Tour de France 14-Day Bucket List Trip Payment
Bookings for our 2018 Tour De France trip have closed. Get in early and book for 2019.
Our Tour de France small group trip provides the perfect mix of “ride more – transfer less”, with challenging and scenic rides in the Alps, Provence, Midi Pyrenees – Southern France, Pyrenees Mountains, combined with a cultural and culinary French experience of a lifetime.
Each of our Grand Tour Itineraries provides a unique experience, as the race route changes dramatically each year. You’ll have your fill of riding – race viewing, no matter whether you are cycling or non-cycling, you’ll see a vast range of France and different aspects of the Tour de France race stages, including; stage starts, midpoints, feed stations, hilltops and stage finishes.
The official Tour de France race route has been released, more route details will continue to come in, but we have the inside scoop so you can plan on riding many of the legendary French routes, including Alpe d’Huez, Mont Ventoux, Col du Tourmalet and much more – check the itinerary details to see which famous roads we will ride, when and where we will see the race.
DAY 1 – Tuesday 17 July 2018
Arrival day: Grenoble, Train Station
Pick up times: 9.30am, 10.45am, 12.15pm
Accomodation: Grenoble Center (1 of 3 nights)
THE RACE: Tues 17th July – Stage 10
Annecy – Le Grand-Bornand 159km
After the traverse and cobblestones across northern France, a rest day in Annecy, today will be interesting stage to see how the climbers will approach this this mountain stage. A new test for the race will see it climb over the plateau of Glières, with it’s 1.8km stretch of gravel. Following Glières come the climbs of, Col des Fleuries, the Côte de Romme, and the Col de la Colombière before the descent and finish into Le Grand Bornand.
One ride option today, it’s a 45km ride out into the beautiful surrounds of Grenoble to get your bearings. Todays ride is mostly about making sure everything on your bike is working properly after your travel, to spin your legs and shake off any lethargy from your travel.
We’ll get acquainted, or re- acquainted with riding in France, first timers riding in Europe are always pleasantly surprised how polite and encouraging other road users are to cyclist, you’ll really enjoy riding in France.
We’ll time our ride to be back to see the finish of todays mountain stage live on TV, we’ll watch it from a local – nearby bar to get you into the local vibe quickly, it’s going to be an exciting finish and a day for the GC riders.
Grenoble is a beautiful city to explore, it’s located at the foot of the French Alps, it’s know as the “Capital of the Alps” where the river Drac joins the river Isere.
There’s plenty to see in the city center, ask us for some great options of things to see and do, based on your personal interest, there’s beautiful architecture, Museums and high street shopping.
The Bastille, an ancient fortification sits high above Grenoble, a cable car system know as “Les Bulles” (the bubbles) makes for a great scenic journey up the mountain. The Bastille is one of Grenoble’s main attractions with fantastic views back down over the city and into the Alps. Well worth a visit.
7.30pm: Meet in the Hotel Foyer for a short walk to our restaurant.
Our welcome dinner is a great way to meet everyone in the team, mingle with the other guests over a relaxing informal dinner and drinks.
We’ll talk about our trip, what you can expect, answer any questions regarding the trip ahead or how the race is going. It’s a great time to socialise with your fellow travelling companions and share the excitement of the Tour de France and our trip ahead.
Grenoble Center (1 of 3 nights)
Conveniently located in the center of the old part of town, our hotel is Grenoble’s oldest, it’s recently been beautifully refurbished, the tram runs past the front door through the pedestrian only streets.
We choose this hotel for it’s charm, fantastic central location, easy access to explore the city, its great bars, restaurants, shopping – we are directly across the street from the famous upmarket French department store Galeries Lafayette.
This hotel will also be our “Pre Trip Hotel”, if time permits we suggest arriving at least a day prior to your trip start, it’s the best way to acclimatise and build some wiggle room into your pre trip travel schedule.
DAY 2 – Wednesday 18 July 2018
Breakfast: From 7.00am
Accomodation: Grenoble Center (2 of 3 nights)
Depart: 8am meet in the Hotel lobby
THE RACE: Wed 18th July – Stage 11
Albertville – La Rosiere 108km
Todays 108km middle distance stage will be a fast and furious climbing – descending stage. There’s very little flat ground today, there are four climbs, the Montee de Bisanne, Col du Pre into Cormet de Roselend, three descents, then onto the final 18km climb up to the ski resort of La Rosiere.
Due to the shorter distance, it’ll be an explosive stage, the strongest teams will assert themselves at the front of the race and launch their protected rider at the critical time, it’ll be a very exciting mountain top finish today.
After breakfast we will take a short, approximately 1 hour drive from our Hotel in Grenoble north to Albertville.
Albertville is also the start town for todays Tour de France stage, we are waiting on the official start time, but our hunch is a late start today, due to the short 108km stage, perhaps it’ll be a mid afternoon stage start time.
If a late start is the case, we will visit Albertville, take in the pre race atmosphere of the town then set off on our ride so we can be finished our ride in time to watch the stage finish on TV.
For us we will take the opportunity to ride south from Albertville through the Alps, we’ll take in the key sections of tomorrow’s race stage 12. We’ll have the luxury to spread much of the stage 12 race route over a more manageable two days, it will allow us to ride Alpe d’Huez the following day on race day and join in the excitement, it’ll be one of the great highlights of the 2018 Tour de France.
Join the group as we head north into the Alps, our support vehicle will also provide you with a great scenic tour of the Alps and plenty of opportunities for photo stops enroute.
Today you’ll get to experience the Col de la Madeleine, visit a traditional Alpine refuge chalet and take in some stunning Alps vistas. You’ll drive up the Lacets du Montvernier and go to the secret photo location. After a day in the Alps we’ll all meet up in the village of Saint Jean de Maurienne in a local bar to watch the finish of todays stage live on TV.
