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Need help from Tour de France veteran spectators.(4 posts)

Need help from Tour de France veteran spectators.WCC
Mar 29, 2002 12:09 PM
We are halfway working on a trip to France this summer. I consider myself a fairly well traveled person, but trying to plan a trip to France and include a few MTN stages is proving to be a challenge. Don't know where to start. So I'll keep my question simple.

I am wanting to see part of stage 16 (Galbier,Telegraphe,Madeleine) and or stage 17 (Roseland, Colombiere). Is this easily do-able? If so, what town/village would be the best home base for both. As best I can tell Aime seems close to key parts of each stage. Is this a good place to stay? I am not planning on renting a vehicle, or bringing a bike (my non-riding wife will be with me). After these two stages I want to go to Paris and possibly view the finish.

My main concern is finding the best town to set up base camp for a few days. I understand that finding a room at this point may be a problem, but pretend it isn't where should I go? I know there are several ski resorts in this area, but would like more of a real town/village that the wife could enjoy.

Thanks for any help!
re: Need help from Tour de France veteran spectators.King
Mar 29, 2002 8:18 PM
I can't exactly help you on the exact locations as I am not that familiar with the tour route this year. I did however see 10 stages and all alpine stages last year with a group out of england called Graham Baxter tours. I brought my bike and rode to and on most of the tour route. Generally, I think if you don't have transportation it's going to be difficult. The actual route is closed off approximately 4 hours prior to the start of the race for vehicle traffic and about 1-11/2 hours to all traffic including bikes. We had a support a support bus which transported the non-cyclist to which ever staging area we were at for the day. The bus generally left quite early, approx. 7:30-800 a.m. to be able to get a spot. Keep in mind that the race generally came through around 2-4 p.m., so there was a lot of waiting around. Given the narrow, one laned roads in the mountains, roads got congested very quickly. Although I bike to most areas, I did take the bus out and it took forever. Compound this be about 50 -100 bus plus innumerable cars and it was quite a pile up, even if you knew your way around France.

I think the ideal way would be to have a base hotel 20-30- kms away from you intended destination and then bike to your spot. This way you won't be affected by the crush of crowds to and fro. If your wife doesn't want to bike, I would think about renting a car for a day or two in a bigger city, getting up early and driving. By being able to stay further away you'd probably save $ on the room to be able to put in a car. Last year we stayed at some larger cities like Nancy and Grenoble whci really seemed unaffected by the Tour. By way of example, We bikes about 34kms from Grenoble to the base of Alpe'd Huez without incident. Arriving at about 10:30a.m. the base city was getting crowded even with an expected arrival of the race at about 3:30-4:00pm. Biking down after the race took about an hour and we beat the caravan bus by about 2 -3hrs due to traffic. All the way down traffic was backed up. i coudn't imagine trying to get into that area after noon as the crowds were large but more impotantly the roads and surrounding areas were so small. I don't know how you could have gotten into that area with public transport.
My best advice for you is to really look into the lay of the land where your staying. Is it a larger town and are there lots of roads and alternative roads out of town and along the route in question. If its a bottleneck like Alpe D' Huez with only one road which includes the stage route, then you will need to be there 4 hours before the race so the road doesn't close and well before that to fight all the other jackasses trying to get where your going. Sorry for the long diatribe: stay very close or splurge for a 2 day rental car.
re: Need help from Tour de France veteran spectators.MeMyselfandI
Mar 29, 2002 8:59 PM
You'll want to be as close to the place you watch as you can get. The roads will close roughly one hour prior to the arrival of the caravan - which is two hours ahead of the leaders. The closer you are the less stress. I went last year - it was difficult but we managed to make a reservation as late as May. It takes real research to find some of these places, the towns are small and do not rely on the internet for reservations like we do here in the states.
re: Need help from Tour de France veteran spectators.digitaldave
Mar 31, 2002 9:43 AM
We are going to be in Paris during the tour and want to attend the Team Time Trial from Epernay to Chateau Thierry. We plan to go to Epernay by train but we have no idea what to expect there. Does anyone know what kind of events there are prior to departure, or where we can find a daily schedule? I'm assuming there are many things to do on the morning of the race if just to walk around and see the teams and sponsors. Thanks in advance,
Dave Christiano
Springfield, Missouri