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Old 07-22-12, 07:13 PM   #1
mothman
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tips for visiting le tour

I'm planning on visiting le tour de france next year. The three stages i'd most likely want to see would be the alpe d'huez stage, one of the individual TT's, and the finish in paris. what tips do you have other than that?
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Old 07-22-12, 07:24 PM   #2
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I'm so glad someone started this thread. I'm planning to go too. I am going to look into organized groups that take you from place to place, and price it against just picking a few spots to see it myself. Today watching the end I realized I need to go to Paris and see the last stage finish there too. Wasn't sure I was going to do that but now I think that's a must too.
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Old 07-23-12, 06:46 PM   #3
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Bump, because I'm hoping to make two weeks of this next summer as well. Hopefully one week riding one week watching Le Tour.
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Old 07-23-12, 08:02 PM   #4
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I bet there's one or more tour groups that go there for the TdF. If you've never been to France, this might be a better way to go. Of course, if you've spent half your life in France and French is you second 'native' language, going alone would be fine.
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Old 07-27-12, 06:48 PM   #5
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I bet there's one or more tour groups that go there for the TdF. If you've never been to France, this might be a better way to go. Of course, if you've spent half your life in France and French is you second 'native' language, going alone would be fine.
I have been on my own for the past 2 years. Last year in the Pyrenees, then Nice, then the Alps. This year just in the Pyrenees.

It is not hard at all to arrange.

You need to make a call as to whether you're going for little bit of Tour, a little bit of cycling, a little bit of sightseeing, or a combination of all 3.

Any time you want to see a stage of the tour, it's pretty much an all-day event (but the best way is to incorporate your ride into it - eg. drive to 30-40kms away from the stage and ride the rest of the way).

You would generally need to be in position about 3 hours before the riders are going to come through (the caravan (you really want to see this, it's a hoot!!) comes through about 90 minutes before the riders) as the police often close off the roads, sometimes even to cyclists.

If you're looking to see the mountain stages ( best viewing as the peloton is strung out and they're going slower), there are less crowds on the earlier climbs of the day (and you can then ride back on the route the riders have just done also if that takes your fancy).

I found that the best way is to stay in a largish town close to the mountains and use that as a base for several days, 'commuting' each day to the mountains/stages. It's the easiest way to get a reasonable hotel. Of course staying too close to the tour can make it very hard/expensive to get a hotel.

Some of the rumours about next year's tour route say that they plan on visiting every region of France. Seeing as the first 3 stages are confirmed as being in/on Corsica, and stage 4 a TTT in Nice, it doesn't seem like the tour is going to be able to spend very long in any one place next year (it spent 5 days in the Pyrenees this year for example) which will make it harder to follow around.

In terms if the riding, if you want a pure riding experience, you may be best to ride some of the big climbs on a day that isn't a tour day so that you can see them in their natural state.

Hopefully this info helps a little bit.
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Old 07-28-12, 05:33 AM   #6
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The previous poster has some great info. For mountain towns I would highly recommend Grenoble as it's decently connected and is an amazing location for cycling. Let me know if you want more specific info about the city.
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Old 07-28-12, 06:24 AM   #7
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The previous poster has some great info. For mountain towns I would highly recommend Grenoble as it's decently connected and is an amazing location for cycling. Let me know if you want more specific info about the city.
Thanks for the compliment.

I stayed in Grenoble (Voreppe to be specific) last year and found it reasonably convenient, however a bit of a hike at the end of each day if a long ride. Also it would depend on what climbs one was looking to do. Briancon would also be quite a good place to stay (more convenient to Galibier, Montgenevre, Sestrieres, Izoard and probably closer to Alp d'Huez too). Grenoble is definitely a good spot for sightseeing etc. as well, and there's some great rides directly out from the city too.

In the Pyrenees, I would favour Tarbes (for both sides of Tourmalet, Aspin/Peyresourde, Luz Ardiden) and Pau for Soulor, Aubisque and the climbs further out to the west (some of the climbs out to the west are rarely/never used by the tour, but are brilliant and easily as good as the better known climbs more favoured by the tour)

Lourdes is also very convenient, and has more hotel rooms than any French city outside of Paris, but it can be slightly depressing given the number of people in the town searching for divine intervention for whatever it is that ails them from the religious facilities there.

Argeles-Gazost is also very central, particularly to the tour (it's halfway between Aubisque & Tourmalet), but is small and can therefore be hard to get a decently priced hotel.

Same as the previous poster, i'm happy to provide further specifics if anyone wants the information.
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