It’s inconceivable how the French stay thin. Every meal felt like an orgy of whole-cream dairy, succulent grilled meats (with plenty of duck), and bread, bread, and more bread. It’s safe to say the Paleo Diet will never make it in this country. It became something of a joke—and point of pride—how much cheese we could consume in a day.
Stage 19 at Le Grand Bornand was the high-water mark. At lunch, when the waitress brought a skillet with a five-inch round of Reblochon, we passed it around to share. “Non, non, non, non, non,” she corrected in that inimitable stuffed-up-nose French way. Soon she reappeared with skillets for every person at the table and demonstrated how to use the tabletop grills to soften them: melt cheese, pour on bread and potatoes, stuff down throat. Fist-size servings of sorbet buried in heavy cream followed for dessert. And at dinner, there was not only chèvre on the salad and creamy custard for sweets, but in between came a cultured cheese called fromage blanc shaped into a form and served with a raspberry coulis. It’s not just about the cheese, of course, but about food that’s as memorable as the entire race—and riding each day that justifies loading up.