Paris in Person | Atmosphere from the final moments of Tour de France at Champs Elysées
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Atmosphere from the final moments of Tour de France at Champs Elysées

One of the things that you should always count on living in Paris (or visiting, or just passing by) is getting stuck in traffic or, even more often, getting stuck due to some unforeseen event whose magnitude can easily overwhelm you. In case, it is about a hundred or so protests (who’d even count them), store openings, riots, pride parade, anti-gay protest (a particularly massive one that took place in 2013, an event that deserves an entire blog post), military parade, marathon, various presidential visits and the latest one, the Tour de France.

 

One might ask oneself a simple question – how do we always seem to end up in such predicament(s) ? The answer is quite simple, in this city there is always something of the sorts going on and as soon you get out, you are likely to be consumed by some sort of a crowd. This particular one was quite pleasant, and an unexpectedly enriching experience (which is not exactly what we might say for some of the previously mentioned events).

 

The main impression of the whole experience is not so much the crowd, nor the fact that half the city got blocked so that the racers could go through, not the extensive security measures, nor the fact that the people came in hours early so that they could grab a glance at a passing by racers (a moment that lasts for 20 seconds, at best). It was really the fact that these racers went through this amazing, grueling, superhuman or inhuman effort just to make it to the end of the race. In these events, we mostly focus on the winners of such competitions ; they obviously have the much wanted gratification and reward of a deserved triumph, so it all makes sense from their perspective. What about these other 166 racers who will place not first, second or third, but fiftieth, hundred, or hundred twenty sixth ? When the crowd cheers their passage, do they feel as proud and as accomplished ?

 

These thoughts were inspired by the logistical effort, the crowd interest and the pompe that the city and the organizers of the race provided. Huge cranes were brought for the cameras to be suspended from ; security all over the place ; a lot of stands selling branded merchandise; even a flight of planes realising chemtrails in colors of the French flag were arranged. So, a maximum effort (of the organizers) to set the stage for the maximum effort (of the participants), and all that – for what ? Sportsmanship, athleticism, Olympian spirit, commercial purposes & profit, entertainment, or all of it combined ? How inclined are you to think about all of this as you’re scaling mountains on your bike, literary destroying your body ? Especially if you know that you are not going to come in first, or even in first ten ?

 

Anyhow, all of this pseudo-philosophical inquiry was to set the stage for a short video that is supposed to bring you some of the atmosphere from the Champs Elysées yesterday – from this side of the fence. The crowd anticipating the competitors, and their outburst when they finally passed by. Enjoy !