Paris celebrates the 100th anniversary of the Tour de France


Unlike last year, when I was completely caught off guard by the cacophony of noise when the Tour de France passed under our balcony, I began plotting and planning where to watch the finish of the 2013 race shortly after it started on the French island of Corsica in June. With a mere 21 days to develop my strategy for viewing the 100th anniversary celebration of cycling's most grueling race, I vacillated between watching the riders pass through the courtyard of the Louvre for the first time in history or seeing them sprint up the Champs Elysées.

Simon Gerrans wearing the yellow jersey during Stage 6. Photo credit: Stéphane

My excitement increased when Stéphane, who works for one of the race's corporate partners, rode with the Tour's caravan during Stages 6 and 7. Suddenly, I was receiving a flurry of text messages from my husband about the incredible speeds that the riders maintain while cycling through the French countryside and over steep passes. While Stéphane's enthusiasm didn't prompt me to turn on the television and actually watch the race, I did feel compelled to learn a little bit more about the significance of the colorful jerseys. Most interestingly, the origin of the yellow jersey worn by the overall leader comes from the distinctive yellow newsprint of L'Auto, the newspaper that organized the early races. The green jersey is worn by the best sprinter, the polka dot jersey designates the best climber and the white jersey is awarded to the highest ranked rider who's 25 years old or under.


When the cyclists finally arrived in Paris after pedaling over 6 mountain, 5 hilly and 7 flat stages, they passed the cobblestone courtyard of the Louvre in a blur of color. As my friend Carolyn reported in an email, "Abigail and I were standing by a couple from Texas as the riders passed by in a flash. None of us realized it would be so quick. We got a couple of snaps but the man next to us was still focusing his camera and missed everything. Abigail and I decided it would make a good advertisement for the versatility and dependability of the iPhone. "


Knowing that the cyclists were only scheduled to ride through the courtyard of the Louvre one time, I ran towards the Tuileries Garden to catch another glimpse of them as they veered around the corner at breathtaking speeds.


Other people, like the man who came equipped with a ladder and the fans who booked rooms with balconies overlooking the at the Westin Hotel, had prime spots for watching the cyclists whiz down the rue de Rivoli.

When no one invited me to join the party on their balcony, I switched into high gear (or would that be low gear?) and hightailed it over to the Champs Elysées to catch the grand finale at the Arc de Triomphe. It was spectacular!

More photos of the laser light show on the Arc de Triomphe and the arrival of the Tour de France in Paris.

Comments

  1. Being a big fan I was happy to learn that there would be an evening finish which meant I could watch live rather then taping since it starts at 5:00am on the west coast. Your pictures of the laser show are much better than what was captured on TV.

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    1. The evening finish was great! I didn't see any of the television coverage afterwards but the live show at the Arc de Triomphe had people "oohing and aahing". Unfortunately, I was positioned behind the tallest man in the world so the back of his head appeared in quite a few of my photos. They ran the show a second time after the awards ceremony so that people could take more pictures but by that time the battery in my camera was dead and I didn't have a spare.

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  2. Wasn't it fantastic? We walked up just a few minutes before they made the first ride around the Arc and were right behind a man who had been there since 11 a.m.! : ) I took my 3 step ladder since we live so close, and it really does make a huge difference in the view. Still have some shots of other people's arms in there though. We were pretty close to you Mary Kay judging from your pics. If you were at clock hand position 6:30 around the arc, we were at 7:30! We were expecting fireworks but were so excited with what we got instead! Really, a beautiful, fantastic evening at the Arc! Lovely. We are getting very spoiled between 14 Juillet and La Tour!

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    1. We certainly are spoiled! But I've got to admit that I won't mind having an earlier night this Sunday. After all the excitement, it was hard to roll out of bed the last two Mondays!

      It's helpful to know that you found a good spot at the Arc de Triomphe shortly before the start of the race. I didn't even try to go there because I was sure that it would be packed! When I arrived at the Champs Elysees after the end of the race, I almost went to the 7:30 position because I like that view of the Arc. I ended up staying at the 6:30 position because so many people arrived after me that it was impossible to leave.

      I was also expecting fireworks because that's what I kept hearing from the Tourist Info office. I'm not sure what happened.

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  3. My sleep patterns have just started returning to normal Mary Kay after following the tour for the last three weeks. The tour is a big ticket item in Australia with many bleary eyed people struggling through the day after a late night watching it on television. Your photos of the projections on the Arc are wonderful. You always seem to find the right position for your shots. Well done!

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    1. I didn't know that the Tour de France is such a big deal in Australia, although I guess that Cadel Evan's win probably boosted the popularity of the race!

      I'm glad that your sleep patterns have returned to normal. Mine are completely messed up because it's way too hot to sleep in Paris. Still, I guess that I shouldn't complain. It's summer!

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  4. What a great thing for Stéphane to get to do! And I lived your comment about not caring enough to watch it on TV! I was disappointed that I was still at work when they came through Tours (don't get why they couldn't have arrived a leetle bit later than just before 5 pm, so people could go watch), but other than that I, too, couldn't care less in terms of actually watching any of it!

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    1. Yeah, Stéphane was like a little boy. He kept sending text message after text message about his adventures in the South of France while I tried not to be too jealous in Paris.

      I figured that you meant *loved! ;)

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  5. Thank you for making Sunday such a memorable day for My niece Abigail and me. Stéphane's explanations were so helpful and after reading your blog, I understand about the shirts. By the way, our photos on the iPhones are nothing like yours.
    - Carolyn

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    1. Considering the speed at which the cyclists were traveling, I'm impressed that you managed to get any photos with your iPhone! It was one chance and one chance only on the Quai.

      I'm really pleased that Abigail and you were able to see the 100th race!

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  6. What amazing pictures. I got excited watching that last stage on TV.

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  7. I've been Tour-obsessed for years and dreamed of being a soigneur, handing out the musettes to the riders...so jealous of Stephane for actually getting to be part of the Tour! The finale light show was amazing, even on TV, so jealous of you too! Thank you, as always, for sharing your wonderful perspective.
    Dekage

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