The DH was in the caravan of the Tour de France … with Cochonou, the sauciflard rock star

He is an ancestor that no one would like to be saved in history. The advertising caravan, as it deals with this venerable lady who drains more than 150 vehicles, has been present at the Tour de France since 1930, but has been modernized while maintaining an old side that is part of its charm. For more than ninety years (pronounced ninety beyond Quiévrain anyway), the caravan preceded the convicts on the road and generated its share of fans, who only sell there. Almost 48% of spectators gather around the tour to see it. While some, young and old, are happy to see the floats parade, others hope to collect as many gifts distributed by the brands.

And if there’s one more popular than the others, it’s the Cochonou, the good sausage as we like it at home (that was just to give you the main music). Needless to say, the marketing idea of ​​combining the 2CV with its mythical look and red gingham fabric is great in its purest form … pig. And the brand of sausages and charcuterie is generous during the three weeks of the Tour de France, while being in tune with the times distributing mini dry sausages in recyclable packaging. More than 500,000 in the Grande Boucle anyway. When we talked about ancient charm and modernity …

the child’s dream

So when we were offered the go-ahead and spend a day in the Tour caravan, in a custom Cochonou 2CV, it was almost a childhood dream come true. Impossible to refuse. In addition, the peak of happiness, we were offered this past Thursday, during the stage between Binche and Longwy, the longest of this edition of the Grande Boucle, with its 220 kilometers.

A start in Binche already heralded a holiday. And it didn’t fail. It was already sporty to go to the appointment, to the caravan parking lot. Huge traffic jams from 8am around the start. The minutes went by, patience faded and the urge to join the stronger 2CV, we got out of the car to arrive just 45 minutes late for the meeting.

Seeing all these vehicles, these tanks in the parking lot, is a pleasure to behold. And then discovering the most beautiful, the 2CV Cochonou, is nothing but happiness. So we introduce ourselves and then we have to get ready and go to the briefing. Because it wouldn’t seem like it, to see them pass in front of our amazed eyes, but throwing a candy, in the caravan, from a 2CV thrown at almost full speed, you can’t improvise. There are safety rules to follow: not in the hands, on the floor and behind the spectators. Story that it does not occur to them to go on the road, while the vehicles parade. But hey, excited about the idea of ​​picking up the coveted Bob or the bag of dried sausages, some rush down the road. Fortunately, the drivers of the caravan have an experienced eye and give the steering wheel (but also the horn) needed when an intruder is noticed.

Before the day starts, we have time for a new privileged little tour in the caravan parking lot. Time to attend candy negotiations between hostesses and managers, but also a few minutes of impromptu outdoor disco. Just to test the sound and wake up the sleeping eyes, while you give the bintje to Binche (potato, do you have it?). We really get the impression that the advertising caravan is a family. Needless to say, they live together for three weeks and have long, beautiful days.

All in all, it’s time to get on stage and do a show. First, put on the safety harness (that’s fine, it’s like you’re making a tree), which is attached to one of the walls of the 2CV. Luckily, we enjoyed one of the rare limousine versions of the legendary vehicle, spacious and comfortable. After a light morning rain, there seems to be time; so we take off our sweater. Damien, the friendly 2CV rider, is on his 17th Tour de France. And it’s best to listen to his advice, we realized quite quickly: “Yeah, if you want, you can put on your hat, but you might be wearing it. Do you want to go without a sweater? Oh yeah, you’re hot!”

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70,000 people in Binche

But yes, we have heat, we want to go on stage, we want the little boy who sleeps in this big carcass to live his dream. First of all, we believe that we will attend a parade, in fact, at a moderate pace. But no, obviously. Hardly one starts thinking of giving him the vest. But the day really begins, we have to do show and please the 70,000 people who have met in Binche, at the great start of this 6th stage.

And we see it from the first moment, the colorful and numerous crowd shouting their joy at seeing the 2CV Cochonou, almost the highlight of the show. So yes, of course, we don’t recognize anyone in the crowd as far as the eye can see, in the same way that no one recognizes us. However, it gives us the impression of being the rock star of the sauciflard, acclaimed by viewers who are just waiting for a gesture from us. But we will have to wait a bit because it is not allowed to deliver from vehicles at first, you have to be patient. Meanwhile, carried away by the relaxed atmosphere of people shouting “Cochonou” and “saucissoooooooons” throughout the tour, the hostesses and administrators of the Cochonou vehicles ensure smiles.

Inventory management

The time has come for us to finally distribute the envelopes of the day. Because being in a Cochonou vehicle is not just about being a spectator of a party of happiness, it is also about handing out sausages. Remember the tips for throwing them away (“behind, on the floor, etc.”). But hey, without lying, surely the first drafts were not the best. And if a person has received it on the edge or on the thigh, do not take it from us. “Be careful, you’ll see, the stock is coming out fast”Damien whispers to us.

Damn, but he is still right, our pilot, who takes three weeks off to be present at the Tour. But when you see all these people happy and grateful when they receive a bag, you want to give it your all. The sauciflard rock star, we told you. You have to be right and save yourself a little, so that you don’t recharge during the stage. And when there is no more, well, there is no more. Therefore, we perfect the launch bags. We target people who are trying to get attention. The kids will definitely keep some wonderful memories of their day on the Tour, so we try to reinforce them. And then there are the little comedians too. Like the Borat on guard (which must have been very cold), although he did not have the necessary clothing, as Julian Alaphilippe pointed out in his time. Or the famous collectors who carry the umbrella in the caravan to better receive the treats, or even those who create a fake basketball hoop for the stewardesses and stewards to have fun trying to hit the target.

In any case, everything is done in a good mood, especially installed by Quentin who gives voice to the head of the 2CV and ensures the tempo. We believe that Cochonou and his vehicles, located in the middle of the caravan, are expected as the kings of the party. Cochonou signs are visible everywhere, all day long. There are fans of the brand. And the Bobs are the must, the hype. They are in great demand. Some are thrown between the vehicles to retrieve some but fortunately these are staggered and the drivers are experienced. The day passes and the good mood does not fade. We disappoint people on the bridges (no throwing on them) and try to please everyone. The Cochonou brand is very popular and some spectators, caravan enthusiasts, become friends with hostesses and administrators, giving them a small soda but above all a lot of human warmth.

The DH was in the caravan of the Tour de France ... with Cochonou, the sauciflard rock star
© FM

Memories and bruises

The long-awaited moment of the pee break arrives. You need to find the right place, not too exposed, and warn the other vehicles. It was done in a few moments. But beware, 4 minutes clock in hand. Because then you have to take the place in the caravan zigzagging between the vehicles, otherwise it is not allowed to distribute the sweets. Successful operation of the 22 caravans of the Cochonou family, thanks to which couples were formed. A real family that, if not present in Denmark, lives three weeks together.

The day continues at a frantic pace. The landscapes parade, magnificent, and smiles are always present. Thanks flow but stock decreases dramatically. We should have listened better to Damien, that’s for sure, so we distributed in moderation. Because everyone needs it. But we got there, somehow, making the most of the final climb to Longwy.

After the finish, it’s time to leave; the day passed quickly. Caravans still have a long way to go to get to their hotel. Beside us, we return home with beautiful images on our heads. And in the evening, we realize that Damien was right again: yes, we are moved casually and we have a few bruises. Still, we could take it again, with a handful of Cochonou sausages. And we admire even more the hostesses and administrators who offer the show for three weeks …

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