Reader Q&A: Riding the Tour de France before the peloton

Published by Lyn on 22 March 2015

Andy emailed from San Diego, where he is director of the San Diego Bike Coalition, to ask about watching the 2015 Tour de France in Brittany.

Riding the Tour de France bfore the peloton

Riding the Tour de France route before the peloton. Photo: Adam Bowie

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Hello Lyn,

I’ve enjoyed reading your web site and am excited to be coming to France for the first time and watching the Tour de France in person. I am traveling with friends and family and we will be staying in a villa in Rennes from July 9-16. I have some questions and am hopeful you can help.

I have heard that its possible to ride a stage of the Tour prior to the teams coming through. Is that true? I have thought to ride stages 8 and 9 with a couple of my friends.

We will also be needing to rent bikes during our visit to Brittany, do you have a recommendation?

Any other helpful tips for riding and visiting Rennes. My wife and I also own a wine bar and are planning to visit the wine regions in the area.

I am the director of our bicycle advocacy organisation here in San Diego, California and work to promote and improve bicycling here. I appreciate any information you can provide prior to our trip.

Thank you very much,

I wrote back:

Hi Andy

Great to hear from the States!

Yes, you can ride any or all of the stages before the peloton – you just need to check each stage/route out closer to the time to find out what time the roads close. Generally they close at least an hour (sometimes much more) before the caravan comes through. The local tourist boards usually have this information in the weeks leading up to the Tour de France. I sometimes post this info on the blog as it comes to hand but it's not always possible for me to find time to do every stage (though see here for info on the Stage 8 route). I was in the Pyrenees last year for the Tour and it was wonderful to see people of all ages and abilities passing by before the main event.

I know you're sorted for accommodaiton, but here's my 2015 Tour de France accommodation list for anyone reading this on the blog.

Until recently Bikever operated in Brittany but they have now closed their northern branch. 

Try Fabien at ABicyclette (, though I'm almost sure he only has hybrids/touring bikes and not road bikes. 

I think you'll find the story the same with John at Brittany Borders Bicycling, but, again, worth an email:

Either/both may know a small local shop with road bike hire, but otherwise I can recommend both for hybrid/touring hire.

I already have this on the site about the Rennes stage 8. For an overview of Rennes, see here.

I don't know much about the vineyards in that area, to be honest. For some local advice, you could get in touch with Wendy Mewes via Twitter or her website – she is a local Brittany expert and has written a number of guidebooks to the region.

For cycling in Brittany in general, go here.

This book is highly recommended for exploring the canals and greenway routes:

I hope that helps.

If it's OK I'll post this question on the blog as a reader Q&A in case it helps others.

Say a big hi to everyone at your advocacy group in San Diego. If you and your friends would like to follow me on Twitter (@freewheelfrance), I'll follow you back - it's always good to hear what cyclists around the world are up to. I'm also on Facebook.

It would be great to hear how your trip goes.


Andy wrote back:

Wow, thank you! We will definitely keep following your blog. And yes, feel free to post. Much appreciated!


Andy wrote again:

You were correct, Lyn. Now I am thinking that it may be easier to rent in Paris where we will spend a few days before visiting Britany. What do you think?


I wrote back:

Hi Andy

Do you mean rent the bikes in Paris and then take them with you to Brittany, or just hire in Paris to ride there?

Either way, check out these guys – say I sent you.

See also here an article on bike culture in Paris, which might be of interest to you and your bike advocacy friends.


Andy wrote back:

Nice article, thanks! Very similar situation here as we continue to grow our bike culture.

I spend a lot of time giving free advice on cycling in France – if the site has helped you, please share it on Facebook and Twitter.

On the blog


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