While we’re busy getting ready for Pendle Cycle Fest 2011, France’s biggest cycling competition is readying itself for a three week race through some of the country’s most stunning regions.
This year’s Tour De France consists of 10 flat stages and 6 treks through the mountains – including 4 summit finishes. While this may not delight the competitors, it’s sure to put a smile on the faces of spectators. So we’ve chosen a few places we think are the best place to catch the Tour. And with next year’s event rumoured to start in Yorkshire, perhaps we’ll be adding somewhere closer to home in 2012.
• Le Mans may be more famous its annual motor-race but this year it’s also hosting the Tour. As one of the flattest stages, you can expect pace from the competitors and, thanks to the city’s rich history, you can also expect a fantastic location to explore. Of particular interest are the Old Town and the Musee Automobile de la Sarthe.
• The heat from the Montpellier stretch may well be punishing for the riders, but the region’s Mediterranean climate should prove a strong pull for spectators looking to make the most of their summer. As well as the Tour itself, you’ll find a host of historic attractions and cultural events that will allow you to make the most of your time in this stunning city near the sea.
• Even if it weren’t the traditional finishing point for the Tour De France, we’d still recommend the Champs-Élysées in Paris as a place to watch the event. As you might imagine, the street gets pretty packed on race day, so make sure you get there early to get a decent view – or even a terrace table if you’re very lucky!
Looking for info on holiday cottages in France? Have a look at our French region guide.