I was so lucky that my last weekend in France coincided with the arrival of the Tour into Paris. The race has been finishing on the world-famous Champs-Élysées for the past 42 years, and it really is quite a spectacle! What I didn’t realise though, not being a huge watcher of cycling, is that there’s a huge advertising parade, or ‘caravan’ as it’s apparently called, which precedes the actual cycling. I was also surprised with a flypast which sported the typical red, white, and blue contrails. Having said that, the sky was so overcast that the bright white became a murky grey.
I was quite lucky to be right next to the 1km marker on another of Paris’ famous roads, Rue de Rivoli. Here’s a top tip: if you want to get a decent view and avoid the crowds, DO NOT go to the Champs-Élysées. If you head to the bottom end of the loop around the Jardin de Tuileries and stand on Rivoli, as I was, there’s very few people in comparison. I even managed to get a front row spot! Another thing to bear in mind is that the metro stations from George V down to Concorde are all closed because of the Tour, so you’ll be best getting off at Palais Royal-Musée du Louvre. Less of the public service announcements, and back to the cycling.
Not being a massive fan of road cycling, I wasn’t sure really what to expect so I had my Dad on standby giving me information and updates through WhatsApp. He informed me that Chris Froome, the British cyclist on Team Sky, had already won the race, and I had to look out for the yellow jersey. As a result, most of my photos are of Chris Froome and very few others.
Apparently, according to my Dad, they whizz round the final sprint bit at up to 65 km/h (or 40 mph), which is quite a speed considering they’ve already cycled 3,437km before even starting on their last day! Safe to say I couldn’t do it. I’ve also found out through more official sources (Wikipedia) that Froome’s yellow-jersey-winning time was 86 hours, 20 minutes, and 55 seconds. I was out cycling the other day for about 20 minutes tops and my bottom was pretty numb afterwards – I can only imagine how Chris is feeling.
All in all though, it was a great day out with a really fun atmosphere. Cycling fans are apparently quite civilised! And if you want to remember your day, there are about a million and one stalls selling Tour merch so you’ll never be at a loss for a maillot à pois rouges jersey.