Each day as you travel the routes of the Tour de France you will find " spivs " stealing from the public !
YES STEALING ! What happens is this , you are cycling or driving down the TDF route and usually at a corner or " halt" sign there will be two or three guys with a box in one hand and a small french flag in the other . As you are going slowly , since there is a queue created by these mongrells they will demand you buy one of their flags and nag on at you if you are french that " you are not patriotic " if you refuse; should you be a visitor then the monies are going to a " charity ( yes their pocket ) so you are a cheapskate if you refuse ! Generally you need to rev your motor or keep moving so they get out of your face . Of course you will see them again the next day and the next !
"Georgethecyclist.blogspot " has many stories to relate from over the years about what he has seen since he gets to sit and observe occasionally . After finding him and Vince on the road today i saw a grandfather with three young children , he had been fleeced ! Mongrells stopped and gave one flag to a girl then asked if they would like "nougat ", of course the children did and so they gave the girls the nougat and DEMANDED 10 euros from the man , he wanted to give it back but they would not leave without the money but by now the children were in tears !
Operating so early in the day they surround a village and canvass the shops and homes and control the traffic and the authorities are presently " powerless " to prevent this behaviour ! George will tell you that they have swerved in front of him causing him to run off the road on occasion , whether this is deliberate or in the attempt to canvass " donations " from the unsuspecting public they stop without thought for others he is not sure ! As regards myself when i am on the bike i stand up and pedal harder thus they get the message and get clear , of course there is occasion when i have had to avoid hitting one of them since they work in gangs from a variety of station wagons or people carriers .
In past years i have gone to the nearest Gendarmerie and reported their location but there is a reluctance to act since there are more important things to be done whilst the TDF is in the area . How many more Grandfathers have to be coersed into parting with their pension monies before this pestelence is eradicated . TDF officials are aware of this problem just as they are aware of the " gangs " that prey on the cyclists careless enough to leave their bikes unattended and with removable items . Locked bikes pose no problem as they carry " bolt cutters " and these are effective at solving that nuisance !
Time marches on and more riding to be done , thanks to Laurent in Nouans les fontaines and some Aussies living in this village i was able to overcome the problem of another closed Library (biblioteke )!
Since arriving in Chateauroux i have come across one of the many " Commandant rank officers of the CRS " and in my poor french explained this situation . Should he take the time to look at this blog post after "googling " for " skippydetour " he will see that this is a blight on the " honor of FRANCE "! Just why the authorities have known the problem but not acted remains a mystery to all .