Tuesday, July 5, 2011

At the Finish Line of the Tour de France

The Tour de France bicycle race is currently on, running a total of three weeks and ending this year on Sunday, July 24th, in Paris.  My husband is a huge fan of bike racing and it was his dream to attend the Tour some day, so we worked it into our trip last summer.  We were there on the sidelines of the finish line on the Champs Élysées to see Lance Armstrong, Andy Schleck, and Alberto Contador go whizzing by.

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 napping waiting for the action to begin.

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.


  1. What a once in a lifetime experience that must have been. Great photos! I look forward to coming back and reading more of your site.

  2. Wow! I must say, tour de France is definitely an interesting event! I really wanted to be a part of this grand bicycle road race however, I couldn’t. Unfortunately, I received my France visa bit late!


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