Where to stay during the mountain stages of TDF



Hi

Just wanted to know if anyone watched the mountain stages of the Tour
de France live. I've always wanted to watch a mountain stage and
wanted to know:

1. Which is the best stage to watch?
2. Where do I plant myself during the stage (middle, end, etc.)
3. Where do you stay? Do you stay somewhere close the night before and
then drive up early in the morning? Where do you park, etc....

I know these sound like dumb questions but I'm really curious as I am
planning a road trip in France next year.

Many thanks for the info in advance.

-Henry
 
S

Simon Brooke

Guest
in message <[email protected]>,
[email protected] (' [email protected]') wrote:

> Just wanted to know if anyone watched the mountain stages of the Tour
> de France live. I've always wanted to watch a mountain stage and
> wanted to know:
>
> 1. Which is the best stage to watch?


It depends on the route that year. It's different every year, you know.

> 2. Where do I plant myself during the stage (middle, end, etc.)


The popular places are close to the top of the big climbs. Obviously,
because they're popular, it's harder to get parked and get up there - if
you're fit enough it may be best to park at the bottom and cycle up.
Alternately you might want to watch lower down or on a smaller climb,
because that way it's easier to get a space.

> 3. Where do you stay? Do you stay somewhere close the night before and
> then drive up early in the morning? Where do you park, etc....


The classic answer is a motor caravan (what you colonials call
a 'motorhome'). Arrive the night before, park up, watch the tour go by,
then leapfrog to the next stage. You can watch every second mountain stage
this way, and a lot of people do. You'd have to be extremely lucky to be
able to watch every mountain stage.

If you watch the mountain stages you'll see large numbers of motor caravans
parked along the climbs - it's how serious tour fans do it.

--
[email protected] (Simon Brooke) http://www.jasmine.org.uk/~simon/
;; Our modern industrial economy takes a mountain covered with trees,
;; lakes, running streams and transforms it into a mountain of junk,
;; garbage, slime pits, and debris. -- Edward Abbey
 
M

Mike Jacoubowsky

Guest
> Just wanted to know if anyone watched the mountain stages of the Tour
> de France live. I've always wanted to watch a mountain stage and
> wanted to know:
>
> 1. Which is the best stage to watch?
> 2. Where do I plant myself during the stage (middle, end, etc.)
> 3. Where do you stay? Do you stay somewhere close the night before and
> then drive up early in the morning? Where do you park, etc....


You might check out this page on our website, which describes what makes
watching a TdF stage on a mountain, in-person, such a fun & memorable
experience-

http://www.chainreaction.com/tdfwatching.htm

It doesn't go into the mechanics of your questions all that much, which
leads me to believe I should probably update it a bit and include such info.
I'll be going again this coming Friday, taking my 14-year-old son along.
We'll be doing the train/rental car/biking gig, which should prove
interesting. But to answer a few of your questions-

#1: Best stages to watch are those that will make a difference. That usually
means multiple nasty climbs. It's not always the case that the best climb to
watch is the final one; the last climb can be intensely crowded. In 2003 I
watched the infamous Luz Ardiden stage (the once Lance caught the bag on his
handlebar and crashed) from the top of the Tourmalet. An incredibly-dramatic
setting.

#2: If you can bring a bike and ride up the mountain, look for the place
where you think the riders are going to suffer the most. Your legs will tell
you where that is! And, if possible, plant yourself on a corner that the
riders will be cutting close on the way up the mountain.

#3: If you've got a bike, getting to the stage is no problem, particularly
in the Pyrenees (where there are a ton of side roads that few travel).
You'll be able to park your car maybe 20 miles from where you want to be,
and get in & out without trouble. In the Pryrenees. In the Alps, it can be a
different story, because there are far fewer roads (but even so a good map
and a willingness to take the road less traveled can do you quite well).

