Saint-Denis-de-l'Hôtel is a sleepy village on the right bank of the Loire, opposite Jargeau, not far from Orléans, in the heart of the Val de Loire region that was inscribed in 2000 on the list of Unesco World Heritage sites.
The population of the village is less than 3000, but they can boast of a fine velodrome, which was spruced up for this year's French track championships.
Yesterday, on that track, Jeannie Longo won her 59th national title: female points-race champion of France.
Jeannie—who lives on the outskirts of Grenoble—is 52 years old. In other words, when she was born in Annecy, I was still a teenager out in Sydney. She has won 13 world championships, and is thinking about competing in next year's Olympic Games in London. Jeannie Longo also happens to be a skilled pianist, who competed six times (between 1969 and 1975) in the annual piano competition at Besançon.