Saddle up and get ready for cycling’s premier event! The Tour de France is a masterful combination of speed, spandex and spokes that never fails to elicit an adrenaline rush from its spectators.
Three weeks of wide open bike action across the vast mountains and beautiful landscapes of France starts in Germany on 1st July. How about a holiday to take in that view? Here are five ideas...
1st - 2nd July
The competitors strap in for the first time in Germany’s enchanting Rhine-set city. To be there for the race start and witness firsthand the tyres spin off on their competitive voyage is a great excuse to get acquainted with one of the country’s most cultured, interesting locations. Visit the crystalline waters of the nearby waterfalls, take in the 13th century castle tower or feast your peepers on a stunning 360˚ bird’s eye view of the city whilst enjoying a meal at the Rhine Tower.
Belfort, near La Planche des Belles Filles
The wondrous Vosges mountain range is the now traditional incline to beat for the competitors. Just a few days into the tour and the cyclists have to crunch their calves to beat the sometime 20% gradient and reach this ski range summit.
Rather than the ski lodge itself, why not stay in nearby Belfort? It’s a peaceful city with classically historical European architecture, wonderfully preserved citadel remains and the famous stone-carved Lion (by the Statue of Liberty’s designer, no less). Or simply enjoy a coffee in one of the many eateries or take a French delicacy in one of the town’s traditional restaurants.
A onetime Alpine Town of the Year, this ancient and delightful city looks like it just fell out of a fairytale. A striking, relaxing yet quintessentially French character town to unwind your days, it boasts boutique museums, a splendid 16th century cathedral and is surrounded by awe-inspiring scenery. Bring your walking boots for some countryside rambles.
Chambéry is hosting the finishing spot for the Jura leg of the gruelling race. With its winding roads and final descent, the cyclists will be looking forward to seeing off this mountainous challenge. Why not toast their endeavours with a glass or two of the local wine?
Home to the now nail biting inter-city stage, Marseille plays host to the individual time trials. It’s a race through the cobbled urban streets, past the Viet-Port harbour and an energy-sapping climb past the grand majesty of the Notre-Dame de la Garde. A late game-changer that can strip the winning team of their famous yellow attire, all eyes will be on Marseille as the riders come through the legendary Stade Vélodrome.
Marseille is a tourist’s delight, with a wealth of attractions that could keep a visitor busy for weeks. The port thrums with an invigorating bustle and turquoise waters, whilst the city’s embarrassment of museums and ancient chateaus are glorious brain food for any fact-hungry historian. Spellbinding.
So to the finale of the race, through the capital’s iconic Champs-Élysée. Parisians line the streets excitedly and turn the city’s atmosphere from vibrant to positively electric. France’s national character rarely undersells its passion and it’ll be in plentiful supply here at the race’s finish.
Needless to say, Paris isn’t a city in which you’re allowed to become bored. Whether gawping at the view from the top of the Eiffel Tower, admiring its intricate architecture or taking in the buzz of the street from a café, Paris is a holiday destination with limitless attraction.
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