Riders of the lost Arc

The iconic Arc de Triomphe is just a short ‘promenade’ from the equally iconic Radisson Blu Champs Elysées, Paris (previously the headquarters of Louis Vuitton, no less), with many of the hotel’s rooms offering a view of arguably the most famous monument in Paris.

Construction of the arch began in 1806 on the orders of Emperor Napoleon, who wished to honour his victorious army by giving them the chance to return home from their latest victory at the Battle of Austerlitz through “arches of triumph”.

Today, however, the heavy sound of army boots has been replaced by the clatter of Louboutins as Parisians make their way to the many chic cafes and restaurants found on the avenues that radiate from the Arc de Triomphe.

And at a certain time of year, even that noise is drowned out by the sound of a thousand bike wheels and the cheers of ecstatic fans as the Tour de France makes it way to the place that’s become its latest finishing line.

 

The world’s greatest cycling race has finished on the Champs Elysées every year since 1975

 

A tour de force on the Champs Elysées
The world’s greatest cycling race has finished on the Champs Elysées every year since 1975 but in 2013, for the first time, the route extended along the entire length of the most famous road in Paris to include circuits of the world’s most recognisable arch.

In 2014, the Tour de France will visit the Arc de Triomphe once again during the dramatic culmination of the final stage.

So, whether you’re confirmed cycling crazy or just bike-curious, where’s the ideal spot to catch the climax of the world’s most famous cycle race as the winners cross the line in a blur of Lycra?

 

‘Brake’ with tradition
If you want to get right up close to the action on the Champs Elysées, then either become a celeb or VIP (apologies if you are one already) and grab your seat and champagne in the specially erected grandstands.

Alternatively, get up early and grab your spot at the barriers that line the route. Late morning should do it, giving you plenty of time after your leisurely breakfast at the Radisson Blu to saunter over and pick your spot.

If you’re a fan of ‘La Grande Boucle’ but not the big shove, don’t forget there are usually big screens along the Champs that will give you a great view of the action without jostling for position just as much as the leaders.

For the ultimate way to see the Tour reach its dramatic conclusion, choose a table at a nearby cafe or bar. We’d recommend a cocktail in the welcoming bar and lounge, or alfresco dining in the outdoor terrace of the Radisson Blu; just a champagne cork’s pop away from the celebrations at the Arc.

You may not be treated to a direct view of the finish, but you’ll be able to soak up the atmosphere of the year’s most exciting event on the most iconic avenue in Paris.