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2013 Tour - the 100th Tour de France - will set off on the island of
Corsica, and finish in Paris. that much is known... More in the Autumn
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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...
The 2012 Tour is now over, and for the first time ever the race was won
by a Briton. Favourite Bradley
won the 99th Tour de France, ahead of fellow Briton and team mate Chris
Froom. The final day of the race was a great day for British cyclists,
with Mark Cavendish, another UK contestant, winning the day's leg.
French cyclists were not left out of the results
has become a completely international event. Two up-and-coming French
riders came in in the top ten, and French rider Thomas Voeckler won the
mountain stages title.
de France route map by About-France.com .
permitted only by permission.
of the 2012 Tour de France
Belgium, the Tour is in France
from stage 3 onwards. From 3rd
- 5th July, riders will be in northern
France; from the 6th -
9th July they will be in rather hillier eastern
France, with, in particular, a finish at the summit of La Planche in
the Vosges mountains on Sat 7th. The first time trials are around
Besançon, in the Franche Comté region on Monday
From 11th July to 13th
riders will be attacking the
high hills of the Bugey and the Alps. France's national day,
14th July, will see them sweating it out in the dry Mediterranean
hinterland, between St. Paul Trois Chateaux, in the Rhone valley, and
Cap d'Agde on the Languedoc coast.
From 15th -
19th July, the race comes to the
Pyrenees, firstly the foothills, then the high Pyrenees. On
riders head north from Blagnac - a suburb of Toulouse - to
Brive la Gaillarde, through the gentle hills of Gascony and Quercy.
Then it's back for two days close to Paris, Saturday 21st for
time trials near Chartres, and Sunday
for the final sprint from
Rambouillet to the finish on the Champs Elysées.
Click for Cycling in
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.
A guide to cycling in France: rules, long-distance cycle routes,
essential cycling vocabulary, and more
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 2012 Tour de France route
stage by stage
(towns, regions) and terrain
||Sat 30th June
||Liège - Belgium
Seraing (Belgium) - mixed
||Mon 2 July
Tournai - fairly flat
- Boulogne sur Mer (Nord - Pas de Calais)
fairly flat, some small hills
||Wed 4 July
hills and valleys
- Saint Quentin (Picardy)
- undulating then flat
||Fri 6 July
||Epernay (Champagne) - Metz (Lorraine) -
flattish to undulating
||Sat 7 July
La Planche des Belles Filles (Franche
Comté) - hilly, getting steeper - arrival at a
summit in the
||Sun 8 July
- Porrentruy (Switzerland) - hills and valleys
||Mon 9 July
Senans - Besançon
Time trials - gently hilly
||Macon (Burgundy) -
Bellegarde sur Valserine (Rhône-Alpes)
flat, then properly hilly
- La Toussouire (Rhône-Alpes)
First Alpine stage - mountainous. Summit finish
Jean de Maurienne - Annonay (Rhône-Alpes)
Second Alpine stage - less mountainous
Trois Châteaux (Rhône-Alpes)
- Cap d'Agde (Languedoc-Roussillon)
Mediterranean hills - could be very hot.
- Foix (Midi-Pyrénées)
Samatan (Midi-Pyrénées) -
- Bagnères de Luchon (Midi-Pyrénées) -
into the Pyrenees. Mountainous
de Luchon - Peyragudes (Midi-Pyrénées)
- Mountainous. Summit finish
- Brive la Gaillarde (Limousin)
- fairly flat at first, then hilly
- Chartres (Région
Centre) - virtually flat - Time
(Ile de France)
Total length: 3,479 km
the record: route of
the The Tour de France 2008 : Tour de France 2009
de France 2010 : Tour de France 2011
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