Drive The Tour De France Route This July
Take in a view of France off the beaten track this summer by following your own personal Tour de France route around the country by car.
The 103rd Tour de France bike race is set to begin on the 2nd July from Mont St-Michel in Normandy. The event lasts for 22 days and takes in more than 3,500 km of breath-taking French scenery. Those following the tour will be able to immerse themselves in a wide variety of local tradition and culture as they move along with each of the 21 stages of the race. However, there is no need to be a cycling fanatic to be able to appreciate the beautiful French landscape and lifestyle this summer. Why not hire a car or drive over from the UK and take part in your own personal Tour de France?
Your own personal Tour de France will require a little bit of planning along with some European travel insurance, but is thoroughly recommended for those that want to experience France off the beaten track this summer.
Begin your tour from Cherbourg which you can reach by ferry crossing. This bustling Normandy port has been an important naval base since the 19th century. Gastronomes will love the fish delicacies that are on offer in this port.
Follow the route down through Brittany into the Loire Valley. The third stage of the Tour takes in a 222km stretch from Granville to Angers on the River Maine. The city is pleasantly walkable and includes beautiful cathedrals and chateaus. Wine-tastings of local Anjou and Saumur wines are a must.
Limousin And The Dordogne
The first mountain stage of the Tour takes place in and around Limoges, which is a pretty and quintessentially rural area of France. The city itself has a reasonable amount of nightlife as well as galleries that are dedicated to the manufacture of porcelain and enamel in the area.
From the Dordogne region, which is known for its dark forests and attractive medieval towns, the Tour heads on across the border into Andorra which is famed for skiing and its tobacco production. The cuisine in Andorra is a true delight as it is an interesting mix of cookery traditions from neighbouring Spain and France. Andorran-style cannelloni, fresh rabbit meat and a chicory salad are all typical dishes.
Popping back over into France and the race route hugs the southern border of the country as it works up to Montpellier which is a pleasant university town. Visitors can wander the wide boulevards before almost certainly ending up in the enormous pedestrianised square at the heart of the city – Place de la Comedie.
The Tour de France then heads out of the country for a second time into neighbouring Switzerland for a series of mountain stages in and around Bern. The old town of Bern is a UNESCO World Heritage site and also boasts the longest covered shopping promenades in Europe.
Back into France again and the gargantuan mountain of Mont Blanc in the Alps is one of the final mountain stages of the Tour. A beautiful Alpine drive to take in is the Col de la Bonnette, which is the highest road in Europe at around 2700m. The view includes luscious greenery at the base of the pass which is contrasted against an almost volcanic scene at the top.
From these penultimate stages of the Tour de France, you must then make your way back to Paris either by car or by flying to Charles-de-Gaulle. A visit to this captivating capital is filled with romance, sophistication and all the cultural attractions you can possibly imagine in one city.
So, enjoy all the best sights from the Tour de France from the comfort of your car, and a few pit stops along the way!