International Destinations

Tips to Watch the Tour de France in Person

The Tour de France is an annual men’s multiple-stage bicycle race that was first organized in 1903. The race primarily takes place in France, but it occasionally passes through nearby countries.

Witnessing the Tour de France was an item on my cousin’s bucket list, and we were able to do just that on July 11th. The 2014 Tour de France honored the centennial anniversary of World War I, and it started in Leeds, UK and ended in Paris. We selected the town of Flirey, located about 30-45 minutes from Metz where my cousin lived, to catch the race as he went from Épernay to Nancy.

Related: The Green City {Metz, France}

Is witnessing the Tour de France on your bucket list too? Here are a few tips to make the most of watching the tour in person.

Have a Plan and Be Early Have a Plan and Be Early
Once you decide which stage you want to watch, scope out the route and decide on the town you want to watch the race come through. All of this information can be found on the Tour de France website to help.
You definitely want to show up a few hours before the race is scheduled to come through so you can claim your spot, as the roads close before the riders arrive. Additionally, since you are arriving early, be sure to pack snacks and games to keep you entertained as you hang out and wait for the cyclists.
We opted to park along the side of the road into Flirey so we could see the race in action as opposed to the finish line.
Look Out for the Caravan and Helicopters Look Out for the Caravan and Helicopters
The caravan usually comes through 30-45 minutes before the riders. The caravan is a parade of the Tour de France sponsors who will throw treats and toys from their floats and cars, so be on the lookout for flying objects, or you will get hit in the face (trust me!). The goodies include candies, keychains, and other souvenir trinkets from the race. Some are extremely sought after (like the cycle caps) so make sure you keep your eyes open for those.
When you start to see helicopters, keep on an eye on them. They’ll give you a great idea of where the majority of the riders are located as they wind down the road towards you.

Don't Get in the Way Don't Get in the Way
There usually aren’t any barriers to keep you from the riders on the mountain passes or the small roads, but it is really important to stay out of the way of the racers. Your selfie with professional cyclers hurling towards you is not worth the road burn. And make sure you keep your toes off the road as the riders will take up every inch of asphalt. Your job is to watch the race and cheer them on – not for 15 minutes of fame.

If you ever in France during the Tour, I highly recommend trying to witness this annual event in person – it is pretty spectacular.


Captured from Video

Captured from Video