Tour de France, the world’s most prestigious and most difficult bicycle race, if you’re a cycling fan, you can’t miss it! Millions of people partying on the side of the road and the event is televised around the world as one of the supreme tests of athletic endurance.The best riders in the world will be there ready to ride and fighting for a chance to wear the yellow jersey through Paris.
You don’t have to be a Tour geek or even know your yellow jersey from your polka dot to be part of the fun. It’s three weeks of inspiration that even your noncycling friends could enjoy with promises of postcard scenery and displays of superhuman strength.
If you’ve never been to the Tour de France, it really should be on your bucket list. There is nothing as French as the Tour de France,
Here are a few tips and things you need to know before heading over to the Tour:
1) To fully enjoy the experience, it’s important to manage your expectations: you won’t see much of the actual race by being there. Watching TV is the best way to do that. Being at the Tour is about being part of the show. Soak up the atmosphere and the excitement.
2) Bring your bike. There’s no better way to see the Tour de France (and the most beautiful parts of France) than on a bike. You get to experience the same climbs as the riders do and when they come flying past, you have first-hand experience of what the climb is like and just how fast they are going.
3) Don’t expect everyone in France to be deeply engrossed by the Tour. Sure there is a huge amount of national pride surrounding the race, but most people in France are largely apathetic towards the race … until it comes through their town.
4) Expect large crowds, traffic jams, and long delays. If especially after a stage finish. This is particularly true when the Tour reaches the mountains.
5) If you want a closer look at the riders: stage starts are better than stage finishes. Riders walk about and you can see the team buses, check out the bikes… If you’re lucky, you might know someone who can get you access to the “Village du Tour de France” (the closed-up section where the team buses and riders are in). To get a pass you need to know a race sponsor … or you can sometimes buy one from a travel operator, usually for a few hundred euros.
6) The finish is worth seeing too but requires planning, if you want a roadside spot you’ll need to get there early. Choose wisely: the best spots are near the finish line and within sight of a giant TV screen (so you can watch the race). The publicity caravan will pass and the riders flash by.
7) Outside is free and perhaps the best way to see the race! Pick a scenic spot and enjoy a picnic. But getting there needs planning. The stage route will be closed to traffic in the morning and mountain passes could be closed at dawn.
8) If the weather is good set up camp with food, drink and sit back. You will see some people equipped with folding chairs, an umbrella for shade, perhaps even a TV or a fridge for cold drinks. If it’s bad then a local café is a good idea as it will probably have a TV and everyone will dash out in time for the action.
9) Don’t try to fit too much in. Don’t try to see every stage if you are travelling with your family. If nothing else that would mean a lot of packing and unpacking — not much fun. Pick a town to stay in that will allow you to see two or three stages of the race.
10) If you want to see a mountain top finish, be well prepared: the crowds will be massive. If you’re planning on taking a campervan to a summit finish, you’ll want to be up there days in advance to get a decent spot.
11) Learn a little bit of French. You certainly don’t need to be fluent — but even knowing a few key phrases will open doors for you.
12) Want to see the Paris Finnish? Arrive early to secure a good viewing spot. Be aware of closed Metro stations, if you arrive early you won’t have too much to worry about, but stations along the Champs-Élysées will close for part of the day.
13) The full route details tend to be published on the letour.fr website in May and not before. No need to try and guess, you’ll have plenty of time to make plans for holiday visits.
If you’re looking for a campsites to enjoy the fun, we have a selection near some of the Tour stages:
7-8th July : Camping Le Littoral, or Sequoia Parc
10th July: Stage Sarzeau > La Beaule: Camping Le Moustoir
11th July: Stage Lorient > Quimper: Camping La Plage, L’Atlantique or L’océan Breton
12th July: Stage Brest > Mur de bretagne: Camping Le Ranolien
26-28th July: Camping Ilbarritz or Sylvamar