Tour de France

July 25, 2011

Yesterday, we were in Paris dropping off two of our nieces. Happily, it happened to be the Tour de France finish. So of course, we decided to watch as the racers made their way up and down the Champs Elysées.

I know very little about the Tour de France (basically, I know Lance Armstrong’s name), so I had no idea what to expect, but this is what it was like. We walked along the very festive Champs Elysées. Banners were out, streets were blocked off, the weather was ideal, everyone was in a good mood. And everybody was waiting. We bought a hat.

About an hour before the racers made their appearance there was a parade of sorts that came through and got the crowd pumped up. Then more waiting, so we treated ourselves to ice cream cones. Then the first group of bikers appeared! It was a breathless few seconds (seconds!) and they were gone. Just like that. So crazy! I couldn’t believe how fast they went. And there were team cars following behind them going crazy fast as well. We stuck around for the next group of bikers, caught some fun pics and headed home.

Such an experience! I’m so glad we got to see it.

Are you a Tour de France fan? Did you have a favorite racer this year?

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{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Barchbo July 25, 2011 at 5:24 am

How fun and exciting!

We are a cycling fan family – my mom and my husband especially! My parents rode their bicycles across the United States twice and my husband rode the MS 150 a few times! My mom usually cheers for Andy Schleck but she likes Cadel Evans, too. My husband just likes a good race!

On time, Laura Mayes and I almost got run over by Lance Armstrong on his bicycle – that’s what we get for jaywalking!

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2 cheryl July 25, 2011 at 5:27 am

I don’t stay up to watch it all (it always starts really late at night here in Australia) – but I keep an eye on it every now and then through the news.
How exciting for you all to see the final day.
And yay – the first ever Australian won this year’s tour – Cadel Evans!! (he’s come twice once or twice before I believe).
What exciting times you must all be having over there.
Cheryl xox.

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3 Katie July 25, 2011 at 5:52 am

Wow, how exciting! Nothing beats stumbling upon fun things randomly!! It makes my butt ache just thinking about all the time spent on bike though!

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4 amy July 25, 2011 at 6:07 am

my husband loves the TDF, I can tolerate it in small doses. thankfully he found that he can get his ‘fix’ by watching it online, in their ~10 minute recap. he enjoyed watching that while we were in the mountains last week without a television

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5 Susan July 25, 2011 at 6:14 am

I’m a HUGE fan, and I am so sad it’s over. It’s the only sport I look forward to each year…and I don’t even own a bike. But I could talk for hours about Le Tour, tell you teams, players, stats, etc…I am obsessed. SO jealous you had that experience…it’s on my life list!

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6 RMS July 25, 2011 at 7:43 am

wow, I thought I was the only rabid cycling fan that isn’t a cyclist herself!

thanks for the post, Gabrielle, I’ve been meaning for weeks to ask if you were going to have a chance to catch the TdF while in France.

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7 Becky July 25, 2011 at 6:30 am

We watched it all. So glad that you got to experience a few seconds of it. Those bikers really do fly!

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8 Julie@ContemporaryPlussCreations July 25, 2011 at 6:34 am

I’ve been fortunate enough to witness this same stage of the TDF a few times. The bikers actually go up and down the Champs Elysees 10 times, so if you stick around long enough, you get to see them a bit. I’m sure the waiting was forever, though! One year I stood and waited for HOURS in the heat, then, just when you think they’re coming, it’s…only the parade!! Glad you had fun, though, and were able to see some of the TDF :)

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9 THW July 25, 2011 at 6:38 am

I became a fan by osmosis – my husband is the cyclist at our house, and because the race is in France & I’m generally a fan of anything French. This year’s race was absolutely thrilling from beginning to end! We followed the entire three week event LIVE on television here in Trinidad & Tobago, and our life goal is to follow it in person before the end of the decade. I’m really glad you were able to see part of it!

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10 Jaci July 25, 2011 at 7:03 am

The Tour de France is a BIG event for our family!
My husband and I are cyclists, so watching the Tour on tv with our 4 kids has become a family tradition. We even instituted ‘French dinner night’ where we dine on french bread/cheese and all the fixins’ while we watch the rerun of the day’s stage.

The kids especially love looking for the Giro Devil (or El Diablo) in the crowd…the fan who dresses as a Devil every year and cheers on the riders throughout the tour….he’s a landmark!

We’re saving for a trip to Europe in spring/summer 2013, no surprise the Grande Finale will be seeing the finish of the Tour!

