Featuring unparalleled landscapes, eternal class and endless history, there is no wonder the Tour de France inspires a world-wide surge of wanderlust each year.
Watching one of the world’s greatest races on the TV is exciting, but actually experiencing the race is something else. The atmosphere is completely intoxicating.
The Globetrotter office, we are captivated by the Tour de France. We also can’t get enough of French history, architecture (have you seen Le Mont Saint-Michel?!) and gastronomy.
Chasing the Tour de France is a bucket-list item for many of our clients. In celebration of the Tour de France 2016, we have put together 11 must-read tips for anyone who is planning on chasing le Tour de France.
Un. Know the best stages.
Do you want to see the start? The finish? Mountain climbs? As soon as you know what stages you would like to see the most, you can plan the rest of your tour with these stages as priority.
Our favourite stages are always those that end after a mountain climb. This usually indicates a much harder climb for the riders. The scenery is stunning and the atmosphere captivating.
Deux. Book a tour.
We highly recommend taking a tour as you chase the Tour de France. With many tours offering VIP access, an escorted coach and the opportunity to meet fellow Tour de France enthusiasts, what’s not to love? The tours book out some of the best hotels a year in advance, so depending what leg you intend to chase, it will be worth your while. You don’t have to tour for the whole race, with many tours having options that last a few days. Not sure which tour is best suited to you? Don’t worry, that’s what we’re here for.
Trois. Be early.
No matter what stage you’re spectating– get there as early as possible. This will allow you to have the perfect vantage point. While waiting for the action, you’ll be able to soak up the atmosphere that is what the Tour de France is famous for. Why not eat a baguette, too?
Quatre. Pack your Pan Bagnant and other essentials.
You’ll probably find yourself waiting. And hungry. Pick up a Pan Bagnant (French picnic sandwhich), a croissant, a few baguettes and some cheese. Don’t forget the wine. You’ll want the essentials.
We also recommend taking some walking shoes, a rain jacket and something warm to wear… if there is room with your Parisian treats and wine.
Cinq. Experience “the Caravan”.
It will be busy. People will be everywhere. It’s likely there will be a stampede. It will be worth every single minute.
The Caravan is a procession of the official Tour de France sponsor’s floats or vehicles at the beginning of each race day. The sponsors pass out what seems like an endless supply of goodies. Even if giveaways aren’t your thing, experiencing the Caravan is part of the Tour de France experience. Its worth braving the crowd, even if just once.
Six. Get up close with the teams.
It doesn’t get more real than being part of the race day atmosphere than feeling the nerves and excitement of the teams. You can see the riders, their support crew and their bikes and equipment laid out and ready to go.
There are two times you can do this – at the start or finish of each race stage. Don’t even think about trying to approach mid-leg. We recommend that you get up early and be part of the team atmosphere at the beginning of each race stage as you will have more time and the riders won’t be too exhausted.
Sept. Spectate a stage.
When spectating a stage, we recommend that you don’t choose one near the beginning of the race. The reason for this is simple. You’ll spend hours waiting for the peloton, only to see it race past in the space of a few minutes. By spectating one later in the race, you’ll get more action for your time.
The Tour de France website makes the daily timetable available. It includes the race stages and estimated arrival times of the riders. Downloading it will make planning your time a lot easier.
Huit. Stay out of the way of riders.
You simply don’t want to cause a peloton pile-up. Image the headlines. Plus, it will be painful. Respect the race and enjoy your experience by staying out of the way.
Neuf. Note the rest days.
The Tour de France rest days are a fantastic time to venture off the beaten track and explore the wonderful France. Make sure you know when they are so you can plan to visit a chateau, a museum, a cheese cave or take a wine tour. A beautiful pinot is all part of the experience, after all.
Dix. Check your fitness and get on your bike.
Are you planning on cycling as part of your tour? Let’s face it, we’re not all professional athletes. Cycling up the Pas de Peyrol isn’t for everyone, but if you know your fitness level (and are realistic about it), you really can enjoy the experience of cycling through France.
It is well worth considering all your options for bike hire. With cycling being such a large part of French culture, there are many options for hiring bikes. You will be able to hire one that meets your needs, whether you need high range gears for a mountain climb or a bike to get you to the start line for the day.
Don’t forget to ask about bike maintenance, spare tires and important safety information.
Onze. Extend your trip.
Wanderlust knows no limits, especially in France. We recommend you plan to extend your trip beyond the Tour de France. With endless history, charm and romance, France will capture your heart and you’ll never want to leave. Stay tuned for our Top Ten Places to Visit in France!
Be prepared to embrace the crowds, the hustle and bustle, the noise… it’s all part of the experience! Come feed your wanderlust and plan your Tour de France with us.