Seeing the Tour de France

Travel Forums Europe Seeing the Tour de France

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1. Posted by weltyed (Budding Member 5 posts) 14y Star this if you like it!

i will be in paris from july 3rd through the 8th. does anyone know of a tour company that runs daytrips to see the tour de france?

2. Posted by Gelli (Travel Guru 2457 posts) 14y Star this if you like it!

Hi Ed,

I’m afraid I can’t help with companies that offer tour’s to the Tour De France, and apart from corporate style packages and l’etape du tour (where normal people get the chance to ride that years hardest mountain stage), I’m not sure they even exist. I’m curious why your looking for a company, when you can do it easily by yourself?

It’s totally free to watch and easy enough to visit yourself – the route is public knowledge, and most of the start/finish towns are easily accessible by public transport, and with a bit of planning, it’s often possible to see the same stage several times during the day.

The tour starts on the third, and the following stages take place during the time frame you mention:
Prologue - July 3: Prologue Liege ITT, 6 km
Stage 1 - July 4: Liège-Charleroi, 195 km
Stage 2 - July 5: Charleroi-Namur, 195 km
Stage 3 - July 6: Waterloo - Wasquehal, 195 km
Stage 4 - July 7: Cambrai - Arras TTT, 65 km
Stage 5 - July 8: Amiens - Chartres, 195 km

All of the stages are approximately flat, and whilst some of the stages go through the hilly Ardenes (a good viewing point and a famous cycling area), if you go to a mid point of a stage, it will be over quite quickly. Your best bet is probably to go to one of the stage finishes, where there will be huge crowds and big screens etc, so that you get a longer experience.

If possible, Liege for the Prologue would be a good choice, as all of the riders will pass individually, so you will have 3hours of riders passing and lots of associated festivities, and Liege is also easy to get to from Paris by train. The TTT on the 7th would be another easy possibility, but any of the other stage finishes would be a good choice, and a great spectacle – I try and get to at least 1 or 2 a year, and they are always great fun. If you’ve got any questions or want any further ideas etc, feel free to ask.

Btw, as you are around Paris at the time, be aware that July 4th is the Euro 04 football final, and if France happen to reach it, I would strongly suggest being in Paris that day – the atmosphere is likely to be great, and especially if they happen to win, Paris (Champs Elysee would probably be the place to go) will turn into the worlds biggest party/celebration zone, and an experience you’d be crazy to miss, even if you hate football!


3. Posted by weltyed (Budding Member 5 posts) 14y Star this if you like it!

i was just wondering what the best way to get to the tour would be. i was thinking about getting to liege, but might be a bit jet lagged for the TT. The TTT is a cool idea as well. we just need to know where to find public transport.

thanks for the heads up on the soccer! i remember celebrating in the US when france won the world cup.

my wife has been to france twice before (she teaches french) and i have never been off North America. im looking forward to getting to a place where i dont understand anyone.

4. Posted by Gelli (Travel Guru 2457 posts) 14y Star this if you like it!

Unusually, all of the start/finish towns in your time frame are quite easy to get to by public transport (train) from Paris.

From Paris Gare du Nord:

Liege - direct every 2 hours (or every 30mins, change in Bruxelles)
Charleroi - every 30mins, change in Bruxelles (or hourly, change in Lille)
Namur - every 30 mins, change in Bruxelles (or hourly, change in Lille)Waterloo - every 30 mins, change in Bruxelles
Wasquehal - hourly, change in Lille (a few direct also)
Cambrai - about every 90mins, changing in (depending on time) Douai/St. Quentin or Lille (and sometimes Valenciennes)
Arras - hourly
Trains to Bruxelles/Lille/Douai/Arras/direct to Liege are all TGV services which require compulsary reservation, but in many cases you can just turn up and buy for the next service. If you want a specific train or are worried about not getting on, but your ticket the first day when you get to Paris for a few days in advance

Chartres (from Paris Montparnasse) is approx hourly.

The German Railways website gives reliable timetable info.

Anything further, let me know.

Any have a fantastic time in France (and Europe as a whole) - I'm sure you'll have a brilliant time

5. Posted by rabidfish (Budding Member 3 posts) 14y Star this if you like it!


I am going to be following the Tour by car but I will be in Liege on the 3/7.

I would suggest that you consider the amiens-chartres stage I think it is as this will run very close to paris.

Also Gelli's suggestion about the TT in Liege is a good one to consider.


6. Posted by weltyed (Budding Member 5 posts) 14y Star this if you like it!

thank you for your help with all the tour information. i do have a question as to WHEN the stages start. my wife and i will be going to see the TTT finish in Arras. We think the first team departs at 2:15 pm, while the last team departs around 4:00 and arrives in Arras at about 5:15. is this correct? we just need to know to get our train tickets. how much fanfare is goin on in the city before the race gets there?

thank you very much

7. Posted by Gelli (Travel Guru 2457 posts) 14y Star this if you like it!

Hi ed,

Try for details.

Without checking, those times look reasonable, although especially on non TT stages, the finish times in particular are liable to change, depending how quick they go.

There's normally a huge fanfare going on before. It is a huge event, and generally the biggest event in the town in maybe a 5 year period. Peopleare given the day off work in allot of cases etc - theer will be stalls, revelry, competitions, games, drinking/eating, the "tour caravan" a huge procession of cars/vans/floats etc giving out stuff and the like. Normally also a big screen or two showing the race in progress. Essentially, there will be people getting there from fairly early in the morning. If you go to the Arras stage (and your times are correct), i would say you probably want to be in position, at absolute latest around 1-1.30. Preferably earlier.

You can always have a bit of a wander around Arras if you are there too early, and i'd say try and be in the city from 10 or 11, take a look around etc, be around the finish (or have found a good spot for yourselves) by 1-1.30. Don't plan on leaving the site for at least an hour after it's all over, so say train earliest 90mins after planned finish time, preferably later.

8. Posted by weltyed (Budding Member 5 posts) 14y Star this if you like it!

thanks for all the info! looks like a day trip for the ttt.