Stumbling across the final leg of the Tour de France, Paris

My student exchange program in Paris coincided with the Tour de France, and many of my classmates had got up at the crack of dawn to stake out a good spot near the finish line. Me? Not so interested. I My friend Meredith and I were on our way to the Musee de l’Orangerie when we clambered out of the Tuileries metro stop to find the Rue de Rivoli lined with barricades.

Odd, right?

We looked further down the street and saw spandex and lycra-clad cyclists prowling around the finish line with their bikes, some talking to media.

We stood there, not wanting to suggest the obvious at this risk of sounding stupid. Was it the starting line of the infamous final leg of the Tour de France?

Tour de France in Paris

Tour de France in Paris

 

Tour de France in Paris

It couldn’t be! Our sports-mad friends had got up at the crack of dawn to secure a prime spot. They were going for a spot near the finish line, but surely even the start would have a few more spectators?

On the other hand, who else would have a bike race the same day as the most famous ride in the world?

We decided to linger a little, to see what happened – something was definitely going on. Our suspicions were confirmed as crowds poured in – we were about to witness the start of the Tour de France! We held onto our spot at the front of the crowd and watched the start of the race.

Tour de France in Paris

Tour de France in Paris

Tour de France in Paris

Tour de France in Paris

After the race begun, we continued our wander to the Musee de l’Orangerie and the Musee D’Orsay, had some lunch and then toddled back to the edge of Tuileries for the final leg. This time it was well and truly packed, and we split up so we could each find a space to worm our way into, where we had a chance of seeing some of the action.

Tour de France Parade in Paris

Tour de France Parade in Paris

We made it in time for the colourful and crazy float parade. French household brands decked out enormous floats, some were replicas of the race with fake hills and mountains and cyclists on the back of trucks, chickens, Scooby Doo and even a “sexy” mascot for…French laundry detergent. Sex sells everything in France it seems. Wearing not much more than a pair of speedos, the mascot pranced, danced and thrusted around the float to the delight of the crowds below.

Tour de France Parade in Paris

Have you travelled for a sports event – or like me, come across one accidentally?

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