Stage 5: Arras > Amiens

Is it Cav’s day today? His team-mate, Tony Martin, claimed the yellow jersey yesterday with a powerful finish, however I’m assuming Mark Cavendish doesn’t need any extra motivation to get a stage win. The undulating (there’s that word again!) 189.5km course offers no incentives for the climbers, but breakaways are likely. The sprinters will be hoping their teams are able to chase any escapees down before we all nod off after the 100th repetition of the 10km/1 minute rule-of-the-catch. I was hoping for a Degenkolb win last night; I see no reason to change my wishes for tonight.

Will there be cows? As far as I can ascertain, there are no breeds specific to the region, however the existence of a number of local cows milk cheeses suggests that we could see more of those dairy herds we’ve spotted over the past couple of stages.

1280px-Two_cattle_near_Wantastiquet_MountainImage: Jared Benedict

Today’s cheese is another in the Maroilles family: Coeur d’Arras. Like its cheesy siblings, it is a soft, washed-rind cheese. As suggested by its name, it is formed in the shape of a heart. It has a strong smell but a sweet aftertaste, and a beer from Northern France is the recommended match.


Perhaps this handy beer map will help you pick out something appropriate at your local. If you’re struggling, Gavroche – a bière de grade – comes from around these parts and is relatively easy to find. I think it would be okay with a washed rind cheese… I intend to find out, tonight! This brewery also does a beer called Du Moulin – perhaps you could raise a glass to Tom’s recovery.

I did get somewhat distracted while pottering around the internet gathering information for this post. Distracted by rats, specifically. The rat is the animal emblem of Arras and is celebrated in chocolate form by the confectioners of the town. Why the rat? Well…

First of all, the name of the city contains the animal (in French), and secondly, because there was always so much grain in the city, the rat was always very abundant here.

That’s all very well, but how does that explain the rat behind the arras in Hamlet? I didn’t have a chance to get to the library today to go down that particular ra(bbi)t hole, but I am intrigued.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *