Advice on watching the Tour De France at the roadside?

by mckechan   December 28, 2012  

Hi,

My friends and I plan to watch the Tour De France at the roadside next year. We're targeting the weekend of the 6/7 July and would like to be near the top of the climbs near the end for both stages.

I know that a lot of people actually camp on the roadside overnight to get a good spot. Is this the only way? Have any of you done this before? Would it be worthwhile taking our bikes?

Any advice you can offer would be much appreciated.

Thanks!

12 user comments

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We're hoping to head over for the Alpe D'Huez stage, I'm looking into campsites now but I fear I may have left it too late and will probably end up just throwing a tent on any available piece of land.

posted by farrell [1311 posts]
28th December 2012 - 13:02

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I went a few years ago for a couple of weeks and we only used a campsite once. On the climbs we just found anywhere for our tent, on the 6th there is loads of space on top of the climb up to Ax 3 Domaines at the bottom of the ski slopes, and lots of restaurants, bars etc. so you can just camp at the top. Not sure what climbs they are doing on the 7th, but if its Tourmalet then we camped about half way up, or Aubisque there is space to camp right at the top. Either way it was pretty easy.

And definitely take your bike. It's great riding up the climbs the morning before the race comes.

posted by gillerz960 [13 posts]
28th December 2012 - 14:07

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These are the stages we're aiming for, in detail:
http://www.letour.fr/le-tour/2013/us/stage-8.html
http://www.letour.fr/le-tour/2013/us/stage-9.html

The second has lots of climbs so we don't necessarily need to be on the final ascent.

How do you get up the mountains? When do the roads close, etc.?

Thanks

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posted by mckechan [180 posts]
28th December 2012 - 14:14

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When I went we drove up, the road closes to cars early in the morning I think but it was not always consistent, I think it is best to drive up the day before. It closes to bikes a few hours before the race comes.

posted by gillerz960 [13 posts]
28th December 2012 - 14:31

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I'm not going unfortunately (lack of funds) but could I just ask all you that are that if you fly the union FLAG please please fly/display it the right way round.

FATBEGGARONABIKE's picture

posted by FATBEGGARONABIKE [572 posts]
29th December 2012 - 17:40

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FATBEGGARONABIKE wrote:
I'm not going unfortunately (lack of funds) but could I just ask all you that are that if you fly the union FLAG please please fly/display it the right way round.

Will do. We're actually going for my stag-do, so I may be wearing a Union Jack morph suit Wink

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posted by mckechan [180 posts]
29th December 2012 - 18:40

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Hi again,

Have any of you camped on the roadside in a hotspot before? We have a current plan, but we're not sure if it is realistic as we read elsewhere that you need to setup camp two nights before the stage!

Our current plan is:
1) Friday daytime before, drive directly to our intended spot near the finish of stage 8 the following day:
https://maps.google.co.uk/maps?q=ax-les-thermes&hl=en&ie=UTF8&sll=42.720...

2) As soon as the roads clear after stage 8, drive to our intended spot for stage 9 and setup camp:
https://maps.google.co.uk/maps?q=Col+de+Peyresourde,+Loudervielle,+Franc...

I think both spots will be popular. The first one is near the finish and the second one is the biggest climb of the stage.

Are we being realistic?

Thanks

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posted by mckechan [180 posts]
19th June 2013 - 15:06

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I think your plan sounds realistic mckechan.

Last year we rocked up to the Tourmalet at about 5pm the day before the stage and pitched up our tents on the roadside no worries. Having said that, there is a massive ski station car park there which takes most of the camper vans etc, not sure if Aix or Peyresourd has something similar.

If you have to camp lower down due to space issues, you will have plenty of time to walk/cycle to the top of the mountain before the riders come through - and the queues to drive off the mountain afterwards will be INSANE anyway, so resign yourself to either a long walk or a VERY long, very hot wait in a car going nowhere!

Don't forget your sunscreen, hat water, and most importantly, beer and ice! You will have a great time mate, enjoy!

It's Alpe d'Huez/Annecy/Paris for me this year - can't wait!

posted by newtonk [26 posts]
20th June 2013 - 12:12

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Brilliant! Thanks newtonk and enjoy your trip too... Not long now!

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posted by mckechan [180 posts]
20th June 2013 - 21:35

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A few too many years ago I was lucky enough to be out in the Alps on a hiking holiday when the tour passed near by. We knew it was coming through our village cat 3 climb the next day, but decided to catch the day earlier hc climb not too far away. Our thinking was that the pros go up a cat 3 like its not there. Too much wine and poor map reading skills meant we ended up atop a very similar sounding but very quiet non-route mountain to watch the odd team or media vehicle go passed. Not sure this gives you any useful guidance, but at least you can laugh at our stupidity when you're there!

posted by Steveal [24 posts]
21st June 2013 - 17:45

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"Too much wine..."

I'm sure you had a good time anyway Wink

My biggest worry now is that we set up camp somewhere and then this happens:
http://cyclingweekly.media.ipcdigital.co.uk/11141/00000aa6c/de4d_orh315w... Surprise

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posted by mckechan [180 posts]
21st June 2013 - 23:16

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Pleased to report it was an amazing weekend. Saw Froome powering on to the finish about 1km from the top of Ax 3 Domaines. It was really cool as we didn't know what was going on in the race.

On Sunday we had a perfect spot just down from the highest point of the Col de Peyresourde.

I'll definitely go again and the only thing I will do differently is take my bike so I can have a go a the climbs myself Wink

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posted by mckechan [180 posts]
9th July 2013 - 13:01

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