Planning a day trip to watch Paris - Roubaix this year. Having trouble finding timings though for race arrival in Roubaix. Anyone able to help please ?
Also, any advice from anyone who's been to watch before would be greatly appreciated. What are the chances of actually getting into the velodrome without arriving stupidly early ? Also, was hoping to try and get to a cobbled section that will also allow time to then jump in the car and watch the finish in Roubaix too. Thanks in advance for any tips or advice.

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Have tried to watch this race myself, I think you are doing the right thing by doing research. I took a bike, rode some of the course and had a great few days. Riding it is a must, after a few minutes I could feel my brain being vibrated in my skull (or thats how it felt) and my hands went numb. The 'bunch' tends to come through in bits meaning that it is not just a quick wizz past and then a few cars etc. meaning that just watching the race go past once is not as bad as it seems. Many seem to watch the race at a couple of selected points and retire to somewhere where they can watch on a big screen. Would think that the more famous the view point, the more difficult to move on to another because of crowds. Don't know about the velodrome, but I think it has a big screen. Personally when I go again I will go for a watch once or twice and big screen option. It is the greatest of all races for me! Good luck

posted by SideBurn [913 posts]
2nd March 2012 - 12:17

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Went out there with IG Markets last year (report here:

Left Compiegne after the start (lots of opportunity to mill around and perv over bikes there plus wave the riders off), then it was up the motorway to Sector 26 (which you'll see from the pics wasn't busy at all).

Of course if you're driving over from the UK, the extra hundred miles or so from the start to first section of pave might make it academic as to whether you wanted to catch start (which would mean a overnight in Compiegne too).

Next stop was the Arenberg, car park we found was a mile or so from the actual road and we got there with maybe 10 minutes to spare - our driver was from this part of France, by the way.

Back onto the autoroute to head up to Lille/Roubaix, our vehicle had accreditation so we were able to whizz up the last short section of pave in the centre of Roubaix and park up near the velodrome, maybe had 20 mins to half an hour before Van Summeren rode in.

Yes, there is a big screen at the velodrome, the atmostphere there is great, not sure how early the last places go though.

Obviously you'd need to factor in time for parking and getting to the velodrome, and from the little I saw of Roubaix away from the race, you want to be careful where you park.

Your biggest problem in trying to follow the race is going to be parking somewhere nearby each sector, given the numbers that will be at each one and the fact that a lot of people will have got there early to get the best spots.

Have to say while the Arenberg was a fantastic experience, if I were doing it myself I'd probably look at trying to get somewhere more accessible. Oh, but - there is a big screen there, too, so maybe if you weren't too fussed at heading to Roubaix, stop and linger there?

From memory, finish was 4.30-ish last year? It was certainly ample time to get to Lille for 6.30 Eurostar and have burger and pint at the Oirish pub in the station.

I know someone who did the trip independently last year, I'll see if they can make a comment here about how they went about it.

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [9510 posts]
2nd March 2012 - 13:03


Following on from what Simon said...
Speaking from experience I would say you need to decide whether you want to watch en-route or at the velodrome. You can do both but only really with race accreditation as once you start getting near the velodrome you will run in to closed road after closed road.
The iconic stretches of pave - such as the Arenberg forest get busy very quickly and once you're in, you're unlikely to get out in time to see the race elsewhere.
It's always great to see the race depart from Compiegne - if you can get there for the Saturday there's a team presentation from 2pm where you can get close up to the riders.
Last year we watched the race depart, then headed for the first section of pave - it's a fair distance away so you can get there in plenty of time. We then 'chased the race' and saw it in 6 different places.
There are places within the final few kms that have big screens up in their grounds where you can watch, run out to see the race pass, then head back in to see the finish. I would echo what Simon said though - Roubaix is not the nicest area in the world and a couple of years ago we witnessed a car being broken in to and I have also heard stories of bikes being stolen from roof racks as well.
Personally, I would say your best bet is to decide what your priorities are - velodrome, iconic pave or seeing as much of the race as possible and then take it from there. If you want to chase the race, get yourself a really good map of the area - not all maps show the pave sections - try and get hold of a copy of the technical manual (via the website) and have a good navigator and go from there!!
Hope that helps - if you need any more specific advice just ask away!

kubed's picture

posted by kubed [9 posts]
2nd March 2012 - 15:07

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Oh yeah, maps - by far the best are the IGN Top25 1:25,000 series:

Click on the map of France on the right to zoom in on specific regions.

Stanfords has shops in London (Covent Garden) and Bristol, I'd ring ahead if you're going to make a special trip though.

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [9510 posts]
2nd March 2012 - 16:09

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Thanks all for all the advice, really appreciated. I think, having read all of it, that I'll just content myself with a day out at the velodrome and a picnic to be safe, seeing as I have kids in tow. I'll risk being stressed on the roads trying to chase the race for several sightings for another year maybe.

posted by memories of meseeuw [35 posts]
7th March 2012 - 0:56

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Well? How was it??

posted by SideBurn [913 posts]
8th April 2012 - 16:26


SideBurn wrote:
Well? How was it??

You a bit keen aren't you?

The race has only just finished and if they were over watching it, i wouldn't expect a report for a couple of days Big Grin

Gkam84's picture

posted by Gkam84 [9362 posts]
8th April 2012 - 17:44

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Aye gkam, but remember it's now the age of social networking. Memories has probably set up camp in a wine bar with free wifi. So nae worries there. Wink

giff77's picture

posted by giff77 [1186 posts]
8th April 2012 - 18:26


Made it back ok, and had a great day out.

Despite massive temptation to see some pavé I did stick to taking it easy and just going for the velodrome. With the whole family in tow, which includes a 3 yr old and a 7yr old amongst our 4 kids, I'm glad I kept it simple as rushing around would have just proved impossible.

Enjoyed the stroll up the last cobbled section near the velodrome and reading all the cobbles with past winners on. The feeling when the crowd roared as Boonen entered the track was something really special. Huge cheers too when the big screen coverage showed him smiling at the camera and holding up 4 fingers once he knew his 4th victory was in the bag. Those Belgian fans do love their fancy dress and a lively day out - and who can blame them Applause

Thanks for all the advice, it's most appreciated. I've had excellent advice elsewhere too and spoke to people today, and certainly when the kids are older, or I just take the older ones, I'll go for some pavé next time - as I'm sure there will be a next time.

Before I go, may I just add - 132 points for my fantasy team today too, so a good day all round Big Grin

posted by memories of meseeuw [35 posts]
9th April 2012 - 0:36


Don't know why the Paris Roubaix gets to me as it does but for me it is THE bike race. If you proposed it today they would automaticly ban you, lock you up with a lovely new jacket that does up at the back and charge money for people to come and laugh/throw stuff at you!

posted by SideBurn [913 posts]
9th April 2012 - 14:27


Doing some research on this too, fly drive from Ireland, and came across this.

The rating are useful for the sections of Pave.

Also the route on google earth looks great.

Pave or Roubaix? Seems both is fairly impossible.
Any good towns villages along the way that might be best to watch the finish before going back to the airport?

_SiD_'s picture

posted by _SiD_ [181 posts]
30th January 2013 - 22:21

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_SiD_'s picture

posted by _SiD_ [181 posts]
30th January 2013 - 22:44

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