What's that noise? Watching the 2012 Tour de France from Pont Mirabeau!


Beep-beep! Beeeeep-beeeeeep! Bonjour Paris! Beep-Beep! Shaken out of my revery by the cacophony of horns tooting outside my living room window, I flung open the balcony door and gazed downward just in time to see four giant marshmallows on a huge skewer passing below me. What was going on? Was Paris being invaded by sugary sweets? Noticing my neighbor craning her neck to get a better view of the Voie George Pompidou, I asked if the noisy parade had anything to do with the Tour de France. When she replied that it did, I felt as if I had won the lottery. Rather than watching the cyclists ride down the Champs-Élysées with hordes of other people later that afternoon, I could welcome them to Paris from Pont Mirabeau.


Grabbing my camera, cell phone and keys, I rushed down five flights of stairs as fast as my feet could carry me to join the crowd already assembled on the bridge. As one promotional vehicle after another whizzed past, a Dutch lady pointed at our building to ask if it had an elevator. Incorrectly assuming that she was looking for an apartment to buy or rent, I assured her that it did at the same time that the woman on my right responded to the tourist's question. And that's how I learned that congregating on the bridge is an excellent way to meet your Canadian neighbors. It's just a pity that we didn't do it any earlier because they're moving home at the end of the month after an all-too-short (according to them) one year stint in Paris.


As the minutes ticked by and turned into a couple of hours, our Canadian neighbor kept us posted on the proximity of the cyclists by tracking their progress online. "They're going downhill", "Now they're on a flat stretch", "For some reason they're cycling at 18 km an hour". What? Wondering why they were going so slow, I started following the Tour de France on Twitter and saw that it was at about this time that Bradley Wiggins drank his celebratory champagne.

Photo credit: official photo tweeted by the Tour de France








After showing the picture of the British champion to our neighbors and tweeting that the cyclists should pick up the pace, the crowd on Pont Mirabeau was ecstatic when we finally saw the cluster of athletes round the bend in the distance.


Within seconds they pedaled closer and closer...




until they passed directly under the bridge on their way to their historic ride on the Champs-Élysées.

Congratulations to Bradley Wiggins, the first British champion of the Tour de France, and Mark Cavendish, the winner of the final sprint. There were a lot of happy fans from the United Kingdom in Paris yesterday afternoon!


Here's a somewhat shaky video of the cyclists' approach to the bridge that Stéphane filmed with his phone. Sorry for the woman's clapping hands but at least it gives a good idea of the enthusiastic welcome that the riders received as they passed under Pont Mirabeau.


Comments

  1. You're so intrepid! And you got the Nestle Nesquick animal--what kind of animal is it? Is "Charmallows" how one says "marshmallow" in French?

    I'm glad you met your neighbors and I think that's usually what happens--you meet just before someone is leaving. It happens in my building a lot.

    And what a year for the UK!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No, I wasn't intrepid at all! I was being a couch potato when the Tour de France came to me. As for the Nestle animal, I have no idea. Is it a chipmunk, perhaps? Marshmallow is guimauve in French, which reminds me that I still have a packet of some rose marshmallows from Laduree in the cupboard.

      Even though I hadn't met our Canadian neighbors, I knew that there were some English speaking people somewhere in the building because I can occasionally hear them talking when our kitchen window is open. Even though we share the same courtyard, the entrance for their building is on another street so I guess that it's not too surprising that we never bumped into each other. But they did tell us that they were on the bridge on New Year's Eve waiting to see the fireworks that never happened and on Bastille Day.

      Delete
    2. Funny how you often need a special occasion like that one, to meet some friendly neighbors.

      Actually, we do also say "chamallow" in French ;)

      It looks like you found the perfect spot to attend the arrival of the tour and you get such nice views of the Eiffel tower from that bridge.

      Delete
  2. I have been obsessed with the Tour since before Greg Lemond and have been glued to the TV for every stage. Yesterday, knowing approximately where you live, I wondered if any of the folks lining that part of the route might be you, hoping you would bring me close to the action...and you did!

    I've always wanted to see the Tour in person and with it being the 100th year, next year, am debating a visit, if I can work out how to follow along for the last week...a bit logistically challenging for me, as an occasional traveler but we'll see...

    Thanks again for letting me "feel" what this year's Tour was like.
    dekage

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're right - I was one of the people lining the route and waving at the television cameras! Did you see me?! ;) But it was really by chance because Stephane and I weren't sure that we wanted to brave the crowds near the CE again this year. If there's ever something that you want me to cover in Paris, please write a comment or send an email. I'm always open to suggestions and looking for things to do.

      I met an Australian man yesterday who was here for the Tour de France. He said that they followed it on bikes and that it was a great experience. I think that the 100th is going to be cause for quite a celebration. I recently discovered a plaque on a building close to where we live saying that a beloved Tour de France champion used to live there. His name was Andre Leducq. I'm going to do a bit of research to see what I can learn about him.

      Delete
  3. I got interested in the TDF when we were staying in Paris a couple of weeks age. I have never really been interested before. The British press were too busy at that time with the run up to the Olympics.

    I could not have predicted that it would be a British triumph. So glad you were able to see it first hand.

    Oh but what wonderful TV pictures we got of Paris in the UK. Two for one. Cycling AND Paris! Sweet!

    Denise
    Live from Bolton

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I haven't ever followed an entire Tour de France, only bits of it whenever Stephane turned it on tv. I remember one year he was really frustrated that it didn't seem to make any of the news when we were in the USA for vacation. I guess that it depends on which other sports they're covering at the time. I can't wait for the start of the Olympics. I think that I'll watch some of it on the big screen in front of the Hotel de Ville.

      Delete
  4. Awesome post Mary Kay. You got some great photos.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank, Nancy! I thought of the great photo of the cyclist that you took and would have loved to try panning the camera. But I guess that I should start out with cyclists who aren't moving so fast to get the hang of it first.

      Delete
  5. Lucky you! We didn't see the Tour live this year as it didn't come anywhere near us :-(
    Fabulous photo of Wiggins! He's a real gentleman of a cyclist and hugely popular. I've blogged about him today too!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. WIth all of the notable English riders, it's a shame that the Tour didn't pass near you this year. Stephane was happy with the route because they passed through Porrentruy, the small town in Switzerland where his mother was born.

      Delete
  6. Great post! I got to view it from the corner of the Louvre and the Tuilleries, so I saw them 8 times! It was fantastic!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's wonderful that you were able to see them this year, Jane! We were near the Tuileries Garden last year and it was amazing to see them whip around so many times.

      Delete
  7. I was recommended this blog by my cousin. I am not sure whether this
    post is written by him as no one else know such detailed
    about my trouble. You are amazing! Thanks!

    Also visit my page ... cheap car insurance nj

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular Posts