45km/60km/90km – (2500m climbing)
Our route today travels through a beautiful yet lesser know part of the Alps, we’ll ride on smaller roads with stunning vistas.
We’ll have plenty of options on offer for you today, for distance, degree of difficulty, ascents, descents, even opportunities for extra’s if you need more alpine k’s and includes amazing photo opportunities of classic Alps landscapes.
We take off from the outskirts of Albertville and follow the lush river valley bike path – bike lanes and road for around 20km toward the base of the Col de la Madeleine.
After our warm up ride along the valley it’s up the Col de la Madeleine climb, we’ll pause at the top to catch our breath and replenish ourselves at the traditional mountain chalet. The views of the Alps from the top of the Col de la Madeleine are spectacular.
After our short break at the summit of the Madeleine it’s an exhilarating 20km descent down into the valley below, we’ll pause at La Chambre at the base of the descent, we then traverse to the Lacettes du Montvernier, once at the top we will show you the secret path to get the best photo of the road below winding up the seemingly impossible gradient, with the small church perched high above the cliff face . From the top of the Lacets du Montvernier it’s a short loop ride down to our final destination, the lovely village of Saint Jean de Maurienne.
We’ll watch the finish of todays Tour de France stage live on TV with a refreshing drink in hand, it’s going to be a super exciting stage finish up to La Rosiere. Après race finish we transfer back to our Grenoble hotel (approximately 1hr 15mins).
Tonight we’ve kept the program open for you to explore Grenoble and the many dining opportunities the City has to offer.
You don’t have to go far from our central hotel, we are nearby many eateries and restaurants. Ask us for ideas, we’ll give you some suggestions based on your preferred food types and dining style!
While in Grenoble, be sure to try some of the local walnuts “Noix de Grenoble”, they enjoy an appellation of controlled origin which elevates there status and are certified to be from the region.
DAY 3 – Thursday 19 July 2018
Breakfast: from 7.00am
Accomodation: Grenoble Center (3 of 3 nights)
Depart Hotel: 7.30am
THE RACE: Thursday 19th July. Stage 12
Bourge Saint Maurice – Alpe d’Huez 175km
Today’s Alpine Queens stage is an absolute classic Tour de France parcour, it has everything and the GC riders will really start to make their move, it’s not a stage where the Tour de France will be won, but it’s a stage where the tour may be lost.
The riders start of from Bourg Saint Maurice, head over the Col de Madeleine, across to the Lacets du Montvernier, over the Col de la Croix de Fer, then finish on the 21 famous hairpins of Alpe d’Huez on their final Alpine raid for the 2018 Tour de France.
We will be there on Alpe d’Huez at Dutch Corner to see this historic stage, It’s a day not to be missed and one you will never forget.
Today is all about Alpe d’Huez.
This morning after breakfast we’ll do an early morning transfer by vehicle from our Grenoble hotel to Rochetaillée near the base of Alpe d’Huez (approx. 1hour)
Today is going to be massive, Alpe d’Huez always delivers, it’s a day that many of you will have dreamed of riding and watched highlights on TV for years. Riding Alpe d’Huez on race day is a very special day out.
Today’s rides are shorter in km’s, but have plenty of vertical meter gain, it’s a logistically tricky day, as there will be early road closures even to ride up Alpe d’Huez. We will be at our roadside position near Dutch corner well before the official promotional caravan arrives on the mountain.
Therefore we call today an active recovery day for some and for others the 14km climb to Alpe d’Huez is a more than enough.
Today there are plenty of options, you can join the group and travel deep into the Alps to watch todays race stage. We’ll work out an individual plan for your day based on your interests and preferred activity level, as there’s some great walking/hiking around Alpe d’Huez, if you are a keen hiker.
If walking isn’t your thing, we can arrange your passage up Alpe d’Huez via the Gondola/chairlift.
Alternatively you can sleep in at the Hotel, take a relaxing day to explore Grenoble’s attractions or take in some high street shopping.
45km (1100m vertical)/65km/90km (2500m vertical climbing)
We’ll start our ride from Rochetaillee and warm up on the 10km’s enroute to Bourge d’Osians village, we’ll then make our way up the famous 21 hairpin turns to Alpe D’Huez.
Today it’s race day, so it’ll be hectic with fans, picnic-ers, motorhomes and riders on Alpe d’Huez. We will ride up to the top of Alpe d’Huez and then offer the options to either come back down directly to Dutch Corner, or to continue over Alpe d’Huez and keep climbing via the Col du Sarenne, descend into the Osians valley, then ascend back up the eastern balcony roads and back up to Dutch Corner to meet up with the rest of the group.
After the excitement of being roadside on one of the biggest stages of this years Tour de France, we will descend via the quieter, yet little known scenic western balcony roads back down to Rochetaillée.
We’ll transfer via vehicle to our Grenoble Hotel.
Tonight we’ve kept the program open for you to explore Grenoble’s many dining options. We’ve got plenty of suggestions, let us know your preferred dining style and food types and we’ll point you in the right direction.
Chartreuse, the French liqueur made by the Carthusian Monks is made in the nearby Chartreuse Mountains, it’s well worth a try while we are in Grenoble, it’s made of distilled alcohol aged with 130 herbs, plants, flowers and improves with bottle age. Apparently it has been used as an effective recovery tonic by French cyclist for generations.
DAY 4 – Friday 20 July 2018
Breakfast: from 7.00am
Accomodation: Spa Hotel, Malaucene (1 of 2 nights)
Depart Hotel: 8am meet in hotel lobby
THE RACE: Friday 20th July 2018. Stage 13
Bourge d’ Osians – Valence 169km
After three massive days in the Alps, the tour will leave the mountains behind as they depart Bourge d’Osians and head over some flatter terrain to Valence.