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11 Samantha Lee July 25, 2011 at 7:23 am

We’re also a huge Le Tour family!

It’s been great to sit up each night watching the coverage with my husband and teenaged son. This year’s tour did not disappoint. And watching those cyclists rip through on the cobbles of” the Champs” must have been a real thrill. How fun for you guys!

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12 allysha July 25, 2011 at 7:35 am

I love the Tour, although I didn’t follow too closely this year. But I was completely pleased with the winners. I like Cadel Evans and the Shleck brothers. There were some CRAZY crashes this year, one with a media car swerving to miss a tree and hitting some of the riders! (As you can imagine, they were kicked out from covering the race.)

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13 Jessie July 25, 2011 at 7:46 am

I’m so jealous you all got to see the race. We’re big Tour fans in our house, and my favorite rider also happened to be the winner this year! In fact, I’m such a big Cadel Evans fan, that Cadel was on our short list of names for a boy during my last pregnancy (I ended up with Sophie instead). My husband and I are squirreling away money a little at a time and are planning to backpack along with the race in a few years. It’s our dream vacation.

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14 Simone July 25, 2011 at 8:51 am

As an Aussie it’s Cadel all the way! Yes I got on the band -wagon ;-)

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15 Christy Ghazimoradi July 25, 2011 at 8:57 am

Oh I am so glad you went! We watch every stage. In fact I don’t know what I am going to do in the evening or at naptime anymore! We can’t wait to go and watch it live. It’s incredible to watch day after day and realize they are riding bikes up mountains…and really fast!

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16 tori July 25, 2011 at 8:59 am

I don’t follow sports as a rule, but I love, love, love the Tour. The cyclists are amazing athletes. So much drama! And on top of it all you get to see the beautiful French countryside! Who could ask for more? My husband is a commercial airline pilot and has been able to arrange his flight schedule to correspond with the close of the Tour twice during the days of Lance Armstrong. I went with him once to see the team time trial that ended in Blois. We found ourselves in the good graces of some slightly inebriated locals who would greet us with kisses and exclamations of “Americans!” I think it was my cowboy hat and Texas flag that did it.

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17 Erin Rohlfing July 25, 2011 at 9:46 am

When my husband and I visited Paris for our honeymoon in 2001, it was the first year that Lance Armstrong was slated to win. We were really excited to go and watch such a cool race. We really enjoyed the parade as well. I’m so glad that your family had the chance to see a bit of it. For us, it’s something interesting to keep tabs on in July and talk about around the dinner table. I hope your family is able to start a similar summer time tradition. Cheers!

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18 Erin July 25, 2011 at 9:53 am

Love the Tour! My husband is a cyclist and got me interested. Even my 2 year old didn’t mind watching it. He’d spoil the surprise, though, and tell my husband who won, “Dad, the red man won!”, etc., before my husband could watch the recap. I was pulling for Thomas Voeckler, as I can’t resist a bit of an underdog. Really loved watching Thor do so well this year!

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19 Mags July 25, 2011 at 10:00 am

I love the Tour, thought his year I didn’t get to watch much until late in the game. But what an exciting final week! I was pulling for Andy Schleck, but I like Cadel Evans as well; he seemed so overwhelmed to be the first Australian rider to win it all.

What fun that you were able to catch the final day! Someday I hope to be one of those crazy face-painted fans cheering alongside the riders in the mountain stages…

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20 Valerie July 25, 2011 at 10:01 am

We are a cycling loving family too! When I first met my husband, he had just come back from riding his bike across the United States. I’m on bed rest with our first child, so I was able to watch EVERY second of the Tour this year, which was such a treat! I would save the exciting mountain stages to watch with my husband. Don’t know what I’m going to do for 4 hours every day now, but I sure hope my little baby heard all about the Tour and will want to be a cyclist when he grows up! Oh and I love Cadel!!!!

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21 tori July 27, 2011 at 7:49 am

I know! When the tour is over, the day just seems so empty!

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22 Jane July 25, 2011 at 10:07 am

I’m not a cyclist either but have had a long time love for the tour. It is so many things combined: the breathtaking scenery, the mastery of the riders, the tactics, the crazy fans in their speedos and of course the commentary because Phil just caps it all off for me, I love him.
Of course this year I knew from day one that Cadel meant business, he had the fire in his eyes I told a non believer! Being an aussie this was a big thrill to see him go all the way and living in the US I didn’t have to get up at an ungodly hour to watch like my family in Oz.
I had my 3 1/2 yr old enthralled and we would follow Cadel’s progress from day to day (just a few minutes for him) and we would take turns leading our Aussie Aussie Aussie oi oi oi cheer. Yes I too and disappointed that it is all over again until next year, glad you got to be involved even in a small way.

