Saturday 23 July – Creteil to Paris Champs Elysées
Tour says “flat”, we say – yes, just a cruise into central Paris
Miles cycled: 54, Average speed (mph): 11.5, Max speed (mph): 28.1, Time pedalling: 4hr 38 mins
We found our way to the start in Creteil, just outside of Paris, not a great attraction itself but the start line was at a roundabout with signposts of all the start and finish towns of the entire Tour, so we had to do a few laps to take it in.
The route wound its way through the SE outskirts which made for endless traffic lights and some less salubrious areas but it was great fun to follow the official arrows of tomorrow’s race, and we had a great sense of occasion, as did quite a few Parisians who gave us a cheer & Max had quite a few calls of “c’est Andy Shleck” as he was sporting his new Leopard Trek shirt.
The sky started to look threatening, and before we knew it, it was hammering down with rain, and although we were in a very unpromising area, we found shelter just in time before we were too wet. It turned out to be a Lebanese restaurant, and it was lunchtime, so an unexpected pitstop for mezze & baklava worked out very well!
As we got closer, we went through the Bois du Vincennes and in front of its beautiful chateau we opened the customary final stage champagne to toast our journey.
The final approach along the Seine was very exciting, as all the classic Parisian landmarks came into view including Notre Dame, the Eiffel tower, the Louvre, and then finally through Place de la Concorde, up the Champs Elysées to arrive at the Arc de Triomphe.
Ooh la la c’est fait! We have cycled a total of 2,085 miles in a total time of 146 hours and 56 minutes! 21 stages at an average speed of 14.2 mph, with 107 miles on average per day (excluding the 2 time trials). We’re not on the podium with the pros but as they say of all riders who complete the Tour: MAINTENANT NOUS SOMMES GEANTS DE LA RUE!