The overall favourites will enjoy the day, take it a bit easier and let the sprinters teams control the race. It’s the sprinters only chance to shine in the second week so they will all be super motivated for the stage.
Today is Mont Ventoux:
We’ll leave the excitement of the tour behind today, we’ll see it again tomorrow. First, we’ll transfer to our new base for the next 2 nights strategically placed in Malaucene, at the base of Mont Ventoux. Transfer time is approximately three hours.
Although its not on this years TdF race route, due to our proximity, today we ride on one of the most famous and historical routes in France “The Giant of Provence” – Mont Ventoux, it towers 1600m above the flatter Cote du Rhone countryside and can be seen from miles around.
We’ll arrive at our Malaucene Hotel, take and early lunch to allow it to settle, then we’ll change into our cycling kit and roll out the door to start our raid on the Mont Ventoux loop.
The terrain in the Cote du Rhone region is brilliant, we’ll cycle in some of the famous vineyard regions and see the premier varieties of Grenache, Shiraz and Viognier growning.
The landscape around Ventoux is interesting yet varied, you’ll cycle up through mixed agricultural farmland, past fields of beautifully scented Lavender and up through the thick forests of Mont Ventoux before reaching the luna like landscape nearer the top.
Morning transfer with the group to our new hotel in Provence, Malaucene. After lunch the choice is yours to either accompany the group in the comfort of vehicle on a scenic loop of Provence – Mont Ventoux or relax poolside at our spa hotel, or take a stroll to explore the town of Malaucene.
28km/45km(1650m)/60km (1800m)/100km (3300m –double ascent)
We have plenty of options for every ability and fitness of riders today, talk to us and we’ll support you on which ever option below you’d like to tackle.
More details on the options for Mont Ventoux rides below:
Start Chalet Reynard: 28km (500m)
If your legs are a little tired from yesterdays climb up Alpe d’Huez we have the perfect option for you. It’s 6km of climbing to the top of Ventoux, pause at the Tom Simpson memorial 1km from the top before 1912m summit. Enjoy a 20km descent to Malaucene and onto our hotel. Total 28km
Start Bedoin: 45km (1650m)
Save your legs for Mont Ventoux, take a short vehicle transfer to Bedoin, then it’s 21km of climbing from Bedoin, pause at Chalet Reynard and enjoy a cool drink at the Chalet, it’s 6km to the summit – pause at the Tom Simpson memorial to pay your respects it’s only 1km from the 1912m summit. Descend 20km to Malaucene and onto our hotel. Total 45km.
Start Malaucene -The Full Loop: 60km (1800m climbing)
Mont Ventoux Loop, ride from our hotel in Malaucene, over the 12km of undulating roads and over the small col de Madeleine 440m over to Bedoin. 21km of climbing from Bedoin awaits, pause at Chalet Reynard and enjoy a cool drink at the Chalet, it’s 6km to the summit – pause at the Tom Simpson memorial only 1km from the 1912m summit. Descend 20km to Malaucene and onto our hotel. Total 60km
100km with double ascent of Ventoux – 2 sides (3300m climbing)
Mont Ventoux Loop – plus extras:
Have you ever dreamed of a double ascent of Mont Ventoux – two sides? Well it’s possible, If you have the legs, stamina, determination and time is on your side, due to our fantastic ride in – ride out location of our hotel.
Depart our hotel in Malaucene, ride 12km of undulating roads and over the small col de Madeleine 440m over to Bedoin. 21km of climbing from Bedoin awaits, pause at Chalet Reynard and enjoy a cool drink at the Chalet, it’s 6km to the summit – pause at the Tom Simpson memorial only 1km from the top. Descend 20km to Malaucene. Take in a cool drink – replenish your supplies at Malaucene then head up Mont Ventoux from Malaucene and back down to Malaucene and onto our hotel. Total 100km – 3300m vertical climbing.
We’ve had a couple of hectic days so tonight we’ll keep the program open so you can sample the dining options of Malaucene at a time that suits you. There are plenty of places to dine in town.
While in the region you may also like to sample the local Ventoux AOC wines while we are here, the Rose is particularly good on warm evenings, the local Ventoux red wines are also fantastic, they are a light and fruity blend of Shiraz, Grenache Cinsault, Mourvèdre, and Carignan.
Other personal favourite wines from the region include red wines from Gigondas, Vacqueyras and Cote du Rhone Villages AOC, they are beautiful wines and we love to sample a glass or two each time we are in the region.
Spa Hotel, Malaucene (1 of 2 nights)
Our Provence Spa Hotel is set among vineyards and olive groves, it’s strategically located at the foot of Mont Ventoux. We choose this location for it’s easy access to riding the Mont Ventoux loop, we ride out the door and we are on practically on the loop. The hotel has great Spa facilities including indoor – outdoor swimming pools, which after a few hard days riding is a nice way to cool off and unwind.
DAY 5 – Saturday 21 July 2018
Breakfast: from 7.00am
Accomodation: Spa Hotel, Malaucene (2 of 2 nights)
Depart Hotel: 8.30am, Ride from Hotel. 9am, Vehicle from Hotel
THE RACE: Saturday 21 July 2018. Stage 14
Saint Paul Trois Chateau –Mende 187km
Saint Paul Trois Chateau has hosted Tour de France stage starts in 2011, 2012 and now again in 2018. Today the race route heads due west through the tough Ardeche gorges, the Causses – Ceveness areas and into the Massif Central.
Its a very tough finish today from the town of Mende, it’s 4km up to the Mende Airport, the first 3km’s average gradient is 10% so it’ll be a finish for the strong guys – perhaps a winner from a break away! Only time will tell.
This morning we’ll take a slightly later start to the day and take a lay in, we’ve had a few big few days on the road and the bike.
This morning after breakfast we’ll head to the stage start town of Saint Paul Trois Chateau, it’s only 45km from our hotel, but we will arrive in plenty of time before the start, so we can get up close to all of the excitement, see the Pro Teams assembling, riders warming up, signing on, get a few signatures or selfies with the stars of the show.
Stage starts are a fun day on the Tour de France, the host towns come alive to the sights, sounds and atmosphere of this amazing event.
A relaxed start to the day means you’ll be able to have a lay in, breakfast and then choose between a relaxing day at the hotel or accompany the group to watch the stage start at Saint Paul Trois Chateau.
Today is a great day for cyclist to have a day off the bike too, it’s a super way to freshen up the legs, body, mind and recover for the next leg of the trip and enjoy the morning at the race start taking in the festivities, then return to the hotel after the pro’s depart the start. It’ll be a fun morning and a chance to take in some French culture in a small village.
Morning Ride to the stage start town Saint Paul Trois Chateau 45km.
Watch the Tour de France stage start, take in some lunch while you are watching the promotional caravan, the riders warming up and then roll out for the official start.
After yesterdays big day on Mont Ventoux the choice is yours to either return to hotel via an alternate bike route back to Malaucene (55km) or in the comfort of our support vehicle.
Late afternoon will be a good chance to catch up on a bit of house keeping, take some well earned rest poolside, visit Malaucene for an ice cream and check out the local bike shops and stock up on any Euro supplies you might need.
DAY 6 – Sunday 22 July 2018
Breakfast: from 7.00am
Depart Hotel: 8am meet in the Hotel lobby
Accomodation: Foix (1 of 2 nights)
THE RACE: Sunday 22 July 2018. Stage 15
Millau – Carcassonne 181km
Todays stage start rolls out of the French town famous for the Millau Viaduct bridge, its famed for being the tallest bridge in the world, it spans the Tarn river gorge, the race fast tracks its way south through the departments of the Aude and Tarn.
The route then takes in the remote yet beautiful Montagne Noire (Black Mountains) of the tarn and goes over the fabulous Pic du Nore climb at 1205m, with it’s 360 degree views of the midi Pyrenees and Pyrenees.
Today will be an opportunity for the breakaway specialist riders, as the course drops rapidly down toward the end, before a long drag to finish, at the walled citadel of Carcassonne in the Aude department.
This morning after breakfast we’ll transfer across southern France from Malaucene, to the department of the tarn that time forgot, we are headed for the small yet lovely village of Mazamet.
We’ve spent a great deal of time in this beautiful French village, the local people hold a special place in hearts and have a great historical relationship with Australia. Many of the worlds biggest sheep skin processing houses had there headquarters here as the process to separate wool from the skins was developed here in Mazamet.
Mazamet has many streets named after all of the Australian Capital cities and many of the older locals have spent large amounts of time working in Australia in the wool and sheep industry and fondly recall there time spent downunder.
Morning transfer with the group, once we arrive at Mazamet, you’ll have the chance to stretch your legs and explore the small village by foot, you’ll be able to snap a photo of the plaque that celebrates the towns hero Laurent Jalabert.
Sunday is a small market day, the town will be very excited with the Tour de France coming through, it will be a good chance to take in a drink and practise your French at the local Café de la Paix.
From Mazamet you’ll take a scenic drive through the Montagne Noire (Black Mountains) and head toward Carcassonne to catch the excitement of a Tour de France stage finish.
35km/55km – (1100m climbing)
Mazamet – Pic du Nore – Carcassone, stage finish.
After our transfer this morning, we’ll start our ride in the Town of Mazamet, it’s also a town very proud to be the birth place, of the great French Cyclist and world Champion, Laurent Jalabert.
Today we’ll follow the official race route and former training route of Laurent Jalabert out of Mazamet. We’ll leave the village, start climbing and follow the stunning river gorge road up into the mountain noire. We’ll then ride up the highlight of todays race stage, the Pic du Nore climb up through the forest roads to the top at 1205m – 20km of climbing. We’ll pause take in the fantastic views.
Todays second option (35km) is to start your ride from todays high point Pic du Nore, then descend through the tight twisting gorge roads. It’s a flatter run in, we’ll pass along the Canal du Midi as we approach the beautifully preserved walled citadel of Carcassonne.
We’ll ready ourselves near the finish line of todays stage into Carcassonne, it’ll be super exciting. After the festivities of the finish, we’ll transfer approx. 1.5 hours onto Foix, our new base for the next two nights.
8pm, we’ll meet in the foyer of our hotel and take dinner as a group.
Foix (1 of 2 nights)
Our hotel for the next two nights is on the river Ariège in Foix. The Romans built a fortified castle here on the rocky hill in the center of the village where Château de Foix castle overlooks the town, it’s beautifully preserved and stunning during the day and flood lit in the evening.
DAY 7 – Monday 23 July 2018
Rest Day 2 – Carcassonne
Breakfast: from 7.30am
Depart Hotel: 8.30am. Meet in the hotel lobby
Accomodation: Foix (2 of 2 nights)
THE RACE: Monday 23rd July 2018
Tour de France Rest Day 2 – Carcassonne
Today is a Tour de France rest day, so we’ll take the opportunity to spend a day riding and exploring this beautiful Midi Pyrenees region. This remote part of the Midi Pyrenees is important historically, some of the cave paintings in the region date back thousands of years.
After breakfast we’ll ride into the old town of Foix. Early morning is a nice time to visit the Castle Foix, there will be fewer people around and a chance to see the town slowly coming to life before the crowds arrive. We’ll pause here so you can have a wander around, take in this lovely old castle, get some photos or perhaps take in an additional coffee and croissant.
On the bike today we’ll slay some Cols, we’ll bag a bunch of them, all in a single day, as once you are over the first longer climb to Port de Lers, the rest are a series of undulating traverses on remote single lane mountain roads, it’s a fantastic Pyrenean day on the bike, a Queen’s Stage for us while the Tour de France takes a rest.
