The riders in the Tour de France whizz past at speed. But it's a spectacle all day long and it starts with the passing of the caravane publicitaire, a collection of 220 publicity vehicles.
The publicity caravan is a mobile carnival, with dancers, 12-ft motorised tea-pots and Aquarel 'firemen' who hose the crowd with high-pressure jets of cold water. For a taste of what London is about to experience, there's a video on YouTube. This is available in hi-res - suitable for iPods, PCs and Apple TVs - in iTunes.
Here's what will be handed out over the three weeks of Le Tour:
1 million bottles of Aquarel water
1 million Haribo sweets
600,000 Bouygues Telecom CDs
500,000 SeaFrance pens
400,000 Pik’Croq and Vache Qui Rit samples
300,000 Etap Hotel luminous key rings
200,000 Caisse d’Epargne key rings
15,000 Transport for London bracelets
Some of the products – such as the TfL bracelets – are specific to London, and not all of the France-specific freebies will be seen in London.
Many of the vehicles and promotional floats are supplied by Ideactif, France’s leading 'experiential' agency. The agency has just opened an office in London.
Ideactif has designed, and will be operating, experiential road shows for nine brands in this year's caravane publicitaire.
"Each brand’s experiential event will take place on spectacular and interactive vehicles with theatrical and magical characters and sets," says Marine de Mascarel, UK sales executive for Ideactif.