This year's Tour de France bicycle race starts tomorrow, with the first stage beginning at the base of the iconic abbey of Mont-Saint-Michel, high up on its rocky island—from which bicycles are normally banned in the summer.
The island will only be affected on the first day of the race, but it's a bit of an irritant for the (very few) island residents and the (very many) people who work there in restaurants, shops and other tourist services. Local groups and cycling associations have called the choice hypocritical.
The ban was put in place last year, after a new bridge, reserved for shuttles, horse-drawn carriages and pedestrians, was opened. Authorities believe the bicycles, if allowed, would make life difficult for the hordes of summer visitors. The ban runs from May to September, and is in effect from 10 am to 6 pm.
Jean-Michel Blanchet, president of the local cycling association says they can understand a ban in July and August, but not the other months, saying “This is a problem for locals who go to work by bike and also for tourists on cycling holidays.” Some locals are expected to protest during the race beginning, but not to disrupt it.
Photos: Top, Mont-Saint-Michel from the bridge; below, the crowded main (and only) street on a busy August weekend.