The 100th Tour de France has reached the end of its first week and is now in the high Pyrenees, amongst some of the most beautiful and spectacular scenery in France.
After a rest day the Tour will restart in Normandy and then head south east via Tours and Gap to the Alps and a double ascent of the fearsome climb to Alpe d’Huez. For the last stage on Sunday 21st July the whole Tour will transfer by TGV to Versailles for the run in to Paris which as ever will culminate on the Champs Elysees. Thousands of fans from all over the world, many of them from the UK, follow the Tour as it makes its way around the ever-changing French countryside. Many more from the UK head out to Paris by Eurostar or by plane to join in the party and to soak up the electric atmosphere of the final stage. The streets of the centre will be closed to traffic as the cyclists complete 10 circuits along the Champs Elysees and Rue de Rivoli in front of packed crowds, waving flags and cheering on every attack.
To celebrate its Centenary for the first time the Tour will end in a spectacular night time finish in Paris (expected to be at about 9pm) with the cyclists making their way up the Champs Elysees to a floodlight Arc de Triomphe. The stage will start in the gardens of the Palace of Versailles and head into the centre of Paris, entering the courtyard of the Louvre, before turning not in front of but around the Arc de Triomphe. Spectators will be out on the circuit early in the day to save their chosen spot. The atmosphere in the crowd is generally very friendly with British fans mingling happily with the French and others from cycling nations such as Australia, America, the Netherlands and Belgium although they will all be supporting their own particular cycling favourites. British supporters will be hoping that Mark Cavendish records a win on the Champs Elysees for the 5th year in a row. The Norwegian presence is also always very strong and very vocal with the Norwegian fans draping their enormous flags in prominent places along the course.
Many British cycling fans make a long weekend out of their visit to the finale of the Tour, taking in some of Paris’s famous tourist sites at the same time. It is a chance to experience the French capital “en fête”, to witness an incredible sporting event and to soak up the unique Parisian “ambience”.