We have already discussed the temptation to try and see it all here. So now it is time to map your way around France. Where you go and which stages you decide to follow will, of course, be an individual choice; there is no right or wrong way to follow a grand tour. But here are a couple of tips to make mapping and driving your route a little easier:
- You want to aim to get close to your chosen viewing spot either the day before or at least by 10am the day of the stage. Keep this in mind when you’re deciding which campsites to book.
- The Tour de France website releases stage data before the race, here they outline every road taken, the elevation, distance and the time the riders are expected to come through. This is extremely helpful in planning where to view the race.
- When watching a mountain stage, if you want to be close to the summit and you’re in a motorhome, you’ll (realistically) need to get there before midday the day before the stage.
- We recommend you spending on average two nights in one location. By doing this you can often view a stage finish and then a stage start without rushing too much to get back on the road. There are plenty of options to make up time by cutting corners and meeting up with the tour again at a later stage. The route will make many of these decisions for you. Sometimes, they’re clustered together in a region (such as Britanny or in the Alpes of Pyrenees). Other times, you simply have to cover too many miles to get to some stages.
- Buy a GPS. They’re not that expensive and they will be worth every penny.
- Buy a paper map of France; it’s good to have a fallback when the GPS fails you. We often used ours to work out which back roads to park our motorhome on to view stages.
- It’s also a good idea to print out Google Map directions that show you how to get to from one campsite to the next. Yes this does sound a bit over-the-top, but GPS’s are known to fail (ours did, several times), so having a hard copy back up can save you a lot of anguish.
So that’s our short list of suggestions. If you’ve got any more you think we should add to this list, let us know in the comments section below.