Spectating at the Tour De France with the family

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  • Spectating at the Tour De France with the family
  • 33tango

    Hi All

    I would like to catch some of the Tour De France this year. It looks like it we will be able to go during the last week of the tour, i.e. from 15th July.

    The holiday is a family holiday and its important that the kids (4 and 8 ) enjoy themselves, so we need accommodation with a pool, etc.

    I’m not too fussed about going to a start of a stage, just as long as the races passes through the location we will be staying in 🙂

    Can anyone advise me on this? Do you think I am being realistic about getting a cheap family holiday, with good facilities along the latter stages of the tour route?

    It’ll be hell on earth this year – 100th anniversary!!

    Forget about finding accomodation along the route this year. I suspect that all the campsites will be fully booked by now too. Maybe next year!!

    Premier Icon nickjb

    Shouldn’t be tricky at all if you aren’t hoping to see a classic climb or good finish and are willing to be a little way away. It’s very long and goes through some empty bits of France. We stayed at a friends house near Toulouse a few years back and could easily drive to within a couple of minutes walk of where it went by. In that sort of area cheap gites/campsites are plentiful. The main road gets shut and the side roads become car parks. We were at a spot where it whistled by fairly quickly but it was a great experience and we were within touching distance of the riders.


    Premier Icon crazy-legs

    If you’re taking kids to the roadside, make sure you’ve got umbrellas, folding chairs, food and drink! That’s good practice anyway but it counts double with kids!

    Depends where you’re going. Places like Alpe d’Huez will fill up solid a week in advance, bits of it will be fairly quiet and easy access but if you’re watching on a flat stage, the peloton will whistle past in 20 seconds!

    Premier Icon 40mpg

    Try to pick somewhere where you can see bits of a couple of stages. I’ve done this a couple of times and again this year – Luckily St Malo is a quick hop over the channel on the ferry for me, just bike, rucksack and cheap hotel.

    Then I’ll see the end of the St Malo stage, cycle 35 miles up to Mont St Michel the following day to watch the TT, and back for teh ferry home.

    As above, if you’re not staying in a stage finish town you’ll be fine. Even if you are, chances are you will be OK as the circus will be moving on overnight, especially if there’;s a transfer to the next stage.

    Only busy places will be in the mountains or Paris, the rest of France is spectated mostly by locals.


    Don’t let the kids run out to grab stuff thrown by the caravan, and watch out for fast-moving police motorbikes etc.

    The caravan goes by ages before the peloton, and the first sign of the race approaching is the helicopters.

    You’ll be by the side of the road for ages, the riders will go by in a blur and it’ll be ace.

    Premier Icon mattjg

    All of the above.

    It’s a day out, the moment the riders pass is just a fragment, and you will have no idea what’s happening unless you have access to commentary.

    If you can get to the ITT day it last for longer and you will see more (we were at Annecy a couple of years ago).

    The kids will mostly enjoy the caravan swag. For optimal swaggage have them stand alone (away from other kids), at a place the caravan slows down (ie uphill) and they are prominent (ie outside of a bend). They will get enthusiastic so as above, watch their safety.

    Another tip (we did this), find a bar on the route and settle in there. Watch it on the telly, step outside to see it pass then step back in again! Station someone inside filming the telly and you may be on it!

    Finally have realistic expectations about the amount of faff compared to what you actually see, and roll with it.

    Premier Icon mugsys_m8

    It’ll be fine and great and everyone will love it. Do it. But don’t let it dictate too much of the holiday.

    …and don’t get any romantic ideas about a night on top of a deserted col the night before.

    simon side

    The last time they went up Mt Ventoux(for example)the roads were closed 6 hours earlier than publicised because of excess spectators….
    The implication being where ever you go, get there early…


    it’ll be busy, it’s Le Tour; but do it, you won’t regret it.

    Try to get at least part way up a mountain for that proper tour feel. Much better than them just whizzing past you on a dual carriageway somewhere.

    Wiggo; Grand Colombiere

    Froome Dog: La Toussuire

    Cav: Col du Granier


    Try and get to the ITT. We stayed in a cheap hotel complex in Chartres with four teams, met Cav, Millar and most of the Sky team last year. And of course it was the day Wiggins confirmed his win, so quite a British invasion. Surprising access to the riders – Nibali had to ride his bike back to the hotel through the crowds 😯 . A great day out.


    Last year they had free campsites (on airfields and sports grounds) at the end of each stage (gotta love the Europeans for their camping and caravanning). We got there the night before, camped, then walked down and set up for the day a few hundred metres from that day’s finish line by the big screen so we could follow the action all day. It was awesome. Loads to see and do all day. I’d fully recommend this unless there’s a specific climb or spot you want. I’ve camped out on side of mountains before, but this was way more fun throughout the day. Plus there’s toilets, food stands, free gifts and shops to amuse the kids/wife if they get bored.

    Tom KP


    Do it, well worth it as long as you pick a good spot. Try anything on a hill or near a feedstation as they tend to be a little slower, pointless on a long straight, they will just flash past. Cycling Weekly normally does a TdF guide with a break down of individual stages, it is well worth buying. Schoolboy error on my part with it, first time we went, we arrived at the stage about an hour and a half before the riders were expected through. Didn’t think that the times in the magazine had been converted to UK time, meant we had quite a lot of waiting 😳

    As has been said above, take something to keep the children amused, they do get bored quickly. If possible try to pick a quiet place for the Caravan and again as has been pointed out above, watch the children as they are liable to get run over if you are not careful. It is a great experience and well worth the effort, even my (at the time) non cycling 11-year old daughter got wrapped up in the whole thing and she is now a confirmed fan, shame it is Andy Schleck she likes!

    1-30 a[/url] P1010520-001 by higthepig, on Flickr[/img]


    The start is always good as you get to see the riders signing on and can quite often get autographs.

    We did the champs elysees a few years ago with the kids. It was manic but you do get to see the riders go by several times. Quite a carnival atmosphere if you do not mind the crowds. You can get up to 6 deep on the barriers but we managed to bag a good view on a bank’s window sill!! Toilets are a problem though!!

    The champs elyssess is manic, and really busy. i’ve stood on place de la concorde twice, and had a real good time. got there about 9, and stayed there all day.
    Lance was doing his winning and there were thousands of americans. i wouldn’t have wanted to do that with children.

    I’m thinking of going to a smaller town finish next time. the key stages will all be really busy, and possibly not fun for children.

    From experience, I’d say forget about trying to get within the last km of a stage finish. We did this many years ago when I was a nipper on holiday with my parents. Spent about six hours waiting, got squeezed out of our optimal viewing place in the scrum of people arriving about half an hour before the race was due, then when the riders come through they’re going that fast you barely see anything.

    That said, I’ve since watched on the Champs Elysees a couple of times, both times about 50m from the turn at the Arc de Triomphe end, and it’s a spectacle I’ll never forget. You used to be frightening close to the riders when they’re riding on the slabs in the gutters (think the inevitable breakaway in the last few laps). I think they position the crowd barriers back from the curb a little bit more these days! It does require settling in for a long day of waiting, and putting aside all politeness in order to defend your spectating location, so perhaps a tall order if your kids are not cycling fans. Thanks to my parents, I was indoctrinated from birth, so was happy to stand around for hours.

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