It's an easy 30km bicycle ride from the point where the first Tour de France began to the point where it ended.

On the afternoon of July 1, 1903 the first stage of the first Tour started outside the Cafe Au Reveil Matin, just south of Paris in the village of Montgeron. It finished 18 days later, after six stages and 2428 km, at Ville d'Avray, a village in the forest half-way between Paris and Versailles.

Last Sunday morning, 115 years to the day since that first start, I headed out to Montgeron through the suburbs, light industry and big-box retail that has seeped outwards from the city, to the Cafe Au Reveil Matin - still standing and in operation.

The café is easy to find, as is the avenue of chestnut trees defining the Tour's first start line. Inside, homage to the Tour is in the form of artfully-flattened road bikes, rusted parts and cycling clothing.


The restaurant's website advertises a Brazilian buffet and samba cabaret. There might be some flashy Lycra on show, but it's a far cry from what Tour pilgrims might expect.

Cheap beer aside, it is hard not to feel a little disappointed.

From the original start line, we headed across Paris to Ville d'Avray, through the empty Sunday morning roads, past the 14th arrondisement market and the many boulangeries opening for the day.

Ville d'Avray is the kind of picture-perfect village seen on the Tour coverage, in a part of Paris that is perfect for cycling. You're less than an hour's ride from the Eiffel Tower, but there are many quiet forest roads nearby.

A plaque on a wall of a bar marks the original finish line. It was closed, so we snapped a couple of selfies and headed back into the city.

The pre-race favourite, Maurice Gaurin, led that first Tour from start to finish. Sixty riders started the first stage and 29 finished the entire route.

* Unlike my Sunday morning shortcut, a more adventourous group of Kiwis set off Friday to ride the entire route of the 2018 Tour a day ahead of the race.

Former professional and Tour rider Hayden Roulston is leading the eight keen cyclists on an epic 3000km ride in a bid to raise money for the Mental Health Foundation. See

Roger Dungan is Deputy Ambassador to the OECD at the New Zealand embassy in Paris.