One of the anchor points for our trip this summer is to catch the start of the Tour de Femmes, which coincides with the end of the Tour de France.

It is so exciting to be able to see the first women’s tour, of proper scale, kickoff. following the tour feels like a bit of a family guilty pleasure, that a guilt subdued a bit now that there is a women’s tour of decent scale, but there’s still a long way to go. Interestingly it seems some of the women’s teams were set up by pro-men who wanted decent cycling opportunities for their daughters.

From the Rue de Rivoli we stood on the railings to watch the eight laps of the women’s peleton, struggling to identify who was whom, relying mostly on the live updates from the website. Despite my preference for analogue experiences, it really is a sporting day out that is enhanced by having a live feed in your pocket.

When the women had gone by we crossed the Jardin de Tuileries to the Orangerie to wait for the Men’s peloton. Having watched the men’s tour on the TV for so many years it was really exciting to be seeing the spectacle close up. It’s like with anything that you have watched on television the scale of things looks very different in real life. Things are at once much smaller because you don’t get the close-up camera shots, and then very large when people do get close.

The Tour de France peleton on its penultimate lap of the Tuileries

It’s such a thrill to see these riders who have been up and down mountains all around France, not to mention their excursion to Denmark, end up right in front of us. It is quite a spectacle. We enjoyed having it with a group of British cycling fans, and were interested to see how little our Paris friends cared for the race. This corroborates a newspaper article yesterday about the Tour’s growing international reputation and the increasing ambivalence for it among the French.

Tomorrow we head out into Ile de France to see stage two of the Tour de Femmes. It’ll be interesting to see how the atmosphere changes on a smaller stage in a more rural spot.

Tips for watching the Tour de France in Paris

This is what we did in 2022 and what we’d do again. Both the women’s and men’s Tour do loops of the Jardin de Tuileries and the Champs Elysées. Access to metro stations in the area is limited. So we arrived an hour early and entrees the area via Metro Palais Royale Louvre. From there you can walk straight in to the gardens. There was also an access point by the Pont Solferino.

We watched the Women’s Tour from behind the railings along the Rue de Rivoli, which is where the close up photo I took above is taken from. A good shady spot but you don’t get long-distance views.

We watched the Men’s Tour from the terrace outside the Orangerie. This was well shaded while waited during the day but was in full sun for the last hour wait and during the laps. Come prepared if you go there.

Next time we’d go to the banks of the Seine opposite the Orangerie which stayed in shade throughout but which had a good view. Note this area had a police bag check point as it is closer to the track and we didn’t think we’d get through with our picnic knives!