Personally, I expected the experience to be hot, crowded, and pointless, because I figured we'd stand there for hours only to see the riders whoosh by for a split second in a blurry flash of color. Hubby assured me they would do at least several victory laps and we'd get to see four or five blurry flashes of color. He turned out to be right, and the day was much more exciting than I'd anticipated.
The riders weren't expected in Paris until the afternoon, but still we were surprised to find the Champs Élysées fairly quiet that morning. We strolled around and did our souvenir shopping, enjoying the festive ambiance.
|They had cute pink Tour de France shirts for girls.|
As it got closer to the expected arrival time of the riders, we found ourselves a spot along the barricaded side of the avenue. It just really wasn't as crowded as I thought it would be - only about 3 or 4 bodies deep, actually. And since it was so easy to spot my husband and kids, I ambled over to the fine Parisian dining establishment known as Quick Burger, bought myself a soda, and sat at one of their terrace tables
First came the publicity caravan, the procession of colorfully decorated trucks, cars, and floats that proceeds the bicycle riders and advertises their sponsors. The vehicles number around 250 or so.
By the time the peloton arrived my son and daughter had wriggled their little bodies all the way forward to the front:
From their now great vantage point, they were able to get some fantastic shots of the riders:
My son is exceptionally proud to have captured a full-frame, albeit blurry, image of the 2010 winner, Alberto Contador of Spain, in his yellow jersey:
When the race was over we watched the winning team, Astana, being photographed:
But the most fulfilling part of the day for me? No cars on the Champs Élysées, meaning finally being able to get a family photo in front of the Arc de Triomphe without having a near-death experience.