Where is it?


Why do you go there?

Every edition of the Tour de France finishes in Paris. It is one of the unifying things when you work on the race – in whatever capacity – because we are all filled with the same emotion at the end of three weeks.

You drive through the night and end up, close to midnight, passing through the Peripherique and seeing the searchlight on the top of the Eiffel Tower. I have covered 20 editions of the Tour de France. That sense of completing a journey never leaves you.

How often do you go?

A few times a year. I have been working on a book, out next summer, that has taken me to Paris for research.

How did you discover it?

I had a university friend who went off to study at the Sorbonne. At the same time, I was doing a year abroad in Germany. I took an overnight train from Hamburg to Paris to pay him a surprise visit.

I remember three or four blissful days staggering around from bar to bar and playing pinball, which seemed to be popular back in the day in France. That was my first experience of Paris. I was 19.

We ran out of money. Our only hope was to get across the border into Germany before the banks shut on a Friday afternoon, so I could withdraw some funds from my German bank. We had to hitchhike overnight, but we made it.

What’s your favourite memory?

Certain memories spring instantly to mind. Bradley Wiggins, when he stood on top of the podium in 2012, turned to face the crowd and said: “Right, we're just going to draw the raffle numbers ...” That was a pretty unbeatable line.

The first Tour de France I was sent to cover was in 2003 – it was the centenary edition. In 1903, the race started and finished in Paris, and as a nod to its history, it started and finished there again in 2003.

Who do you take?

Can I choose a historical figure? Henri Desgrange, the founder of the Tour de France. I would love to sit opposite him in a turn-of-the-century bistro to find out what he really meant the race to be.

What do you leave behind?

Working on the Tour necessitates wearing an accreditation around your neck for the best part of a month. One of the great joys is taking that off at the end. The accreditation usually ends up in my hotel room bin.

Sum it up in five words.

Vive le Tour de France.

What other travel spots are on your wish list?

I have a deep fascination for the Balkans, specifically Bosnia-Herzegovina. I would also like to spend more time in Germany. I lived in Hamburg for four or five years in the early 1990s. There are parts of the former East Germany – particularly Thuringia – that are massively underrated.

Ned Boulting’s cycling-themed show, Retour de Ned, is at the Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh, on November 13. Visit and