After breakfast we’ll take our vehicle and follow the cycling group into the old town of Foix, if you have a riding partner, it’s a good chance to meet up and explore the town together. Foix’s old town is beautiful, you’ll get some great photos and experience this historic village as it come to life in the cool of the morning.
Next up is a visit to the Cave (Grote) Niaux, it’s one of the most famous, decorated prehistoric caves in Europe still open to the public. It has a vast opening (55 metres high) the Niaux cave extends for more than 2 kilometres. The guided tour is 1.5 hours (in English) of the Salon Noir, heads 800 metres deep from the entrance, you’ll see more than 70 exceptional prehistoric paintings.
After your tour of the cave, you’ll commence your sightseeing loop of the Midi Pyrenees and catch up to the cycling group. You’ll see some remote and beautiful parts of the Pyrenees, pausing for landscape photo’s atop of the mountain passes.
30km/50km/70km/110km – 3000m climbing
Today we have a fantastic Midi Pyrenees loop ride planned, there is a distance to suit everyone. We’ll kick off the day riding some undulating lush river valley roads to warm up and then head into some remote forested mountain roads.
We’ll depart our hotel by bike and roll alongside the Ariège river 3km into the old town of Foix, we’ll pause for a look around the beautiful old village early morning, before we set off on our main ride.
We’ll continue on the river valley roads out of town and head south toward the Spanish border. After around 25km we’ll detour slightly and take a look at the vast opening, 55 metres high, of the Niaux cave, it houses some of Europe’s best preserved prehistoric cave paintings. Here you can choose to take in the 1.5 hour guided tour of the cave or continue on the loop ride.
After around 35km of riding undulating lush river valley roads, the climbing start in earnest as we leave the small hamlet of Vicdessos, it’s an 11.5km climb up to the Col of Port de Lers (1517m) .
What goes up must come down, it’s a 17km long undulating descent to the small village of Massat at around 60km into our ride. We’ll take a break at Massat and replenish ourselves to prepare for the next round of climbing.
Next on our agenda is a fantastic series of traverses over undulating Cols, first up the 6km climb up to Col des Caougnous (947m), Col de Peguere (1375m) – Col de Jouels – Col de Uscla – Col de Legrillou (938m), we then continue descending down to Foix to complete our loop, we’ll need a nice cold drink to celebrate our big day in the Pyrenees upon our return.
8pm: We’ll Meet in the foyer of our hotel for a group dinner to celebrate our beautiful day in the Midi Pyrenees.
DAY 8 – Tuesday 24 July 2018
Breakfast: From 7.00am
Depart: 7.30am meet in the Hotel lobby
Accomodation: Lourdes center (1 of 4 nights)
We are back chasing the race again today, in fact the race will be chasing us, we ride from our hotel to intersect the race route. The pressure is then on us to stay well ahead of the promotional caravan and the race before the road closures come into effect. It’s exhilarating and a great thrill to ride on the Tour de France race course prior to the race.
We’ll ride over the Col de Portet d’Aspet then onto the Col de Mente and then watch the pro’s come over the Col de Mente in the afternoon.
After the race we transfer to our new base Lourdes, which is deep in the Pyrenees and our base to ride all the famous Pyrenees Cols including Tourmalet and Aubisque.
THE RACE: Tuesday, 24 July 2018
Stage 16: Carcassone – Bagneres du Luchon 218km
Following a rest day, this long stage with three categorized climbs should inspire the good climbers and in particular the Spanish riders, as the race crosses into Spain today, before finishing back in France.
The Col du Portillon comes at the end of the stage, it could prove to be decisive both on the climb and the fast technical descent towards Bagnères-de-Luchon and the stage finish.
Chris Froome won the last stage finish to Bagneres du Luchon in 2016, who could forget his daring attack, while sitting on the top tube of his frame on the descent of the Col de Peyresourde. He claimed the yellow jersey that day and never looked back, will we see a repeat on the Col du Portillon today!
An early start today to get ahead of the Tour de France. It’s an exciting day as we are back chasing the race, its a race viewing day, we’ll get you close to the action, the promotional caravan, the peloton, on the course and the climb of the Col de Portet / Col du Mente.
OUR RIDES: 45km – 400m /55km – 1600m /100km – 2000m climbing
From our hotel in Foix, we will ride along an undulating course to intersect with todays Tour de France race route. We’ll pick up the race route from around the lovely Pyrenean village of St Girons.
From St Girons we’ll climb the 5.4km Col de Portet d’Aspet 1069m, near the bottom of the descent we’ll pause to pay our respects at the memorial of the 1992 Olympic Road Race champion Fabio Casartteli, who was Lance Armstrongs young team mate at the time he tragically died on stage 15 of the 1995 Tour de France.
After the descent of the Aspet, we climb the 6.9km Col du Mente (1349m). We’ll take a much needed rest after two good climbs and about 90km in our legs. We’ll settle in with the locals fans, enjoy a picnic lunch and watch the race pass at the top of the Col du Mente.
After the excitement of watching the race pass, we’ll descend the 10km Col du Mente to Saint Beat, meet up with our vehicle and catch the race finish live on TV in a local bar.
After the race finish on TV, we’ll transfer by vehicle 1.5 hours across to our new base deep in the Pyrenees, Lourdes.
Lourdes is famed for a few things, with more than 5 million visitors per year, the city is the third most visited Catholic pilgrimage site in the world. The town celebrated the150th anniversary of Bernadette Soubirous’ visions of the Virgin Mary in 2008, but the Tour de France only stopped for the first time in 1948, with the win of Gino Bartali.
Lourdes can be a little puzzling – slightly confusing at first, both in the town’s layout and the incredible sights. Although it is peak Tour de France time, the cycling pilgrims are still vastly out numbered by religious pilgrims.
