Saturday, July 18, 2009

le Tour de France and Nuclear Power in France

The high-definition TV coverage of le Tour de France bicycle race on the Versus network is startlingly wonderful. I've been watching it every day. The image to the left shows the routes of the twenty-one stages.

Stage 11, in central France from VATAN to SAINT-FARGEAU ran quite near where I bicycled during a bike-barge trip with a group from The Villages bicycle club back in 2007 . It was great seeing the competitors cycling through two towns our group biked a couple years ago (Pouilly-sur-Loire and Saint-Fargeau).

There seems to be something missing from the TV coverage, however. When we bicycled along the Loire River Valley back in 2007, we often saw the cooling towers of one or two nuclear power plants in the distance.

Indeed, stage 11 of le Tour de France passed near the nuclear power plant at Belleville that I highlighted in this Blog posting.

The lower image shows the many nuclear power plants in France, indicated by stars.

There are many plants quite close to several of le Tour de France stages but I do not remember seeing any of them featured in the TV coverage.

The coverage included aerial images from a helicopter as well as ground-level, and they often described castles and towers and other scenic features. It would be totally appropriate to show a nuclear power plant or two safely generating carbon-free electricity.

Of course, I have not watched every minute of the race and I may have missed an image or two of nuclear power plants. On the other hand it is possible they have purposely ignored the plethora of nuclear power plants which supply some 80% of electric power in France. That is a pity because nuclear power offers a carbon-neutral alternative to fossil fuel powered plants.

Ther are still several stages to go and I hope Versus will take the time to show the audience how France has exploited "green" nuclear power to great advantage.

Ira Glickstein


joel said...

You're taking me down memory lane. We lived in Orleans not far from the Chinon nuclear plants and others that dot the Loire. We've watched the Tour se France go by at various places in the mountains. Once it went right past our campground near Besonçon and another time past our hotel in the Pyrenees. Ah, for the good old days pre-9/11. Call me paranoid, but I think that the lack of images of the nuclear plants is purposeful. -Joel

Ira Glickstein said...

Joel wrote "Call me paranoid, but I think that the lack of images of the nuclear plants is purposeful." Even if we're not paranoid, it seems everyone is against us proponents of nuclear power:^)

Good to hear your fond memories of living in France. My impressions of France, based on four short visits between 1984 and 2007, have been very positive.

Ira Glickstein