Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Watching Le Tour de France Paris 2015

French Village Diaries Tour De France 2015 Paris Team Sky Chris Froome Yellow Jersey
Chris Froome, Tour de France, Rue de Rivoli, Paris

We are just back from a rather last minute quick break to Paris, a lovely surprise by Adrian to mark the end of a long five-week work contract in Cambridge. With him working away I was left home alone to deal with Ed’s exams, a 12-hour drive to UK (and back again), a poorly cat, who last week sadly left us after 17 years of love and cuddles, as well as the normal day to day activity at home and in the village. A night in Paris to experience the final of the Tour de France was the best idea ever and we had a great time.

The plan had been to arrive at the hotel as close to checking in time as possible (which we did, to the minute – Adrian is quite precise about timings), then head out to reacquaint ourselves with Paris and watch some of the ladies cycle race, La Course, before selecting a good spot to watch Le Tour finish. Sadly we had to make do with watching La Course on French TV in the hotel room as it was pouring with rain, but we weren’t going to let a bit of damp and chill spoil our chances of experiencing Le Tour final.

French Village Diaries Tour De France 2015 Paris Rue de Rivoli
Rue de Rivoli, Tour de France
With a slight improvement in the weather we staked our spot on Rue de Rivoli, just after the 1km to go flag and next to a bouncing German woman and her husband – I’m guessing her constant bouncing (to keep warm) had put off anyone else from crowding in next to her. With the peloton making ten laps of the 7km circuit around the Jardins des Tuileries and down the Avenue des Champs Elysées we got to see quite a bit of action. On the first pass the Sky train (the term used for a line of cyclists all from the same team) was leading the peloton and being cheered by the multi-national crowd. Having seen so much in the press about the abuse they have received on the Tour, it was nice not to experience anything other than cheering in Paris. The other cycle passes gave us breakaways (individual riders heading out front) to cheer on and the lead-out trains of Lotto Soudal and Etixx-Quick-Step, taking their turns for their sprinters André Greipel (who eventually crossed the line first) and Mark Cavendish. We were able to recognise a few riders as they flashed past including the white jersey of Nairo Quintana, Mark Cavendish’s unmistakable shape, Chris Froome in yellow and the members of his team. Just opposite were a group of Welsh supporters who were stood over one of the Metro air vents (warm air would have been very welcome) helping their Welsh flag to fly high and proud, and yes Geraint Thomas did notice them as Sky lined up for their final cycle past. 

French Village Diaries Tour De France 2015 Paris Team Sky Chris Froome Yellow Jersey
Team Sky, Tour de France, Paris 2015
Once the cloud had lifted a little (we almost saw the sun) the Patrouille de France were able to make their fly past overhead, but Paris, how could you be so cold? Even with walking shoes, socks and raincoat my fingers were numb, my lips turned blue and I don’t think I’ve ever been so cold in July before. Even the rather too-close proximity of the German man behind me didn’t offer much in extra heat! After three weeks in the saddle I’m sure the riders were extremely happy and relieved to cross the finish line for the final time, but not quite as happy as I was to get back on the Metro and begin to thaw out. Why oh why didn’t we pack our gloves?

French Village Diaries Tour De France 2015 Paris Patrouille de France
Patrouille de France, Paris Tour de France 2015

For first-timers at Le Tour in Paris I think we did well to find a pretty good position, being within the last kilometre rather than outside it and if we go again I’d certainly be happy to be in the same position. However, had we braved the pouring rain and got out earlier we might have been able to do slightly better, maybe on the Champs Elysées to watch them on the cobbled stretch or at least in sight of the big screen at Place de la Concorde, but we would have probably needed medical assistance for hypothermia. We certainly got to experience the atmosphere and see all we needed, with the exception of who crossed the line first, but a replay on a TV in a bar on the way back to the Metro filled us in nicely.

We have only been fans of Le Tour since 2012, thanks to the Wiggo effect, but have managed to catch live action in Tours in 2013, London in 2014 as well as Paris in 2015. Would we do it again – you bet; we are already looking forward to next year.

I will post more about Paris, our hotel and food in my next post.

You can also read my top ten tips for watching the Tour de France in Paris on Freewheeling France here.

This post has been linked to Paris in July. See here for more Paris posts.


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