CHURCHES along the route of the Tour de France will be celebrating a Sunday with a difference when the race arrives next month.

Normal services are being replaced at some churches on Sunday July 6 by a range of special activities, and several will serve up refreshments with a French twist.

St Michael le Belfrey, near York Minster, where a row of yellow bikes decorates the outside of the church, has cancelled its Sunday morning services and will instead be hosting a café inside the church and a party in the forecourt.

Staff dressed up as 'French men' will supervise giant inflatables including a bouncy castle, sumo wrestling and pillow jousting, and there will also be face painting and other entertainment for the family. The church will also have a large screen showing le Tour inside the church for people to follow its progress.

Life Cycles Recycled, an inclusive community art project, will also display a dome of bike wheels decorated by 'excluded' groups, which takes inspiration from York Minster's Rose Window, outside the church on the Sunday.

St Philip and St James church in Clifton is already decorated with yellow bikes, including one on the tower, and the vicar, the Reverend David Casswell, has written a song about the Tour, called “It’s the Tour de France”, which has been recorded by 25 Year Five children from Clifton Green Primary School.

On the day of the race, the church will be serving refreshments all morning, and hosting games including a slow bike ride competition.

St Olave’s church in Marygate will be serving coffee, brioche and French fancies to visitors from 12pm to 3pm, while St Martin’s church, Coney Street, will host a bell ringers extravaganza, with demonstrations and the opportunity for people to have a go, from 12pm to 5pm, with tea, coffee and cakes available. Nearby St Helen’s church will hold a Songs of Praise service at 6pm.

At Poppleton, St Everilda’s and All Saints churches will be teaming up with Poppleton Methodist Church to welcome cyclists and visitors. From 11.45, the churches will serve refreshments and host games and treasure hunts on the village green, with an outdoor praise service at 1.30pm and a free barbecue in the afternoon.

The Reverend Jeremy Sylvester, Vicar of Poppleton, said villagers were being asked to decorate bikes and bring them to the church on the Saturday. "Then on the Sunday we will have them lining the path to the church," he said.