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Old 07-17-06, 09:13 AM   #1
chimblysweep
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following the tour through france: tips, ideas, resources

ok, so i'm super-serious about doing this next year, and from what i hear, if i want a room anywhere on the tour route, i need to start now to get one.

so, can anyone help me out here? i don't want to pay some overpriced tour company to do this. i'm an experienced world traveller, but just need some info.
1) when/where will they post the 07 tour route? [1b- where do they post specific roads/routing?]
2) where can you rent rv's from?
3) how do you know about road closings when the tour's coming through?
4) any tips on what works best? rv's are good but gas is expensive. tent camping sounds great, but are we going to be able to find showers somewhere?
5) i'm from the USA but I'm a fan of a norwegian rider. do i wave the flag of my country, or the country of the rider i support?

thanks y'all. i tried three times to get into l'etape du tour and i've given up on waiting to get into that. i just have to go do this.
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Old 07-17-06, 10:26 AM   #2
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1) you can get the TDF route on the TOur's site in October.
2) the way to get in L'Etape de Tour is pay a tour company. Really the only practical way for an american to get a spot in Etape.
3) working with a tour company really is a good idea. They have insight into the route before its public and already have hotels booked, also they're familiar with road closures, best viewing points, traffic etc. If your'e going to try to figure this out yourself, you're going to spend a lot of time fighting the other 1,000,000 people there to watch the Tour. When you pay the overpriced tour company, they do things like set up the RV in the primo spot 3 days early, so you can spend that 3 days riding and watching somewhere else.
Travelling and cycling in France is no big deal for an experienced traveler. Traveling, cycling, and watching the tour in small towns with limited facilities along with a million other people can be tricky. Paying somebody with experience, connections, and inside info is worth it in my opinion. (Heck if you would have paid the tour company, you can have ridden in 3 Etape's by now.)
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Old 07-17-06, 12:39 PM   #3
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thanks for the tips, merlin. i guess, having backpacked through asia, i'm resistant to shelling out cash for someone to do for me what i feel i can do for myself... (note also that i'm 29 and am looking more for a party than some schmancy white table cloth with wine thing)

that said, i guess i should at least see how much cash it would take. any reputable companies you've gone with?
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Old 07-17-06, 01:32 PM   #4
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I just returned to the USA after living there for over three years, and watching a stage or two each year.

If you have an RV, hotels are not an issue. But even if you want a room every once in a while, there are many places not immediately adjacent to the stage route that should be available. You can get the detailed stage routes with timings from the TdF Web site in early 2007 (the general route is published there in October as stated previously).

If you get a few good Michelin maps, along with the detailed routes from the Web site, you can plan to be in the area of the stage almost any time without a problem, unless it is on a mountaintop finish, or over one of the famous bigger climbs. For those you need to get there a few days in advance, stake out your spot, and live there until after the stage is finished.

OTOH, we have taken back roads to the lower slopes of lMV, for example, a couple of hours before they were scheduled to pass by, and had great spots to watch from.

If you plan carefully, some stages allow you to watch twice. For example, at the start, and then by taking a shortcut to intercept them later in the stage. Just be sure that you know the start area, and park where you can gain fast access to the shortcut. Checking out the roads doesn't hurt either.

Enjoy the trip!
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Old 07-17-06, 03:35 PM   #5
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Thanks for the tips!

Where do people who camp/RV take showers??
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Old 07-17-06, 03:40 PM   #6
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Apparently, if you are Didi Senft, you don't.

But there are many trailer and RV parks in France. Google (google.fr is probably the best in this case) will show you a bunch.
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Old 07-17-06, 03:46 PM   #7
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I did Custom Getaways for Etape. Not terribly expensive, but the accomodations were only so so. They did do a good job of hanlding all the details around Etape.

We did Backroads (backroads.com) for the 2003 Tour, and they did a fantastic job, they might be a little more pricey than you're looking for. There are other options that aren't too much more expensive than doing it yourself.
You definitely can do it yourself, I just think if your willing to pay a little more that the big advantage is buying the experience of navigating the logistical nightmare that the Tour can be, especially on the big mountain stages.
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Old 07-18-06, 02:52 PM   #8
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I mean, if it's not much more than DIY, that sounds like a great option. Anyone else know of cut-rate TdF tour companies?
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