The Grand Tour of Boston serves up the taste of an iconic cycling event

  • Michael Serpa, leader of the Grand Tour and avid cyclist. (Photo courtesy Grand Tour)

  • Grand Tour on Newbury Street in Boston (Photo courtesy Grand...

    Grand Tour on Newbury Street in Boston (Photo courtesy Grand Tour)

  • A lamb burger and a steak frites at the Grand Tour on...

    A lamb burger and steak frites at the Grand Tour on Newbury Street in Boston (Photo courtesy Grand Tour)

  • Boston's Grand Tour's Le Grand Depart menu features a...

    The Grand Départ menu of the Grand Tour of Boston offers a “stopover” in Alsace – symbolized by this tarte flambée. (Photo courtesy Grand Tour)

Attracted by the idea of ​​experiencing the Tour de France, but not ready for a hike in the European countryside?

Bostonians are in luck, because here the happy coincidence of a chef drawn to French cuisine and landing a spot to ride one of the Tour’s stages this summer means we can all savor the tour.

And we are talking about flavor.

Chef Michael Serpa, partner of Grand Tour ( on Newbury Street, has qualified to ride stage 12 of the tour – called Briançon to Alpe d’huez, in just a few weeks as part of the L’Etape du Tour pre-tour event.

To celebrate, he and his team are offering a prix-fixe meal that not only salutes the Tour de France, but uses food as the storyteller.

The meal is meant to share the history and taste of the very countryside that Serpa will take.

As Serpa thought about the race, he realized that a big part of it for the spectators was the whole experience, not just the cycling. And when in France, food is a key part of that.

“It’s a pretty cool part of the tour,” he said. “People come from all over the world, and in every region you want to try the food that makes that region great.”

The menu follows the route of the Tour de France, offering tastes of many stages along the way.

Serpa discovered cycling almost by accident. A resident of East Boston, he bought a commuter bike and started riding it to work seven years ago, then to Select Oyster, which he also operates.

A wine company he worked with had a Pan Mass Challenge team, noticed he was cycling to work and asked him to join them.

“I was like ‘Ahhhh, that’s a lot of miles’: 200 in two days,” he said. But he bought a road bike, started training, and before long he said, “I got hooked.”

Now he’s an inveterate long-distance runner. The day before this service, he covered 360 miles in 24 hours. He now averages 13,000 miles a year on his bike.

This is why Grand Tour echoes not only life in France, but also cycling life in France. Works of art and portraits celebrate both great cyclists and great French cycling spots.

Serpa likes to share the routes he travels in the Greater Boston area, which always include a stop for food.

“I’ve cycled all over the country and I can honestly say Boston is one of the best cities to cycle in and around,” he said. “We have easy access to all kinds of great routes.”

He loves traveling to the Concord area, through the Marblehead area (where he does a 35 mile loop) and other North Rim towns, and across the South Rim, where a stop at Seabird Coffee in Cohasset or Duxbury is a must. (“We call it the donut curl,” he mused). Another favorite is to head to southern Maine.

And while most of his diners just come to enjoy the food and the cycle-inspired setting, he said, it’s always nice to see people riding bikes.

He hopes this short-lived Tour de France fixed price offer will attract more riders.

“We have (bike) racks and are bike friendly,” he said. “You can come by, sit on our terrace and have a steak frites or a lamb burger”, to fuel your journey.

“Nothing,” he said, “makes me happier than people who come to dinner at Spandex.”

Serpa is also stepping onto the Tour stage with an additional goal: a portion of the proceeds from the special meal will go to No Kid Hungry, a chef-backed charity that provides nutritious food to children in need.

“It’s a problem that can be solved, and that’s just one of the reasons I love it,” he said of the charity and its mission. “It’s really cool.” He hopes to raise at least $5,000 for the cause.

The Tour de France fixed price will be available for around 10 days – but could be extended.

And when Serpa returns, he’ll have stories to share, photos to display, and quite possibly, more food inspiration to lean on.

“It’s really exciting,” he said. “Everyone should ride a bike. To quote Hemmingway, walking is too slow and driving is too fast. On a bike you see things you never noticed before.


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