After a good deal of research Helen and I chose Mummu for our Tour de France experience and we could not have chosen better. The Tour De Vins was a great mix of riding and culinary adventures like nothing we have ever experienced before. The attraction of this particular tour was that riders could experience the Tour and non riding partners could share the festival atmosphere as well as meals and wines carefully tailored by Mummu. The thing that seemed to separate Mummu from other tour operators was the personal touch. Marcel, Stuart and the crew have a deep understanding of the local culture and the race. It would be difficult for anyone to compete with Stuart’s 17 tours and Marcel’s obvious passion for the areas we travelled.
We arrived in Basel and met at the train station before heading towards our base at Les Jardin de Sophie in Xonrupt-Longemer in the Alsace region. While riders itched to get on the bike, we were all happily distracted by wine and local fare from Caveau Humbrecht, a local family winery in existence since 1619. On arrival at the hotel, we took an evening ride to stretch travel weary legs after setting up bikes (thanks again Cedric for the loan of the pedals!) and then dinner. The stars of our stay at Les Jardins de Sophie, apart from the riding, were the wine and the award-winning restaurant.
The beauty of the group was its size. Sixteen was a nice group mixing largely Australians with a half dozen from the US. Conversations were easy and extended to more wine each night on the terrace. (Or what the French unfortunately pronounced as TerrASS which was inexplicably funnier at the time)
Our first day was like waking up in an SBS transmission (sans Gabrielle Gate). The kilometres flew by and the conversation was punctuated by expressions of disbelief at being on the course. Smiles were a permanent fixture. We arrived at Nancy to get our first look at the riders, the bizarre ‘Caravane’ (a procession of floats travelling at high speeds, promoting everything from Haribo bears to nursing homes and flinging loot such as bags of lollies, caps, key rings at spectators). The highlight of Day 2 for spectators was the Relais Etape (an official hospitality lunch on the course). More good wine and food than even Australians could manage. The day ended with the Maître de comprehensively singing, in true French nightclub style, his personal thanks to all those who had assisted on the day including those responsible for the toilets. A good time was had by all (with the possible exception of Liam and Stuart who were driving us home.)
We arrived back at the hotel exhausted but buzzing. The next day followed the same amazing formula. Riding ahead of the race to enthusiastic (and plainly generous) local crowds.
Our biggest challenge was La Planche de Belles Filles on the third day. After some rolling hills we hit a climb that few of us would choose to do at home. A 5.5 km categorised climb together with a final 1 km gravel section at 20% to the finish. It was personally staggering how much the potential embarrassment of stopping to walk in front of hundreds of cycling fans drove me to the top. Thanks again Emily for the encouragement you gave me as you flew past on your third summit!
Again, we saw the race finish from high atop the official stand. It is hard to take in having the best seat in the house for one of the world’s premier sporting events and Marcel and Stuey made it all so easy.
On our final day Marcel and Stuey took us to the departure village where we literally rubbed shoulders with cycling stars too many to mention (and royalty including a car park bump into Phil Liggett). Topping off a packed hour or so was having a group photo with Peter Sagan.
If you are thinking of a Tour experience. There is only one choice. Mummu. Seriously.