The pageantry and processions may be unlike anything you have ever witnessed before, its brilliant, take in the best Gelato outside of Italy or a cool drink from the Belgium bar on the bridge and watch the world go by, it’s fascinating.
7.30pm: We’ll meet in the foyer of our hotel for a group dinner. After dinner we’ll take a walk around Lourdes, sample the delicious Gelati and catch the candle light procession at the Lourdes Cathedral / Sanctuary of our Lady, it’s a pretty moving and spectacular event each evening.
Lourdes center. (1 of 4 nights)
Our hotel is in the heart of bustling Lourdes, it’s a great town with an international flavour in the heart of the Pyrenees.
While in Lourdes be sure to head across to the Lourdes Cathedral to fill your bottles from the fresh springs that are found near the grotto, the water is beautiful and cool, if you are lucky it may contain a little devine intervention to assist you up the big hills.
DAY 9 – Wednesday, 25 July
Breakfast: From 7.00am
Depart: 8am meet in the hotel lobby
Accomodation: Lourdes center (2 of 4 nights)
Today we head across to see a historic Tour de France stage, historic for a few reasons, it’s the shortest stage in 30 years and it will finish on a new climb the Col de Portet.
We’ll traverse across the Pyrenees, sections of which will be used in Fridays Tour de France race route including the Col d’Aspin, then we’ll witness todays stage live as it comes through the ski village of Saint Lairy Soulon.
We’ll watch the race approach on TV, then head out onto the lower slopes of the final climb to see the race pass live, then watch the final 16km of the race on TV to see who will attack this great stage. It will be a great day for the podium contenders to attack the race leader to try and wrestle the Maillot Juane off the shoulders of the tour leader. Although it’s a short stage big time gaps are possible due to the tough steep climbs, especially if one of the favorites is having an off day.
THE RACE: Wednesday 25th July 2018. Stage 17
Bagneres du Luchon – Saint Lary Soulan 65km
At 65km It will be the shortest normal stage of the Tour de France in last thirty years. We think it’s a great thing from the organisers to mix up the race format and bring a little bit of the Giro type unpredictability to the Tour de France.
The short stage format will be dynamic for what should prove to be an explosive stage. The finish will be brand new, with a climb of 16 kilometres at an average gradient of over 8% and an altitude of 2,215 m to the Col de Portet, it has all the assets to become a new Col de Tourmalet.
A couple of options today, a Tour de France viewing day or a rest day in Lourdes to take in some shopping, relaxing and maybe a spot of house keeping, or take a scenic transfer across the Pyrenees over the beautiful Col d’Aspin with the group. It will be an exciting afternoon watching the festivities of the Tour de France, you’ll see the promotional caravan and the race on the lower slopes of the final climb of the Col de Portet, we’ll watch the race finish live on TV from Saint Lairy Soulan, it’s a lovely ski and outdoor adventure village with fantastic stone buildings.
OUR RIDES: 32km-1400m /55km–1400m/65km–1500m /100km–3000m Climbing
Options a plenty today with varying distances, amounts of climbing and descending, there is a ride to suit everyone.
Our long ride rolls out from our hotel, a quick tour of town by bike to get your bearings before our Pyrenean adventure. We head toward the base of the Col du Tourmalet before we veer off to climb 13km to the summit of the Col d’ Aspin. The Tour de France comes over the Col d’Aspin in the opposite direction on Friday, so you’ll get a good look at what the riders will face as we descend another Pyrenean icon.
The views from the top of the Aspin of the Pyrenees are fantastic, we’ll most likely be greeted by the curious resident cows. From the top it’s a lovely 12km descent into the valley, we then follow the river valley up stream to the beautiful ski village of Saint Lairy Soulan.
Once at Saint Lairy Soulan you can choose to relax in the village and wait for the race to arrive, or ride the final 16km climb of todays Tour de France stage – the Col de Portet, 2215m and then return back down to the village and watch the race on the lower slopes.
After the race we’ll transfer back to Lourdes by vehicle. Tonight we’ve kept the program open for you to explore Lourdes and it’s many dining options. We’ve got plenty of suggestions, let us know your preferred dining style and food types and we’ll point you in the right direction.
DAY 10 – Thursday 26 July 2018
Breakfast: From 7.00am
Depart: 8am meet in the hotel lobby
Accomodation: Lourdes center (3 of 4 nights)
THE RACE: Thursday 26th July 2018. Stage 18. Trie-sur-Baïse / Pau 172km
It’ll be a stage that offers an interlude in the Pyrenees Mountains sequence of the 2018 Tour. It’ll be an opportunity for sprinters to get back into the action. At least for those who will still be up for it after two demanding stages in the mountains.
We’ll take a day away from the Tour de France, it’s slightly north of us today. Instead, we’ll take the opportunity and ride a loop many of you will have dreamed about since your childhood. It’s your chance to ride the incredible Col du Tourmalet loop.
Your dreams will come true and you’ll achieve an incredible goal when you stand atop this famed, historic mountain pass and pose for a picture at the monument at the top summit.
A couple of options today, take a relaxing day at the hotel and explore Lourdes, it’s shopping or a dip in the cool waters of the river, or join the group as we take a scenic Pyrenees trip around the Col du Tourmalet Loop. The mountains in this part of the Pyrenees are spectacular, there is plenty of wild life to spot including Pyrenean Vultures, Wild Horses, Cows, Donkeys, Goats and if you are really lucky you may even spot a Pyrenean Bear.
OUR RIDES: 55km/65km/100km-2300m climbing
Today we have a vast amount of options to satisfy your individual needs based on how you are feeling, we don’t have the pressure of seeing the race today, so we have time to enjoy this wonderful day in the Pyrenees.
Our support vehicle will be nearby all day so you can ride as much as you like and have the confidence that you can call it a day if you need at rest at any point.
