Le Tour – France’s greatest sporting event
Va Va Froome!
The Tour de France is a hotly anticipated event on France’s sporting calendar. Visitors from all over the world descend on the country to cheer on their riders, but aside from the cycling the Tour boasts some amazing scenery and sights along the way.
This year is no different, with the Tour starting in Normandy, staying there for a couple of days before heading down through the centre to the south where activity is centred around the mountains. The Tour also makes brief stops in Spain, the Principality of Andorra and even Switzerland.
The Tour lasts for 21 days with the riders cycling a total of 3,519 km (a little bit more than a Belle France cycling holiday!) with 2 individual time trails, 9 flat stages, 1 hilly and 9 mountain stages, of which 4 of those will finish on the summit.
Exciting watching if you are a cycling fan, but even if you aren’t, do switch onto the coverage on ITV4, it really does give you a fantastic view of some of the wonderful sights France has to offer.
Below we’ve picked some sights along some of the routes, and matched it up with our own holidays so you can get a sneak preview by watching it as the cyclists wend their way through before you visit!
One of the finest examples of a medieval walled city, Carcassone is fully enclosed within its ramparts. The site was heavily restored in the 19th century, and it has been given UNESCO world heritage status. The Romans first fortified the hilltop around 100BC and it’s been a site of importance ever since. Visitors to the town will be able to see two outer walls and 53 towers. It even has its own drawbridge. Our Canal du Midi Prestige Tour starts from Carcassone with some time allocated to explore this wonderful town.
Stage 4 starts here before it winds its way through 237.5km ending up in Limoges – the longest stage of the Tour. Saumur has a wonderful limestone château which is a must see. It’s also home to France’s national equestrian school and the Cadre Noir, elite display team which defy belief when you see their routines. Then you must tour some of the sparkling wine cellars on the outskirts of the town. There are some lovely eating options too, so you’ll be well fed and watered. Our Along the Leisurely Loire Tour ends in Saumur.
Stage 6 ends here after a gruelling 190km from Arpajon-sur-Cère. Montauban was originally founded in 1144 by the Count of Toulouse on the banks of the Tarn River. Highlights include the Place Nationale, where you will find buildings built with pretty pink stone which is unique to this region, and arcades which surround each side of the square. There’s also a wonderful old bridge which was opened in the 14th century. Our Gascony Canal Cruise begins at Montauban before heading up to Montech through a series of locks on the canal.
You might be inspired to head off on your own Tour de France, and if so, then please get in touch, as we’ve got some wonderful itineraries to suit all abilities. Don’t worry, we won’t be following the same route, we will probably advise to stop off at a couple of vineyards along the way! We can’t see Chris Froome doing that somehow!
3 Related Holidays
Classic Canal du Midi
Ancient cities and idyllic waterways
This cycling tour takes you along a fascinating journey across South West France from Toulouse to the Mediterranean sea. A cyclists dream along the tree lined towpaths of the Canal du Midi listed a UNESCO World...
Along the Leisurely Loire
Historic Blois to charming Saumur
A moderate cycle following the majestic River Loire from Blois to Saumur. Visit several of the grand châteaux via the bustling city of Tours with its enchanting old quarter. The hotels offer genuine French charm and wonderful regional fare.
Gascony Canal Cruise
Tranquillity in the depths of Aquitaine
Your 8-berth floating hotel, the Rosa, played host to top chef Rick Stein in his TV Series, The French Odyssey and will take you from Toulouse to Agen through some of Gascony’s most beautiful countryside. Accompany the barge`s chef to...