Surrounded by high-rise buildings, expensive wine bars and a plush shopping centre, the Wood Wharf site – situated to the east of Canary Wharf – feels very much like an unloved part of London’s financial district.
Yet for the final week of this year’s race, it has been turned into a Tour de France Fan Park. But what is it actually like?
CW spent Wednesday afternoon there, soaking up the sun as well as the sights and sounds on offer, and came away fairly impressed.
A large big screen relays ITV4’s coverage of the Tour (both live and highlights programmes), so we were able to clearly watch Chris Froome time trial his way to glory on stage 17.
Given the way the assembled crowd applauded the victory, the atmosphere in the fan park is definitely more reminiscent of Wimbledon’s Murray Mound as opposed to a city centre plaza show England football matches during the World Cup. Nothing to worry about here if you plan on taking your family to visit.
The bars were well served, meaning queues for drink were non-existent, and there were a number of food stalls in case you got the hunger knock. (Rather handy for plenty of the local workforce, some of whom appeared to be enjoying an extended lunch.)
That said, with Fish Dogs, Hog Roast, Crispy Duck Wraps and Frozen Yoghurt on sale the selection was rather British, whereas we would have preferred to see more French-inspired food on sale.
With a merchandise stand offering plenty of race and team products, visitors can briefly pretend they’re walking around a Village Départ, although overhearing the commentary of Phil and Paul will quickly bring them back to reality.
For something in its first year, there is predictably room for improvement. If the Fan Park could replicate the look and feel of a start village, and add a bit more of the French flavour to proceedings, it would be even better.
Nonetheless, for a first-attempt, it’s not bad at all. Watching Sunday’s stage there if you can is definitely recommended.
Tour de France 2013: Stage reports
Stage 18: Riblon wins as Froome suffers on Alpe d’Huez
Stage 17: Froome wins third 2013 Tour stage
Stage 16: Costa takes solo win as Froome put under pressure
Stage 15: Froome wins on Mont Ventoux to extend lead
Stage 14: Trentin wins from break
Stage 13: Cavendish wins, Valverde loses on stage 13
Stage 12: Kittel out-sprints Cavendish
Stage 11: Martin wins time trial as Froome extends lead
Stage 10: Kittel takes second stage win
Stage nine: Martin wins stage as Froome fights to keep lead
Stage eight: Froome wins Tour mountains stage to take overall lead
Stage seven: Sagan scores first win of 2013 Tour
Stage six: Greipel wins as Impey moves into lead
Stage five: Cavendish wins; Gerrans keeps lead
Stage four: Orica win Tour’s team time trial to put Gerrans in yellow
Stage three: Gerrans outpaces Sagan to take win
Stage two: Millar denied yellow as Bakelants takes spoils
Stage one: Kittel wins chaotic opening stage
Tour de France 2013: Podcasts
Podcast 13 (Stage 16)
Podcast 12 (stage 15)
Podcast 11 (Stage 14)
Podcast 10 (stage 13)
Podcast nine (stage 12)
Pedcast eight (stage 11)
Podcast seven (stage 10)
Podcast six (stage nine)
Podcast five (stage eight)
Podcast four (stage six)
Podcast three (stage five)
Podcast two (stage four)
Podcast one (stage one)
Tour de France 2013: Comment, analysis, blogs
Moto blog part two (July 15)
Moto blog part one (July 9)
Lessons learnt by Team Sky after Tour visits Pyrenees
Was Sunday (stage nine) a missed opportunity for Froome’s rivals?
Rest day review (July 8)
Tour de France: 100 Tours, 1,000 stories
Tour de France 2013: Photo galleries
Stage 17 by Graham Watson
Stage 16 by Graham Watson
Stage 15 by Graham Watson
Stage 14 by Graham Watson
Stage 13 by Graham Watson
Stage 12 by Graham Watson
Stage 11 by Graham Watson
Stage 10 by Graham Watson
Stage nine by Andy Jones
Stage nine by Graham Watson
Stage eight by Andy Jones
Stage eight by Graham Watson
Stage seven by Andy Jones
Stage seven by Graham Watson
Stage six by Andy Jones
Stage six by Graham Watson
Stage five by Andy Jones
Stage five by Graham Watson
Stage four by Andy Jones
Stage four by Graham Watson
Stage three by Graham Watson
Stage two by Graham Watson
Stage one by Graham Watson
Team presentation by Graham Watson