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Old 11-03-08, 11:37 AM   #1
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Tour de France - In person spectating?

I'm planning on taking meself and the wife to France this year to see the TDF. Anybody have any tips or tricks or advice to seeing the race in person? I'd like to see at least one mt stage (somewhere on the ride up the stage) and maybe the finish in Paris.

Any thoughts are greatly appreciated!

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Old 11-03-08, 12:46 PM   #2
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Get there early; as in a day or two early for the mountain climbs. This has been covered before so a Search might help you out.
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Old 11-03-08, 06:26 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by bbattle View Post
Get there early; as in a day or two early for the mountain climbs. This has been covered before so a Search might help you out.
Over the years the trend seems to be the roads in the mountians get closed to traffic earlier and earlier. So find out when they will get closed this year, don't depend on when the road was closed last time the tour took that route.
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Old 11-08-08, 09:24 PM   #4
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I did it in 2005. I stayed near Rennes les Chateau and rode all around that part and France for a couple weeks. A couple days down into the Pyrenees and up the Port de Pailheres, one of which was to see the Tour go over. Access was the least of my concerns on a bike. Issues you have are adequate water supplies, food, protection from the heat, the climb itself. Its easily my favorite day on a bike, and one of my favorite days in my life.

In a car its an entirely different matter. Access will be an issue. You'll need to drive up there at least a day in advance to get a decent spot of your choice, and you may need two or more if its a finishing mountain, one of the greats, or one predicted to be a pivotal climb.

As others have said, find out ahead of time when certain routes close. The day I intersected the Tour, the Pailheres was not the finish. It continued onwards to Ax les Thermes. Cars were backed up on the lower slopes some 3-4 hours before the peloton came through, while I was riding up. There was no traffic at all on the upper slopes and I suspect the road up there had been closed a lot longer. There were of course many cyclists riding up until the very last minute.

Get your accommodations very early. Start looking now. Book it soon. If you are riding up, you've got a few logistical challenges like getting your bike in there to your place of stay. I strongly suggest a hard case. Pack goodies (soft of course) inside with the bike and be mindful of the airlines weight limit lest you get held up at the airport trying to unpack that thing. Have a Camelback or something similar. The heat was brutal and water needs were excessively high. On the climb, many onlookers will give a passing cyclist water and cheer you on, just as though you were in the Tour (which was fun), but I had some 50 miles or so to go to the base of the mountain, and the ride back to do as well. Sunblock is a must. It was brutal up there that day.

In a car, I havent too much advice I am afraid. On a bike you can ride around up there until they motion you off the road, and that was only moments before the lead rider came through. A lot more sitting and waiting in a car. Either way, its a truly memorable day.

Good luck!
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Old 11-22-08, 11:49 AM   #5
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Lots of good advice already. We drove from Paris to Alpe D'Hues and stayed at a small hotel at the top of the mountain. It was fun, but parking is a problem. Also, book a room really early. We got lucky and picked up a cancellation.
The town turns into a European party with people from everywhere. We were given finish line tickets, but hiked down the mountain to watch in an uncrowded area. Got up the next day and went down to Bourge D'Osain to watch the start of the next stage. That was the day Phil bonked.
The finish in Paris is packed. Streets are closed and barriers are everywhere. Get there early if you want a good spot and mobility. Crowd is 10 deep along the Champs D'Eleyse. Go back towards the Touleries and you can be right on the fence, fewer people, and you can get to see all the lead out set ups. We were right atthe 1k flag. have fun. It was the first race I ever got my wife to go to and she loved it. Where ever you watch from, get there early enough to see the caravan, it's a party all of it's own.
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Old 11-22-08, 01:31 PM   #6
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How far ahead of the race is the caravan? From the random TV pics it looks like it could be an hour or more.
Stupidity got us into this mess - why can't it get us out?

- Will Rogers
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Old 11-22-08, 02:02 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by surfjimc View Post
... That was the day Phil bonked...
Which year? Which Phil?
In search of what to search for.
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Old 11-24-08, 11:29 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by DMF View Post
How far ahead of the race is the caravan? From the random TV pics it looks like it could be an hour or more.
More like 2-3 hours.
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