, 3 medium mountain stages, 1 individual time-trial, and I team trial. In whole, the race is 3,471 kilometers.  Le Tour brings the French people together, as well as countries around the world rooting for their own racers. To celebrate France and really learn its culture, people, and landscape, I would love to experience Le Tour. Perhaps when I am studying in Spain next semester I could make a quick trip up to France in the summer to watch for a bit. My list just keeps growing and growing!

Check out the official website:

http://www.letour.fr/us/homepage_horscourseTDF.html

Laura Stoddard

Iowa UNA

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