As for where to stay, try and find one place you can stay in for several
days, if possible. Moving around is a hassle. Accor Hotels is your friend!
http://www.accorhotels.com/accorhotels/reservez/fr_top.jsp?ecran=rech_par_carte
and click on the country of France, and then the region you'll be visiting.
You won't get the real French experience at such places, but they're
efficient, clean, & very reasonable. If you want to go really cheap, the
Formule 1 option will generally run about $45/night. Really. It's a
robo-hotel though (you check in with your credit card; there may not be
anyone obviously on duty) and you'll have a shared bathroom down the hall.
For not much more money (maybe another $10) they have the Etap hotels,
similar to Forumule 1 but with your own bathroom & shower. That's what we're
doing. Another $10-30/night gets you into a more-traditional Ibis, and if
you want something borderline fancy, they have their Mercure chain, which
can run $100-$250/night depending upon location.

Get the relevant Michelin maps; for a good start, you want the France
Sud/South map for the Pyrenees, Ventoux, Bordeaux etc., and France
Nord/North for the Alps, Paris and all that. More detailed info can be found
on Google Earth and Mappy.fr (Mappy.fr is exceptional at locating local
places to eat, gas stations, points of interest etc).

Hope this helps-

--Mike--
Chain Reaction Bicycles
www.ChainReaction.com
 
M

MisterMax

Guest
>> Just wanted to know if anyone watched the mountain stages of the Tour
>> de France live. I've always wanted to watch a mountain stage and
>> wanted to know:
>>
>> 1. Which is the best stage to watch?
>> 2. Where do I plant myself during the stage (middle, end, etc.)
>> 3. Where do you stay? Do you stay somewhere close the night before and
>> then drive up early in the morning? Where do you park, etc....

>
> You might check out this page on our website, which describes what makes
> watching a TdF stage on a mountain, in-person, such a fun & memorable
> experience-
>
> http://www.chainreaction.com/tdfwatching.htm
>

Mike's posts are excellent.

Here's a few words from mine:
"On July 13 [2000], we climbed Mt Ventoux for stage 12 of the Tour de
France.

Up by alarm at 7:30. [We stayed in a B&B about 10 or 20 miles from
Sault] In Sault, the town below Mt Ventoux, buy 2 rolls and a croissant
for 10FF. We'll picnic on them with the sausage (20 FF each, 3 for FF50
with a free jar of boar pate) and goat cheese we bought yesterday. [We
should have taken more food; it was a long day.] Drive 17 km toward Mt
Ventoux before the traffic stops. Park at a wide spot, leaving room for
one car or a truck (like the police van with 2 horses in a trailer that
has been following us) to get by."

There's more on the race and the rest of the day at
http://buten.net/max/France/TdeF/TdeF.htm

The next morning we drove to Avignon, start of the next stage, arriving
too late to get closer than an overview of the start. On the way to
Avignon we saw people sitting on their beach chairs by the highway or
the back road in the flat countryside to wait for the tour to pass.

If you conclude from this that you have to get there early, you're right!

- Max
 
D

DirtRoadie

Guest
On Jul 14, 2:16 pm, Simon Brooke <[email protected]> wrote:
> in message <[email protected]>,
>
> > 2. Where do I plant myself during the stage (middle, end, etc.)

>
> The popular places are close to the top of the big climbs. Obviously,
> because they're popular, it's harder to get parked and get up there - if
> you're fit enough it may be best to park at the bottom and cycle up.
> Alternately you might want to watch lower down or on a smaller climb,
> because that way it's easier to get a space.
>
> > 3. Where do you stay? Do you stay somewhere close the night before and
> > then drive up early in the morning? Where do you park, etc....

>
> The classic answer is a motor caravan (what you colonials call
> a 'motorhome'). Arrive the night before, park up, watch the tour go by,
> then leapfrog to the next stage. You can watch every second mountain stage
> this way, and a lot of people do. You'd have to be extremely lucky to be
> able to watch every mountain stage.
>
> If you watch the mountain stages you'll see large numbers of motor caravans
> parked along the climbs - it's how serious tour fans do it.


I concur with everthing Simon said, having once done the "RV" thing
for the TdF. It does provide a great degree of flexibility, although
you can count on "formal" campgrounds being full in any town which
hosts the Tour.
I particularly agree with the comment about cycling to an appropriate
vantage point. I rode up Alpe D'Huez prior to the day's finish there.
The traffic on the way down was bumper-to-bumper for the entire length
of the descent. Had I not been on a bicycle it would have taken
hours.

DR