Lourdes is Las Vegas for Catholics. It is where men wear hoodies with "Don’t Panic. Just Pray" written on the back. It is the home of shops full of statues of the Virgin Mary in all sorts of sizes. It is where people come seeking miracles and wonder. Last Friday, it was where the Tour de France began its 19th stage. The "village depart" — the hospitality village that is at the start of each stage of the Tour — had the Notre-Dame de Lourdes Sanctuary as a spectacular backdrop, watching over those having a splash of the local rose, a wafer-thin slice of the black pork of Bigorre, a small basket of chicken and chips, a sneaky handful of Haribo sweets and the chance to inhale the heady atmosphere of the Grand Boucle. Sponsors, fans, priests, nuns, riders, organisers and media clicking their necks, cracking their fingers in preparation for one of the hardest days of the 2018 Tour de France. Sadly, I did not see or get to taste the spit cake, Pailhasson chocolates, Malespine sweets, Pyren...

BL Premium

This article is reserved for our subscribers.

A subscription helps you enjoy the best of our business content every day along with benefits such as exclusive Financial Times articles, Morningstar financial data, and digital access to the Sunday Times and Times Select.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.



Questions or problems? Email helpdesk@businesslive.co.za or call 0860 52 52 00.