I’d always wanted to try driving a 2CV, ever since hiring an original Fiat 500 for the day in Tuscany, Italy. On this occasion, though, as we were in the centre of Paris and not out in the countryside I thought it better to have a guide drive us around instead. We were in Paris for the marathon so what better reward after the race than to experience the sights and sounds of the city in such an instantly recognisable vehicle! We’d chosen Paris Authentic and were delighted to be escorted for the hour by the wonderfully hospitable Jean-Luc. With the roof rolled back we soaked up all the happy smiles from the passers-by as Jean Luc pointed out secret little squares, famous writers’ coffee shops as well as more popular locations such as the Notre Dame and the Arc de Triomphe. The back seat of the 2CV felt more comfortable than my sofa back home!
The Paris Marathon is the unofficial number 7 in the world after the “big six” of London, Berlin, Chicago, Boston, New York and Tokyo. With a start line along the Champs Élysées it’s certainly a marvellous location if you want to tick a foreign marathon off your “bucket list”. Applying in October for the April race I got in straight in too. No ballot for this event! So those Paris marathon tips? Here they are with a few coming from my dad Roger who’s run over 895 marathons:
1, Choose Paris in the first place!
It’s great having the start and finish areas for the Paris Marathon just a few 100m apart. There are two big beautiful parks enroute. A long flat stretch along the River Seine plus a fairly chilled out atmosphere too!
2, Get a nice hotel near the start
We didn’t have to leave our Champs Elysées hotel until 08:45, to be in my pen for 08:55, for my 09:20 start. That compares with getting up at 5am for the New York City marathon! We chose the Hotel Belmont just south of the Champs Élysées and that suited us perfectly.
The Tour de France rolls into town in a few weeks’ time and once again you’ll see those magnificent men on their cycling machines taking on the best the mountains can throw at them. There’s no Mont Ventoux on the route this year but back in 2009 there was … and we painted a big Union Flag across the road near the top of it! And you could too!
Our Union Flag and WIGGO on Mont Ventoux
We’d always planned to visit the penultimate stage of the Tour that year (Montélimar to Mont Ventoux), flying into Marseille and driving up the mountain before heading straight to the final stage along the Champs Élysée. I hadn’t planned to paint a flag in the early hours of the morning, but maybe my friend Al maybe had. So at the base of the mountain he suggested we buy some red and blue gloss paint, some white emulsion, a roller and a paint tray before heading on up the course. Continue reading