Want to celebrate the 105th birthday of the Tour de France in person? The race is one of the most popular sporting events in the world, and there’s nothing quite like experiencing the electric atmosphere for yourself. Getting a good view of your cycling idols as they battle it out in person is actually much easier than you might think, with the 3329 km route providing plenty of opportunities for good vantage points to suit all tastes. Here, you’ll find our top tips for travelling to the Tour de France 2018.
1. Find your spot on the Tour de France 2018 route
One of the best ways to find a viewpoint is to drive along your chosen route a few days before the race. If you’re planning to make a day of it, it’s a good idea to pick a spot with a town or village within walking distance where you can stay – this way you can also make use of the toilet facilities throughout the day. In terms of vantage points, try to set yourself up on a hill – this will ensure you get a better view of your favourite riders, rather than a blur as they whiz down a slope.
2. Planning a quick stop to watch the Tour de France 2018
If you’re hoping to drop in on some of the action for an hour or two, remember that many locals will flock to the cobbled sections days in advance. It may be a better idea to choose a less challenging point along the route, again opting to park in a nearby town or village where you can walk to the action – that way you can avoid the crowds if you decide to leave early.
3. Watching the Grand Départ 2018
This year, the Grand Départ takes place on Noirmoutier – a small island about half a mile from the coast of western France. The riders will cross the bridge to the mainland before embarking on the 195km cycle to Fontenay-le-Comte. There’s always an exciting atmosphere at the start of the Tour, but this also comes with large crowds. It’s a good idea to park at a nearby village, such as Beauvoir-sur-Mer, and walk to the heart of the action.
4. Watching the finale in Paris
The heart of Paris is always packed for the final stage, so you’ll need to get set up incredibly early to get a good view. A spot on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées will be crowded, but the roads are wide and you can generally still get a good view. For a quieter place, try Rue de Rivoli. You’ll be able to see the riders pass through several times from both vantage points. Metro stations will be closed early, so be sure you’re able to walk (or cycle) to your chosen area.
5. Road closures for the Tour de France
Roads are often closed to allow riders to compete safely, so if you travel to the Tour de France, you may come across some diversions. The best way to keep informed on this is to contact a local authority in advance. A local government office, tourist board or even hotels will usually be able to tell you exactly what time the closures will start and end.
6. Time your trip with the rest days
If you’re hoping to make more of a holiday of your trip, you might consider timing it to coincide with the rider rest days. This gives you more time to relax and explore the surrounding area, or to move on to the next stage without the rush.
7. Tour de France with the family
Watching the Tour de France can be a long day, but if you plan it right, the whole family will love it. Find a quieter spot where you can park on the side of the road and make a day of it – arrive early to nab a good area on the route before taking a walk in the surrounding area. Don’t forget to pack a picnic and garden chairs, and place yourself near a village with a café and areas for the kids to play so that everyone gets plenty of variety throughout the day.
8. Finding accommodation
Accommodation for the Tour de France is always booked up months in advance, so it pays to act early. If you’ve left it later, you could try looking for rentals just outside of the popular areas, and take your bicycle with you to cover the extra miles. A caravan can also be a good idea, especially if you’re travelling with kids so they can sleep throughout the day. If you choose a quieter stage, you can park off-road if you get there early enough.
Tour de France 2018 route
Stage 1 – Sat 7 Jul – Noirmoutier-en-l’Île to Fontenay-le-Comte, 189 km (flat)
Stage 2 – Sun 8 Jul – Mouilleron-Saint-Germain to La-Roche-sur-Yon, 185 km (flat)
Stage 3 – Mon 9 Jul – Cholet to Cholet, 35 km (team time trial)
Stage 4 – Tues 10 Jul – La Baule to Sarzeau, 192 km (flat)
Stage 5 – Weds 11 Jul – Lorient to Quimper, 203 km (hills)
Stage 6 – Thurs 12 Jul – Brest to Mûr-de-Bretagne, 181 km (hills)
Stage 7 – Fri 13 Jul – Fougéres to Chartres, 231 km (flat)
Stage 8 – Sat 14 Jul – Dreux to Amiens, 181 km (flat)
Stage 9 – Sun 15 Jul – Arras to Roubaix, 154 km (cobbles)
Mon 16 Jul – Rest day
Stage 10 – Tues 17 Jul – Annecy to Le Grand-Bornand, 159 km (mountains)
Stage 11 – Weds 18 Jul – Albertville to La Rosière, 108 km (mountains)
Stage 12 – Thurs 19 Jul – Bourg-Saint-Maurice to Alpe d’Huez, 175 km (mountains)
Stage 13 – Fri 20 Jul – Bourg d’Oisans to Valence, 169 km (flat)
Stage 14 – Sat 21 Jul – Saint-Paul-Trois-Chateaux to Mende, 187 km (hilly, flat start)
Stage 15 – Sun 22 Jul – Milau to Carcassonne, 181 km (hilly)
Mon 23 Jul – Rest day
Stage 16 – Tues 24 Jul – Carcassonne to Bagnères-de-Luchon, 218 km (mountains, flat start)
Stage 17 – Weds 25 Jul – Bagnères-de-Luchon to Col de Portet, 65 km (mountains)
Stage 18 – Thurs 26 Jul – Trie-sur-Baïse to Pau, 172 km (flat)
Stage 19 – Fri 27 Jul – Lourdes to Laruns, 200 km (mountains)
Stage 20 – Sat 28 Jul – Saint-Pée-sur-Nivelle to Espelette , 31 km (Individual Time Trials, hills)
Stage 21 – Sun 29 Jul – Houilles – Champs-Élysées (Paris), 115 km (flat)
Travelling to the Tour de France 2018? Book your crossing from Dover to Calais today!