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biggest sporting event
is a great tradition in France - specially when it comes to "le Tour".
year, hundreds of thousands of locals and holidaymakers turn up in
spots all round France to watch not just the cyclists, but also the
great "caravan" of floats, cars, media and officals go by...
Following recent revelations over Lance Armstrong, organisers are
hoping that with the hundredth edition of the Tour de France,
cycling can at last come clean and put stories of drugs, doping and
steroids firmly into the past.
de France route map by About-France.com .
permitted only by permission.
of the 2013 Tour de France
The hundredth edition of the Tour de France will
take place totally within France, breaking with the tradition of the
past few years which have included a leg or two in neighbouring
The tour will start, for the first time in the Tour's
history, on the island of Corsica; riders will stay three days, from 1st to 3rd July,
on the beautiful Mediterranean island, before crossing over to the
After that it will cross to the mainland, and 4th July
will see team time trials around the city of Nice, on the French
From then the Tour heads across the Mediterranean
regions of France from the Riviera to the Pyrenees, before jumping to
the the west coast, in the Vendée area. From here the Tour
crosses to the northern coast of Britanny, at Saint Malo.
From St Malo, riders will then make a long
diagonal journey from northwest France back to southeast France, via
Tours, Saint Amand Montrond (known as the geographic centre of France)
The next week will see riders battling it out
against each other in the hills and mountains to the east of the Rhone,
with several Alpine passes and summits to negotiate.
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After that, riders will return by TGV
to the Paris region, for an emblematic final stage between two of
France's most well-known sites, the chateau of Versailles and the
traditional finish on the Champs Elysées in Paris - only to mark
the 100th anniversary, the finish will be a bit less traditional, with
an evening finish at 9.30 p.m. up the Champs Elysées to a
floodlit Arc de Triomphe.
A guide to cycling in France: rules, long-distance cycle routes,
essential cycling vocabulary, and more
The race can be watched anywhere along
near the start of the day's leg, riders tend to be very bunched, and
the actual race passes in about a minute. Towards the end of a leg,
riders are more spaced out, so the thrill of the race lasts longer.
However most of the spectacle comes not from the riders themselves, but
from the "caravan", an hour-or-more long procession of cars, floats and
motorcycles from the Tour's sponsors and the teams. It's all very
commercial, with freebies being thrown out to the spectators; cheap
baseball caps, little packs of sweets, mini-pretzels, keyrings and
other gimmicks. It's interesting to watch, and the kids love it. But if
its the actual race you want to see, then it's far better to watch it
on TV where the cameras follow the riders from start to finish.
Cycling is not just the Tour de France, but is a popular leisure
activity. Click for more information on cycling
in France and France's network of cycleways.
© About-France.com 2009-2012
|The 2013 Tour de France route
stage by stage
(towns, regions) and terrain
||Sat 29th June
||Corsica: Porto-Vecchio - Bastia
- relatively flat coastal plain
||Sun 30th June
Bastia - Ajaccio - across the mountains of central Corsica
||Mon 1 July
Ajaccio - Calvi - hilly terrain along Corsica's rocky northwest coast
||Nice - Nice -
time trials (French Riviera)
|| 25 km
||Wed 3 July
||Cagnes sur Mer
- Marseille (Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region) - hills and
Provence - Montpellier (Languedoc-Roussillon)
- flat with some hills
||Fri 5 July
to Albi (Midi-Pyrénées)
||Sat 6 July
||Sun 7 July
||Saint-Girons - Bagnères-de-Bigorre. (Midi-Pyrénées) Pyrenean
(Pays de la Loire) - Saint-Malo (Brittany)
||Avranches - Mont St Michel, (Normandy) individual time trial, 33km
|| 33 km
(Brittany) - Tours (Région
| 218 km
||Tours - Saint Amand Montrond (Région
Centre) A generally flat leg, terminating in the
town known as the centre of France.
(Auvergne) - Lyon (Rhône-Alpes)
Hilly stage across the Forez mountains -
- Mont-Ventoux - finishing with one of the classic climbs of the Tour
- Gap Hilly stage in the foothills of the Provence Alps and
- Chorges - Time trials
- Alpe d'Huez - Mountainous. Summit finish in the
- Le Grand Bornand - another Alpine stage
||Annecy - Mont
- mountainous course in the foothills of the Alps, with a summit finish.
(Ile de France) - Evening finish on the Champs Elysées
Total length: 3360 km
the record: route of
the The Tour de France 2008 : Tour de France 2009
de France 2010 : Tour de France 2011 Tour de France 2012
almost 200 cyclists, including many of the world's best, the Tour de
France - which first took place in 1903 - is certainly a great sporting
event; nonetheless, it is an event that has been marred - even heavily
marred - in recent years by doping scandals, with cyclists proving
positive in anti-doping tests. The 2008 race was no different from
others, and at a small number of competitors were withdrawn from the
race following a positive doping test.
Yet in spite of the doping scandals, and the withdrawal in
years of certain major teams, the "Tour" goes on, and it is difficult
to imagine how it could not. This mega sporting event is worth millions
of Euros in advertising, sponsorship and worldwide television rights,
attracts millions of spectators, and is one of Europe's great media
For the hundreds of thousands who turn up
to line the route, the cycling is actually only a tiny bit of the show:
While the time-trial races may offer a more long-drawn-out cycling
experience for spectators, with competitors taking part one by one, on
normal race days the riders may go past in just a minute, especially in
the earlier part of a day's leg, before the participants have become
more spaced out. But then, the actual race is just a small part of the
show. Starting some two hours before the race, the "Caravan" is a
cavalcade of floats, decorated cars and other vehicles that moves along
the route, throwing out goodies and free samples to the spectators; it
is a massive advertising stunt. The advertising caravan, made up of the
Tour's official sponsors, is followed by a long line of official cars,
technical vehicles, media and motorbikes, lights flashing, horns
sounding, all warming up the spectators for the actual event itself.
Then, at last, the riders come by - and are gone again as quickly as
they appeared, pounding uphill or downhill at speeds that can reach 50
mph or more. A bit of an anti-climax.... And with that, the day's
excitement is over.
Anyone wanting to watch the race
in a serious manner would be well advised to do so on television; but
for a day's outing, with all the fun of the crowds, the waiting, the
caravan, and the atmosphere, watching the Tour go by is as good as many
other events, and what's more it's free.
The Tour can
be watched all over France, and each year the route is different,
taking in at least one leg in another country.
If you go to watch the Tour, specially with kids,
care! Don't let children stand too close to the road, and never cross
the road while the caravan is passing.
Tourists wanting to book holiday
accommodation along the route are advised to do so early.
Click here for holiday cottages
for bed and
Visit the Official
of the tour de France
Tourist attractions in
France, by region :
France in general:
The main historic monuments
and tourist attractions in France
Follow these links for a more detailed list of major tourist
attractions in the following regions:
Paris tourist attractions
to see and do in Languedoc-Roussillon
attractions in Limousin
sites in the
Tourist attractions in
Tourist sites in the Pays
de la Loire
A brief introduction to the regions of France
Accommodation for the Tour
All hotel rooms
in and around the start and finish points get booked up very fast by
the teams and the media.
To avoid disappointment, check out available hotel rooms as soon as
possible, using the major online portals booking.com