A new series has just begun on Channel 5 – Tour de Celeb.
For anyone who hasn’t seen it, the premise is that eight celebrities train for two months to prepare for the Etape du Tour. A mixture of TV stars and sports stars, the eight are put through their paces by ex-cycling pro Rob Hayles, Paralympic champion Dame Sarah Storey and sports scientist Asker Jeukendrup.
The Etape du Tour is a competition which allows cyclists to cycle a stage of the Tour de France – one of the mountain stages – to give cyclists the chance to be Tour riders for the day. It’s an incredible sporting experience for cycling enthusiasts, but as viewers of the Tour de France know it’s also a great way of seeing the beauty of the French countryside and mountain scenery.
So why are we writing about this new celebrity show? Two reasons. One to highlight how popular cycling is getting, not just in France, but in the UK too, and also as a sport, to encourage more people to get on a bike and get out in the countryside. The second is to see just how beautiful France is (where they’ll end up racing), and how cycling can help you to get to know a country.
Now of course, we’re not suggesting that everyone can cycle one of the Tour stages, but if you’re thinking about taking a cycling holiday, then it’s well worth a visit, if only to look at the scenery! France is a great country that is geared up (pardon the pun!) for cyclists, with plenty of waymarked routes throughout the country, and dedicated cycle routes which have facilities along the way, including hire shops, repair shops and plenty of accommodation and food and drink outlets that cater for cyclists.
The route that the celebrities are training for in the series was this year’s Etape du Tour competition, from Megève to Morzine. It’s 122km of unforgiving mountains in the Alps.
Megève is a pretty village in the Alps, which has retained many of its features from years ago, authentically French and with so many riders visiting both for the main Tour de France as well as the Etape, it’s now become synonymous with cycling.
Morzine is in a unique position, from the village, you can see Mont Blanc and Lake Geneva, it’s just a short distance from the Swiss border.
In the winter, it’s a haven for skiers, as you can imagine, but in the summer this year it attracted thousands of cyclists and cyclist enthusiasts. Well, in fact every year it attracts cyclists, with its 16 mapped routes and hotels which cater for cyclists (and hikers too).
Next year, the route for the Etape travels from Briançon to Izoard. This route is a whopping 178km, visiting the massive Col de Vars along the way. Not one for the faint hearted! 15,000 riders are expected to take part and more than 30,000 visitors expected to cheer on the riders. Best of all, it’s free to visit during the competition! So if you are looking for a holiday with a difference, then why not head to the Alps in the summer?
One of our new holidays for 2017 is in the Rhône-Alpes region and of course it’s a cycling holiday! Don’t worry, we’re not planning a stage of the Tour de France, this route requires a little less exertion!
Following the Via Rhona cycle route through the valley, you can see the beauty of the Alps, you just don’t have to cycle up them!
Instead, you’ll be following the river and stopping off at various points along the way. Sights include a chocolate museum, so it’s a good job there’s lots of cycling to work off the calories! Then of course, you can’t not visit the Rhone valley without wine tastings at several vineyards, and visiting some stunning archeological sights such as a Roman Theatre and Temple. Starting at Vienne, the tour takes four days to cycle before ending up in Montélimar.
Via Rhona by Bike
Cycle the Rhone Valley and bear witness to the Rhone’s wild side amongst a variety of landscapesFrom Vienne, once an ancient capital of Roman Gaul, to the nature reserve of L’île au Beurre, via steeply terraced vineyards including the prestigious Côte-Rôtie. This beautiful stage of the 'Via Rhona' cycle route wil...
So if you are watching Tour de Celeb, take the time to gain your bearings and look at the wonderful scenery. Then if the cycling bug grabs hold, then get in touch, and we’ll see what we can do!
Main article images:
Tour de Celeb images © Channel 5
Etape du Tour logo © ASO