More details of our ride options for the Col du Tourmalet:
The Full Col du Tourmalet loop: 100km
Depart our Lourdes hotel by bike, it’s 35km of undulating roads to St Marie Campan where the climbing starts to ramp up. There’s some relief when you reach the ski village of La Mongie, occasionally a wild donkey to pat too and it’s only 5km to the top.
In total its a 17km climb up the Col du Tourmalet, the top of the pass is 2115m. If the weather is favourable, the Chalets at the top of the Tourmalet are a great place to pause, take in the outstanding views, slake your thirst or pick up some souvenirs from the gift shops.
After taking in the beautiful vistas from the top of the Col du Tourmalet it’s 19km down to Luz St Sauver, it’s a great place for a refreshing cool drink and a snack. From Luz St Sauver it’s a mix of Gorge roads and onto the bike path to Argeles Gazost, the final 15km sector to Lourdes is a flat rail trail and a nice warm down along the river valley to Lourdes.
Our support vehicle will provide all of the transfer options this morning to your preferred starting and finishing point.
Start Campan 65km:
This is a great option for most riders, save your legs, keep them fresh for the climb and start from Campan, it’s a gentle climb – warm up of 6km before the 17km climb.
After taking in the beautiful vistas from the top of the Col du Tourmalet it’s 19km down to Luz St Sauver, it’s a great place for a refreshing cool drink and a snack.
From Luz St Sauver it’s a mix of Gorge roads and onto the bike path to Argeles Gazost, the final 15km sector to Lourdes is a flat rail trail and a nice warm down along the river valley to Lourdes.
Finish the loop total = 65km
Start La Mongie 55km:
Transfer up to La Mongie ski station and take on the final 5km of climbing of the Col du Tourmalet up to 2115m. After taking in the beautiful vistas from the top of the Col du Tourmalet, it’s 19km down to Luz St Sauver, it’s a great place for a refreshing cool drink and a snack.
From Luz St Sauver it’s a mix of Gorge roads and onto the bike path to Argeles Gazost, the final 15km sector to Lourdes is a flat rail trail and a nice warm down along the river valley to Lourdes.
Total = 55km
Once back in Lourdes cool drinks, frothies and Gelato at the Pont du Lourdes (bridge) are mandatory to celebrate a great day.
Tonight, there will be plenty of Pro Teams staying in town as the race starts in Lourdes tomorrow morning, we’ve kept the program open for you to explore, find your favorite teams at their hotels and watch them prepare their equipment for tomorrows massive Pyrenean stage. There are plenty of dining options in Lourdes, let us know your preferred style, favourite food types and we’ll point you in the right direction. If Gelato is a favourite of yours too, we’ll let you know which are the best to visit.
DAY 11 – Friday 27 July 2018
Breakfast: From 7am
Depart: 8.30am meet in the hotel lobby
Accomodation: Lourdes center (4 of 4 nights)
THE RACE: Friday 27 July 2018 Stage 19. Lourdes – Laruns 200km
There are no miracles in cycling but the start in Lourdes is a good place to ask for some divine assistance, it represents a last opportunity to change the general classification by pushing hard on this Pyrennean “Queens Stage”.
It’ll be in the frightening climbs of the Col d’ Aspin-Tourmalet-Bordères-Soulor-Aubisque sequence that the destiny of the Yellow Jersey will be revealed.
The Tour de France starts in Lourdes today, the town will be a buzz of activity, the Pro Teams will be staying in town and will roll down to the start line. If you fancy an easy day, it is a great opportunity to take a lie in and then wander out to watch the start in Lourdes.
For the rest of us, we’ll depart our centrally located hotel by bike with a nice valley ride to warm up on the bike path, It will be a fun morning and we’ll be joined by thousands of pilgrims doing a similar thing as us today.
After we reach Argeles Gazost, we then ride the race route the same day as the pro’s onto the Col du Solour, Col du Aubisque. We’ll return to the top of the Col du Solour to witness the race pass over the most important mountain stage for this years Tour de France.
Will the yellow jersey lead the GC contenders over the top or will it be a podium contender trying to pull the yellow jersey onto their own shoulders prior to tomorrows Individual Time Trial? Only time will tell, we will be there to cheer the riders on at this key final mountain stage.
Plenty of great options again today, the Tour de France starts in Lourdes near our hotel, the town will be a buzz of activity, the Pro Teams will be staying in town and will roll down to the start line.
If you fancy an easier day, it’s a great opportunity to take a lie in, then wander out to watch the start in Lourdes, you’ll get some great photos of the riders signing in, rolling to the start, assembling on the start line and it’s a great chance for a few selfies with the riders before they head off on their Pyrenean raid.
Or if you fancy watching the race pass over the Col du Solour with the cycling group, our vehicle will be heading out early to the Col du Solour via a little know backroad we know, so you can watch the race pass over the top, there are traditional mountain chalets at the top of the Col and there will be plenty of people there so the atmosphere will be electric.
OUR RIDES: 30km flat/60km/85km -1600m climbing
As always there will be plenty of options based on how you are feeling, after an early breakfast, we’ll depart our centrally located hotel with a nice valley ride to warm up on. It will be a fun morning and we’ll be joined by thousands of others doing a similar pilgrimage today. If you’d like an easier ride today, you can ride out to Argeles Gazost then return to Lourdes in time to see the race start in town. Total = 30km
After our roll out to Argeles Gazost, we then ride the race route the same day as the Pro’s. From Argeles Gazost the road kicks up straight out of town and then settles down to a more manageable gradient for the majority of the ride until the last few km’s before the summit of the col de Soulor. At the summit of the Col du Solour, you can choose to rest up, enjoy the festivities and watch the race pass over the top of the Col.
For the rest of us we’ll roll onto one of our favourite roads in all of Europe, the traverse across to and up the Col du Aubisque, in total it is a 30km climb to ride Solour /Aubisque, but it’s manageable as there are flatter sections where you can recover when riding and take a short break at the top of the Col du Solour.