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23 Kerstin July 25, 2011 at 11:16 am

This past year the Tour of California came right past my driveway. It was a similar experience – minus the parade, ice cream cones, and hats. So basically lots of waiting, a few seconds of riders gone in a flash. And the crazily driving team cars!

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24 Cindy July 25, 2011 at 12:08 pm

How fun! I have always wanted to be in Paris for the last day of one of the Tours. My daughter got to see part of it last year in Bordeaux while serving her mission–including watching Lance Armstrong warm up before a time trial stage.

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25 Lena July 25, 2011 at 1:17 pm

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26 Martha July 25, 2011 at 2:30 pm

My husband has been into road cycling for about 5 years and every July he watches the TDF. I usually watch it with him but since we haven’t had cable the last few years, he just watches bits and pieces online. I love it! The more you know about it, the more interesting and exciting it becomes, as is the case with most sports. I was even tearing up when Cadel Evans was on the podium accepting his first win! He’s been second several times in the Tour, so we were so proud. (Sidenote: it’s a veeeeerrrry dirty sport. Like, don’t be surprised when everyone gets banned for blood doping and the whole sport just goes extinct.) We hope to make it to France to see the TDF someday!

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27 Holly July 25, 2011 at 3:53 pm

We are a Tour-watching family. We’d love to take the kids to see some of the stages when they’re older. After watching for years, it was great to see Cadel Evans win.

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28 Shara Harper July 25, 2011 at 5:12 pm

I love watching for the scenery and my husband loves to watch the race, although we only watch the highlights show as it is on way to late for us in Australia…Very proud of Cadel Evans this year, he has come close many times and I think he is the oldest rider since WW2 to win Le Tour.

Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! Oi! Oi! Oi!

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29 This girl loves to Talk July 25, 2011 at 5:51 pm

Of course we had a favourite this year! An australian won!! lol he has come second for a few years so we knew it would be his turn :) I’m not a fan though, just knew a bit about it this year due to Cadel Evans

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30 Kevin July 25, 2011 at 6:19 pm

I am SO JEALOUS you were there! I’ve watched every day of the tour since 2007 and love it. I’m an avid cyclist myself and put in between 50-100 miles a week. I was looking for Cadel or Andy to win and I was pleased to see them do so well. It’s easily the most strenuous and spectacular sporting event on the planet with the miles covered and days in the saddle. LOVE IT!

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31 Jennifer July 25, 2011 at 7:47 pm

Yell for Cadel! So jealous you were there. This is the first time I really understood all that goes on with this race. My sister’s boyfriend is an avid cycler and explained so many things about the team sport. Really interesting. My kids were hooked, yelling at the TV and rooting for Cadel.

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32 Nikk {Perpetually Engaged} July 25, 2011 at 10:40 pm

Your kids will never forget it! I saw them once in 4th grade. One of them dropped a hat after they passed and my Dad still has it ;)

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33 Kate @ Savour Fare July 26, 2011 at 1:22 pm

My parents were in Paris for Lance Armstrong’s last victory — they saw him finish, which seems pretty thrilling to me. I knew nothing about the Tour de France until I read Cat by Freya North — totally fluffy chick lit, but it also fills you in on the Tour and the tremendous athletic feat it is!

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34 leslie July 26, 2011 at 3:36 pm

we watch the tour as well…even though there’ve been many, many, many discussions/disputations/concerns because of the whole doping….
i really liked the races this year, because to me all the participants seem to be on the same page and they’ve been so close together {time-wise}! loved it!
my favourite was c. evans because he’s been working soo hard throughout the tour and he really deserved to win!
and i’m glad that a. contador didn’t win, not even a leg….because of that:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alberto_Contador#2010_Tour_de_France

and yes, i know that many other athletes dope/d as well but at least most of them had the guts to tell the truth. i think it’s shameful that contador’s case is postponed {again} so that he could actually “pedal” the tour!

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35 Claire July 26, 2011 at 5:20 pm

I’m not usually a big fan of the TDF, but was excited to see an Australian win this year! :)

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36 Kathleen July 28, 2011 at 2:23 pm

Le Tour is our favorite summer event to watch. It would be fun someday to spectate for a stage or two.

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