Yesterday, the final stage of the Tour de France rolled into Paris. Because we live in Paris and love photography, I knew I had to venture down to the course to find a good vantage point from which to photograph the riders. The time schedule on the official website indicated the riders would not arrive in Paris until approximately 4:30 pm. Given big crowds of several hundred thousand people were expected to line the streets of the course, I headed to the Place de la Concorde at 10:30 am to stake out a good spot. I assumed arriving over six hours early would allow me to explore and select the perfect location. When I came out of the Metro, I was greeted by thousands with the same idea: arrive early and stake your claim.
Not knowing the exact course route, I figured I’d try to get an elevated position and view from the Jardin des Tuileries looking out to the middle of the Place de la Concorde (the Champs Elysees had too many barricades and trees lining the course to get unobstructed views.) I spotted another serious photographer (I knew he was serious because he was packing a five foot ladder and I had my three foot step ladder bungee corded to my camera roller bag) and asked, “Parlez vous Anglais?” He responded, “No”. I pointed to the barricades out in the Place de la Concorde and asked using hand gestures and broken French where the riders would pass. Dinis, a photographer from Portugal, motioned for me to follow him and off we went to the Quai des Tuileries which had an elevated, unobstructed view of the riders as they rode from west to east. We figured this was as good a spot as any and spread out our gear to mark our turf.
I went off to find three lawn chairs: one for me, one for Dinis, and one for Gina who would be joining us later in the afternoon. From my backpack I pulled out a book and baguette and relaxed.
Another photographer, Sasha, an American now living in Sweden, joined our little group and we now chatted to kill time. Around 3:30 pm, Gina finally showed up after an eventful Metro ride (many of the Metro stations were now closed if they were too close to the route). Finally, at around 4:42 the riders arrived in Paris to finish the last 50km by circling the route several times.
From our spot, the riders would pass us six times before the final stage was complete. We all figured we would have plenty of opportunities to capture a few good frames. Gina picked up my second camera and she too fired away. Below are a few of the images we captured.