tour de force

*brace yourself - this is a long winded post*

so during my trip planning i was googling and searching and trying to find out if anything "cool" was happening in paris while we were in town.  any festivals or concerts or fireworks, etc.  literally at no point did a single result tell me that the tour de france was going on while we were in town.  it wasn't until two days prior to the event (after we were already in paris) did we even over hear it muffled in french.  we were like, what? no. now? no.  yup.  it's happening. for realzies.

now i have been a fan and participant of many sports my whole life.  and yeah when lance armstrong was kicking hard core bicycle ass i sported a live strong bracelet.  i watched him go across the finish line wearing his texas flag.  but that was about as good as it got for me.  my fare weather days were done.  i could have cared less about the race.  so nick and i went about our business in good old "pear-ee".  we thought we were SOOO smart, that while all those french peeps were lining the streets sweating, tired and waiting we would be living it up, shopping, spending that ca-ah-ash on vintage and antique treasure...... untillllll we were told that the tour de france was basically a national holiday and that NOTHING would be open.  jigga what?!?!  seriously?  seriously.  nothing.  a few bistros here and there, but in a local's words exactly we "better go to the grocery and get food and supplies for tomorrow b/c you will find yourself starving roaming the streets through mob crowds."  awesomesauce.

so i mean, what the heck else did we have to do?  not a whole lot.  sooooo we joined in on the fun.  we slept in, and got up and headed towards the race.  the tunnel where they entered "the city" was at the end of the street from our hotel so we didn't have far to go.  we were told that they would enter around noon.  then we were told they would enter around 4.  then we were told "you better find your spot and stake your claim around 11am or you're toast."  so we did a combination.  we found an awesome spot at like 11:30.  stood there for about 45 minutes.  then realized we were starving.  so we walked a few miles to find a bistro that was open.  sat. ate. enjoyed people watching.  and headed back to the race.  stood.  for about another 45 minutes.  got bored.  walked to the louvre.  walked around the courtyard, people watched.  walked across the seine river.  people watched.  stood in another line.  for about another 30 minutes.  then the parade started.  and by parade i mean MASS ADVERTISING AND MARKETING campaign.  it was literally euro car after euro car of DJ driven, party pumping, hot girls shouting the advertisements of their sponsored vehicle.  it. was. awesome.  nick and i laughed our asses off.  it was like something out of an SNL skit.  men dressed in giant marshmellow costumes while women danced all around them to techno music hollering in french.  giant mechanical horses ridden by - what else - hot girls dressed as jockeys (promoting the local horse track).  the formula was the same for each "float."  euro car + techno music + hot girls screaming french = success (slash lots of laughter by us and no one else interestingly enough).

as we watched the parade go by the river we realized that the bikes were probably going to follow shortly after and where we were standing was NOT a good spot for viewing so we walked.  and walked.  and pusheeeeeeedddddd through so many people.  finally waiting a few people out until they grew tired and gave up then we snuck in the front row and were PUMPED.  then!  we waited.  for about TWO hours.  no joke.  but we stood strong - through plenty of pushy people trying to box us out.  it was about two hours of no holds bar fight for your life/spot against a steel barrier.  and i think we did an awesome job until about 10 minutes until they emerged.  a super loud annoying pushy Canadian family came up on us and came up hard.  spitting some serious game - repeating continuously about how they had two kids who just wanted to see the race.  guess what lady.  your kid can watch from behind us because i'm tired, annoyed, pissed that i missed out on my vintage shopping annnnndddd American.  and your kid seems to be whining that he "doesn't even want to be here." get up outs my business.

then.  it happened.  sounds of helicopters grew close - men on motorcycles started racing past.  and we knew it was time.  WOOOOOSHHHH!!!!! anddddd scene.  that was it.  a pack of who knows how many bicyclists.  at the same time.  in one massive wolfgang pack.  who insanely rode by at what seemed like 40 mph.  and in a blink they were gone.  nick and i stood dumbfounded.  was that it?  no laggers?  no people in last place huffing and puffing trying to reach the leader?  negative.  that was it.  we had over heard that they make a few laps around the city before finishing so we decided to hold on strong.  about another 15 minutes went by and it happened again.  WHOOOOSSSHHHH!!!!! gone. donezo.

and that was it.  just as quickly as they came. they went.  and like nothing had just happened, everyone simply turned around and walked in the other direction going about their business.  so we walked to the metro and took the train to notre dame.

i went to tour de france and all i got was this lousy t-shirt: