Some of the most common questions I get asked in the lead up to the Tour de France are about road closures. Here's what you need to know.
Road closure times during the Tour de France vary from region to region and even town to town. Closure times depend on many things: how popular that section of the route will be; how difficult access is; whether there are any access other roads; whether it's a mountain stage, a town centre stage or a rural road.
Who are the roads closed to?
When people talk about the 'road closing', they mean 'closed to motorised traffic': that's all cars, campervans and motor cycles with the exception of emergency vehicles, local organising staff, and Tour de France vehicles.
As always, the best way to get around is by bike. Even after the roads officially close, they are still 'open' to pedestrians and cyclists. Again, though, there is no rule of thumb here. In some areas you can ride the route anything up to an hour before the caravan comes through (sometimes even later), while on other sections the road will be barricaded off completely.
What time do the roads close?
The best advice I can give anyone is this: check locally about road closure times. Ask B&Bs and hotels (see here for our TDF accommodation page), and ask tourist offices as they will have the best and latest information. On the more common Tour de France cols of the Pyrenees and Alps, they deal with road closures on an almost annual basis so they really are the experts at navigating closed roads and finding the best vantage points. Also check local government websites – search for 'Mairie' (town hall/mayor) – and tourist office sites as they often have dedicated Tour de France pages, which are all managed locally.
Note that specific information on road closures may be confirmed as late as the week before or even a day or two before the event.
See the official Tour de France race guide for a handy overview of what time the caravan will pass through. This can also help you plan your arrival times.
I am adding below specific links as they come to hand.
On busier sections of the routes, expect traffic jams in and out (and this also affects feeder roads used for parking and access). The later you arrive, the further you will have to walk/cycle to the route itself from local access roads.
Road closure times are subject to change - always err on the side of caution and arrive early if you are driving. Major cols and sections of the route where there is only one way in and one way out will be closed for longer (eg Ventoux, Tourmalet and most major Alpine cols will USUALLY close AT LEAST the afternoon before, sometimes up to a day or two earlier).
Try to avoid driving in host cities on the day of the Tour. City centre traffic is usually always affected – park outside and walk/cycle, or take public transport, into the city centre (or research public parking spaces and access in advance).
What time do the roads open again?
Again, this differs. The Tour de France is a massive event and all local authorities manage it differently. You can generally walk or cycle on the route again after the entire Tour entourage has been through. On less crowded sections, cars will also start using the route again fairly quickly afterwards. However it can take much longer before traffic flows freely on more crowded stages. As with the closures, things are geared to ensure spectator safety, and traffic movement largely depends on access roads and how big/popular that stage is.
If you need to get away quickly after the peloton goes through, DO NOT PARK ON THE ROUTE ITSELF! Find somewhere to watch that can be accessed from other local roads. Park up and walk/bike to the route.
What time do stages start/end?
These are all listed on the official Tour de France website, as well as in the official Race Guide. We find this invaluable and generally do not go to watch a stage without it.
Who do I ask on the day?
The route is policed by local police and volunteer marshals. Follow their instructions or ask if you're not sure.
Mountain routes are generally more problematic to get to than flat stages. For flat stages and town stages, it is usually much easier to find somewhere to watch that has a local access road feeding onto the route. If you use these, then you can avoid having to drive onto the route itself and the closures won't affect you. Some feeder roads WILL be affected by organisational traffic etc but local advice and signs informing you about the deviation are usually available.
As stated above, road closures are managed locally, which means it can be a nightmare to find out individual area details – it really does mean researching town-by-town. The info below is mostly in French but decipherable using an online translator. Unfortunately I just don't have the time or resources to translate everything or to search for info on every single town that the Tour de France goes through.
If the info you need is not below, it's either not yet published or I haven't had time to serach for it. You can do this yourself by Googling such terms as 'circulation' + 'Tour de France' + 'the town or stage you are interested in'. You can also try 'parking' + 'Tour de France' + 'the town or stage you are interested in' and 'stationnement' + 'Tour de France' + 'the town or stage you are interested in'.
If you find anything out that's not on the list, I'd be grateful if you emailed me at email@example.com with the details or posted them in the comments below.
* If you live locally and hear about road closures, please email details to firstname.lastname@example.org *
All info below is given in good faith. Most of the links are in French (sorry, but I won't have time to translate everything - Google will be your friend!)
Stage 1: Saturday, July 6, Brussels – Brussels, 192km
Information will be added here once finalised.
Stage 2: Sunday, July 7, Brussels Palais Royal – Brussels Atomium, 27km
Information will be added here once finalised.
Stage 3: Monday, July 8, Binche – Epernay, 214km
Stage 4: Tuesday, July 9, Reims – Nancy, 215km
Stage 5: Wednesday, July 10, Saint-Die-Des-Vosges – Colmar, 169km
Stage 6: Thursday, July 11, Mulhouse – La Plance Des Belles Filles, 157km
Stage 7: Friday, July 12, Belfort – Chalon-sur-Saône, 230km
Stage 8: Saturday, July 13, Mâcon – Saint Étienne, 199km
Stage 9: Sunday, July 14, Saint Étienne – Brioude, 170km
Stage 10: Monday, July 15, Saint Flour – Albi, 218km
Stage 11: Wednesday, July 17, Albi – Toulouse, 167km
Stage 12: Thursday, July 18, Toulouse – Bagnères de Bigorre, 202km
Stage 13: Friday, July 19, Pau – Pau, 27km
Stage 14: Saturday, July 20, Tarbes – Tourmalet Barèges, 117km
Stage 15: Sunday, July 21, Limoux – Foix Prats D’Albis, 185km
Stage 16: Tuesday, July 23, Nîmes – Nîmes, 177km
Official local informaton can be found here. The site has been produced by the town of Nimes, the Pont du Gard and the Gard region. Also contains lots of informationoin activities before, during and after the race.
Stage 17: Wednesday, July 24, Pont du Gard – Gap, 206km
Official local informaton can be found here, produced by the town of Nimes, Pont du Gard and the Gard region. Also contains lots of information on activities before, during and after the race.
Stage 18: Thursday, July 25, Embrun – Valloire, 207km
Information to come when we have it.
Stage 19: Friday, July 26, Saint Jean de Maurienne – Tignes, 123km
Information should be posted on this page as soon as available.
Stage 20: Saturday, July 27, Albertville – Val Thorens, 131km
Good local information can be found here. Look under "Circulation" and take note of the warning that roads may close two to three days before.
Stage 21: Sunday, July 28, Rambouillet – Paris, 127km
Avoid driving in Paris – there is no need to. Use public transport or one of the public bike share bikes to get around. Note Metro stops and underpasses near the route are sometimes closed to avoid overcroding or for security reasons. It's usually best to plan to arrive a few stops away from the route and to walk.
Paris is big and the circuit spread out. There are often casual observers who are tourists in the city on the day and not there specifically for te Tour – this means more crowd movement and fewer people sitting in the same spot all day. That means that with a little patience it can be possible to wiggle your way close to the front with relative ease. Take water and other supplies with you and pinpoint cafes or other toilet spots nearby. It's good to watch in pairs or groups so somene can guard your spot while you duck off to the toilet, etc. Portable step ladders or chairs are also andy, but be considerate with neighbours and not block their view.