Tour de France 2021 from Champs Élysées Paris
Last summer, in 2021, a few of us expats went to Paris to watch the last leg of the Tour de France. It takes place at the Champs Élysée, the famous shopping street that connects to the the Arc de Triomphe. The cyclists travel up the street and around the Arc and then make their way back down the opposite side. They repeat this sequence around 6-10 times depending on the year.
That summer was peak covid time and the country had recently introduced the new covid passports. I actually preferred that though, to be honest, because it meant that only a fraction of the people that typically watch the event would actually be there that day and a lot less people means a much better view. Crowds of tourists, am I right? Who loves crowds?
There were still quite a few people there though as you can see in the photos.
People gathered pretty early around the barricades to secure a prime location to view the race.
I haven't see the Tour from any other location in the country but I would argue that the last leg in Paris is likely the best place to watch it since the cyclist pass by the area multiple times. The cyclists go by so fast that you only have a few seconds to actually witness them. The whole is event is basically over in less than 15 seconds. If you only had one opportunity to see them pass you would have to make a decision on whether you wanted to actually watch the race or to film or take pictures of it in order to show people that you were there. You really can't do both, that is unless you consider watching an event through a tiny screen actually experiencing it?
At the Champs Élysée you have the opportunity to do both though. You can do what I did and film the first two passes and then watch and enjoy the remaining few laps. It's kind of the best of both worlds.
From what I recall of the event, they don't announce where the cyclists are or if they are getting close. Or maybe they do and I just didn't understand what the announcers were saying?
Nonetheless I do remember there being a very distinct buzz in the crowd as the cyclists started to get close.
Then suddenly everyone's cameras went up and cheers worked there way through the line of people, much like a wave at any large stadium.
There were a few cyclists with a short lead on the main group, two or three and then a slightly larger group of three or four maybe. It was like a small trickle of water flowing by before an oncoming flood.
Within mere seconds the small group becames a clustered mess of people. Bikes within inches of each other, all jockeying for position.
It was a bit dizzying really. Its impossible for your eyes to actually focus on anything as the mass blurs by. Your brain is left trying to make sense of what it just witnessed.
It's chaotic in an very organized chaos sort of way. Everything is at least moving in the same direction.
There are always a few stragglers in any sporting event. As the main cluster passed I got a glimpse of them coming up from behind.
Then the motorcycles and cars went by and it was all over, at least until they made their pass on the opposite side of the street.
The process is literally over within 13 seconds or so as you can see in the video I posted.
But luckily they repeat the entire sequence 10-20 minutes later and you get to see everything all over again. It's a pretty cool experience even though it all happens so fast.
Well, that's it for now. Thanks for stopping by.