Reader Q&A: Following the 2014 Tour de France

Published by Lyn on 2 February 2014

Susan wrote to ask for advice about following the 2014 Tour de France. Here's our email conversation.

2014 Tour de France route

Hi Lyn,

If we want to see the Tour and do some of our own biking what makes the most sense? Is traffic impossible to get from stage to stage? Please advise!

Thanks,
Susan.

Lyn writes:

Hi Susan

No, not impossible - plenty of people do it, but you need to be super organised and have your itinerary planned and your accommodation booked.

You'd need to do your research and park sensibly (ie out of the main/busy areas) and (if possible) bike into the actual stage and bike back out again so that you can get away when you need to via fringe roads (where available).
 
On the mountain stages there is often only one road in and one out in either direction, so you'd need to be prepared to do some late/longer driving stretches to the next day's stage. Having said that, if you watched closer to the start of each stage, you'd get away earlier than if you waited near the end for the peloton to go through.
 
It also depends how many stages you want to follow as you'd sometimes have a lot of driving to do. Nimes to Carcassonne, for instance, is a good 220-odd kilometres. The stretches out of the mountains - eg the Midi-Pyrenees to Bergerac stage – may be easier to follow afterwards as there are many rural roads up through Gers and into the Dordogne that will divide the traffic flow. You'd need to really plan any driving around the Haute-Pyrenees and in the Alps and check road closures etc in advance so you could get away when you need to.
 
I hope that makes sense? Please shout if not or if you need more advice.

Cheers
Lyn.

Susan writes back:

If we were to see two stages (not in England) which ones would you suggest? Is it worth it to go with an organised tour? Doesn't seem to me, but...

Lyn writes back:

Hi Susan

Whether or not to go with a tour, for me, is a simple personal choice (and a budgetary one). The good ones are super organised and will ensure you get some good riding in as well as good vantage points for watching, plus they'll take care of your accommodation and transfers, which will take any stress out of it. Mind you, you will need to book soon to secure a place on the better tours.
 
That said, if you stayed at a lodge/chalet/B&B geared up for cyclists, you could benefit from the great cycling, plus the local advice of your hosts, without having to sign up for the formal group rides – eg see, for instance, the chalets near Alpe d'Huez on this list.
 
Zoom onto the map below to see other bike-friendly options across France.
 
 
If it was me and I was seeing the Tour for the first (and possibly only time), I'd like at least one of my stages to be in either the High Pyrenees or the Alps.
 
Stages 16, 17 and 18 look quite interesting from a specrator perspective - the flatter stage out of Languedoc and into the Pyrenees. The overlapping loops of 16 and 17 and then the close proximity of 18 should make all three of these stages – and even the stage 19 – quite accessible with a bit of planning and without having to do as much driving as some of the other more flowing stages through the Alps.
 
You could potentially catch the start in (or just outside of Carcassonne) for a flatter stage and then spend the rest of the day taking your time making your way into the Pyrenees. 
 
 

I hope that helps - please shout with any other questions. I'll post this on the site in case others have suggestions.

Cheers,
Lyn.

Official 2014 Tour de France Programme

The English version of the official programme is published by the people behind ProCycling and CyclingPlus magazines. It profiles every stage of the race, as well as teams and Tour towns. It's well worth getting your hands on a copy. More information here.

tou de france programme

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