After we reach the top of the Col du Aubisque, we’ll get a photo of the enormous steel bike sculptures, maybe try a piece of the best homemade “Tarte aux Fraises” (strawberry tarte) in all of France from the Col du Aubisque chalet.
After we summit the Aubisque, we’ll return back across to the top of the Col du Solour to watch the race pass over the Col. It will be an amazing afternoon on the Tour de France to witness the race pass over the last big climb of the day and last big mountain stage for this years Tour de France. Will the yellow jersey lead the GC contenders over the top or will it be a podium contender trying to pull the yellow jersey onto their own shoulders prior to tomorrows Individual Time Trial?
Only time will tell and we will be there to cheer the riders on, on this key final mountain stage, we will watch the final part of the stage on TV at the Solour chalet.
After the race is finished we will return down the Col du Solour to Argeles Gazost and onto Lourdes for our traditional Gelato, cool drink and frothies celebrations.
Tonight we’ve kept the program open for our last night in Lourdes, the town will be a buzz for you to explore, sample it’s many dining options and evening activities.
DAY 12 – Saturday 28 July 2018
Breakfast: From 6.15am
Depart: 6.30am meet in the Hotel lobby
Accomodation: Waldorf Hotel (Paris 1 of 2 nights)
Today is a transfer day, 7am this morning we will transfer from Lourdes our Pyrenees base up to Paris.
It’s a long drive to Paris, around 850km/ 9 hours, so we’ll save ourselves some time and travel in the comfort of a TGV train. Our bikes and luggage will travel up to Paris in our support vehicle so we’ll travel lightly on the TGV. If you’ve never been on a TGV, it’s a great experience, we’ll be hitting speeds of up to 300km/hr on our way to the French capital – Paris.
We’ll be up at our hotel in Paris in time to watch the final riders complete the hilly 31km circuit on TV, we’ll find a nice bar and watch history be made and see who will be crowned 2018 Tour de France champion, will it be Chris Froome or will a new champion emerge?
This evening we have planned our farewell celebration on a wonderful scenic cruise on the River Seine, we’ll see all the famous Paris sights from the water on a Bateaux Mouches 2.5 hour cruise, which includes a prestige 3 course meal and drinks.
THE RACE: Saturday 28th July 2018. Stage . Saint-Pee sur-Nivelle – Espelette 31km
The only individual time-trial of the 105th edition measures 31 kilometres. But the geography of the Basque Country doesn’t make it one for pure time-trialists and should suit the puncher type riders.
If the hierarchy for the podium is not established, the climbers who are still fresh at the end of the Tour will be trying to make up valuable seconds today.
DAY 13 – Sunday 29 July 2018
Stage 21 – Paris
Breakfast: From 9.30am (after we return from our Paris ride).
Depart: 6am meet in the Hotel lobby
Accommodation: Waldorf Hotel, Paris (2 of 2 nights)
OUR RIDE: 6am, Early morning Paris sightseeing ride.
This morning we’ll be up with the birds at the break of dawn to start our Pari Tours ride. There is so much to see in the worlds most beautiful city. We’ll cover a lot of the well know Paris attractions. Have you camera handy, we’ll get some great shots.
Paris like many other big cities is amazingly cycle friendly early in the morning, especially on a Sunday morning.
If you are non cycling, we can assist you to arrange a Velib bike, they are actually very good for riding around town on our sightseeing trip, you can even pop a baguette in the basket if you want the authentic look.
We cover a short relatively flat loop of the city taking in most of the major sights, including The Louvre, Eiffel Tower and much more. The race organisation are on the course very early setting up, we’ll endeavour to ride up the Champs -Élysées and take group celebration photos in front of the Arc de Triumph and from the Trocdero viewpoint with it’s stunning view down over the Eiffel tower.
After our morning ride we head back to the hotel for breakfast. Staff will be on hand to assist with packing bikes in bags / boxes.
There is some time before the race arrives to explore Paris some more, let us know if you’d like some recommendations of things to see, places to visit, restaurants to lunch at or tourism via coffee shop, we know all of the best coffee shops in Paris.
It’s the final day of Le tour and although the race is normally decided by now, there is still plenty of cycling action and excitement once the race enters the Paris street circuit. The race hits town late afternoon, a spot on the Champs -Élysées is prime viewing.
The crowds for the last day in Paris are huge and add to the experience of seeing the race in it’s final stages knowing that we have chased the great race for a good part of its journey around France.
The overall winner of the race can expect to pocket 450, 000 Euro, who will it be this year?
THE RACE: Sunday 29th July 2018 Stage 21 Houilles – Paris Champs Elysee 115km
Paris Finish, like tennis players on Wimbledon’s Centre court, the sprinters play their major final of the year on the Champs-Élysées. A handful of candidates remain in contention for such an honour. The others relish the joy of making it to the finish of the Tour de France in this great city.
The race start north east of Paris and arrives soon after into Paris in the late afternoon, the race then completes it’s traditional laps of the most famous criterium circuit for an early evening finish.
Tonight we’ve kept the program open for you to explore Paris, It’s an incredible city at night and it’s dining options are endless. We’ve got plenty of suggestions for restaurants, bars and places to visit. Let us know your preferred dining style and food types.
DAY 14 – Monday 30 July 2018
Our tour finishes after breakfast at the hotel. For some guests it’s time to head home, while others will take some time in Paris or head off to explore other parts of Europe.
We choose our Waldorf hotel location in Paris as it is extremely convenient for onward travel or transfer to the airport via either train, airport bus or private shuttle. We’ll assist you and your luggage to your transfer for those heading off.
Thank you for joining us on the adventure of a lifetime at the greatest sporting event in the world.
Ciao Pat and Grace