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Paris-Roubaix: Spectating (with a 5-year-old)

classixclassix Posts: 6
edited April 2019 in Pro race
As luck would have it, I'm going to be in Paris on April 14. I've decided to go and see Paris-Roubaix. My daughter, who's about to turn 5, has decided she is coming too (she's a big fan of Tiesj Benoot). I have never spectated at any race--perhaps you can help me plan.

Limitations: I'll have a five-year-old, and I'm leaning against renting a car. This will make it hard/impossible to see any of the serious cobbled sectors.

My current idea: go train to Compiegne to see the riders sign on/the start. Then travel to Roubaix by train (which seems to take 3 to 4 hours) and go to the Velodrome where we can watch on a big screen and see the end.

Does this sound like a good plan? The downside is that we would be on trains during most of the race. And perhaps we will have difficulty getting a spot in the velodrome good enough for a five-year-old?

Any and all thoughts will be gratefully accepted!


  • AlejandrosdogAlejandrosdog Posts: 1,975
    ive done loads of trips to watch races with kids in tow. What i would say is that they end up being very long days and not a lot happens for almost all of it and very little of it of interest to non fans or young children.

    Toilets are ok because she can wee in a field but if i were you Id think about how nice it will be in a few more years and watch it on telly.
  • carbonclemcarbonclem Posts: 1,339
    You’ll need to be at the Velodrome at least an hour before the finish and be prepared for a pointy elbowed battle for position.

    I took my wife and daughter to Paris for the TDF final stage. Despite the combined Euro Disney trip I don’t think they’ve yet fully forgiven me. :D
    2020/2021/2022 Metric Century Challenge Winner
  • ContrelaMontreContrelaMontre Posts: 3,027
    I can't really comment on your plan to visit the start and finish. We went to see Paris Roubaix a few years ago with a 6, 4 and 1 year old though. We went to Camphin en Pevele where there is a bar which has the race on TV so we had somewhere to hang out and watch the race on a big screen. As it approached we walked up to a spot by the side of the Camphin secteur. Carrefour de l'Arbre is also within walking distance but the crowds are bigger and it was a bit further so not so great for little legs.

    We also went to the Roubaix stage of the Tour last year, tried driving to the start town and then to Camphin again. Couldn't get that near the start but I think the Tour is just a much bigger race so it is very busy. Camphin was thronged with people for the Tour.

    I would recommend seeing the race from a cobbled secteur as you are so close to the action and unlike a normal road race the riders are so spread out they will being going past for quite a long time, rather than a 20 second blur.

    Rule No.10 // It never gets easier, you just go faster
  • slowbikeslowbike Posts: 8,498
    We've been to TdF and Tour of Flanders with our son - he was younger though, so probably more easily contained.
    TdF is great - although if you want to go to a mountain section you need to be there early - there's still lots of hanging about, then about an hour of the caravan going and then pause - 5 seconds of riders going past and you're done ... but the atmosphere is great... and children at the roadside are popular with the gendarmes ! ;)

    ToFlanders was similar - although we only saw an earlier bit of cobbles, so we had time to get there, find a spot and sit and wait - no caravan - but the riders took 7 seconds to come through ;)

    You really don't get to see much of the race from the roadside, but at least you do get the atmosphere ... you could always stream the race on your phone if you want to be at the roadside...

    Oh - we tend to go with a van - so we've got full facilities close by - it is a long day ...
  • classixclassix Posts: 6
    Thanks for these thoughts--keep them coming! The Velodrome mightn't be the best place for a 5 year old, then. So perhaps I should be renting a car and aiming for a cobbled sector with a bar/big screen/toilet nearby. The earlier in the race we go for, the more likely we are to see our hero Tiesj (in case he DNFs).

    By coincidence, Lionel Birnie has just given his tips on how to watch the cobbled classics. He says the start of Paris-Roubaix is too busy, so I now think I will skip Compiegne. ... d-classics
  • ContrelaMontreContrelaMontre Posts: 3,027
    Lots of the Belgian fans with their camper vans have TVs which people gather around as well in case you don't get to a bar or big screen.

    You should try and find out where the Tiesj Benoot fan club will be congregating. I'm sure there will be one

    Rule No.10 // It never gets easier, you just go faster
  • AlejandrosdogAlejandrosdog Posts: 1,975
    Lots of the Belgian fans with their camper vans have TVs which people gather around as well in case you don't get to a bar or big screen.

    You should try and find out where the Tiesj Benoot fan club will be congregating. I'm sure there will be one

    The op and his daughter are the fan club :)
  • cougiecougie Posts: 22,512
    I've always found watching cycling in person to be a bit rubbish compared to the TV.
    It's good if you can ride up an Alpe and bask in the sunshine whilst waiting for them to come past slow enough to recognise riders but anything else - you get cold and you can't spot anyone.

    Wrap up well !
  • nickicenickice Posts: 2,439
    Unfortunately, Paris-Roubaix is not really like the big Belgian races where you have amusements etc that'll keep the kids occupied. I've watched it in Willems mainly but that's only because a lot of my wife's family live on the route (just before the penultimate cobbled sector). However, last year I went to the Carrefour de l'Arbre to watch it but was disappointed with the facilities. There is a big screen but when it comes to drinks and food, it's bring your own. France tends to be closed on Sunday and a big cycling race doesn't seem to change that on the whole. Most people just sit on the grass and watch it on the big screen but that'll depend on the weather. Getting there is out of the question without a car and, even then, you'll need to park up at least one km from the race.

    I've never seen it in the Velodrome but,it's also a bit basic (I've been up when the race isn't on and not something I'd fancy doing with a five-year old. It's also about 3 miles from the main station and not really near the metro. In fact, I wouldn't fancy going anywhere on the route with a five-year-old. I suppose you could watch it in a bar near the velodrome but that'll be packed too (there aren't that many) I reckon your best bet would be just to watch the start as you originally planned.
  • classixclassix Posts: 6
    To conclude: I tried to get in touch with the Tiesj Benoot supporters' club (yes, there most certainly is one!) but wasn't able to get a reply from them. Anyway, in the end I realised that to get to the cobbles from Paris I'd have to drive for six or seven hours and that sounded terrible with or without a five-year-old. Going to the Velodrome didn't seem like a great plan either.

    So I ended up taking nickice's advice and just taking the train to the start at Compiegne. Notwithstanding Lionel Birnie's doubts, it was well worth it. We couldn't get near the team buses but my daughter got to pose for a photo in front of a Mavic neutral service car, etc. We got to see Tiesj Benoot being interviewed as he signed in (pity about his later altercation with the Jumbo-Visma car). We were able to stand right at the start line and see the whole peloton take off. Then we were able to take the train back to Paris in time to watch the last 150 km on TV in the comfort of an apartment with a big screen. I think it was the right choice--thanks to you all for taking the time to provide such helpful advice.
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