Originally Posted by bikepro
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.