Tour de France 2014 travel guide

It’s Tour de France time and following on from the two-wheeled exploits of Sir Bradley Wiggins, Sir Chris Hoy and Laura Trott in the summer of 2012, cycling has never been so popular in the UK. With 1.6million more bikes sold than cars in the UK during 2013, it’s time to pack our saddle bags and head to France and join the peleton…

The Tour is coming

The Tour is coming

The Tour de France kicks off in the UK – with stages heading down from Yorkshire to London – but many Brits will be planning to hop the Channel and catch a few stages before heading south to continue their hols. Skimp on your planning, though, and you’ll be met by jam-packed hotels and clogged highways. Help’s at hand though, with’s guide to beating the crowds and getting the most out of this iconic sporting event.

Tour de France at a glance
If you’re new to the saddle then here’s our instant guide to all you need to know about the 2014 event.

History: A brief history of the Tour de France

The Tour de France was started by a journalist named Geo Lefevre, who, along with 60 fellow cyclists, set out on the streets of Montgeron near Paris. The spectacle drew large numbers of spectators and the Tour was born.

Lance Armstrong previously held the record for most wins with seven victories, but admitting his penchant for illegal performance-boosting ‘substances’ resulted in his name being scrubbed off the winners’ roll of honour in 2012. This left Miguel Indurain, Jacques Anquetil, Bernard Hinault and Eddy Merckx to share the spoils with five Tour wins each.

When and where: Dates and places for 2014

The Tour de France 2014 starts on Saturday July 5 in Leeds and travels through three stages in England, with the final Brit leg ending opposite Buckingham Palace on Monday July 7.

Hopping over to France, the Tour saddles-up and pushes on from Le Touquet in Northern France on Tuesday, July 8. The route will then take cyclists through a small incursion into Belgium before dropping to the Alps and Pyrenees for the all-important Saint-Gaudens – Saint-Lary Pla d’Adet stage, before looping back to finish in theChamps-Élysées on Sunday July, 27.

Race-day stages: Your day-by-day guide to where the riders are

Stage NoDateRouteDistance
1Saturday, July 5thLeeds > Harrogate190.5km
2Sunday, July 6thYork > Sheffield201km
3Monday, July 7thCambridge > Londres155km
4Tuesday, July 8thLe Touquet-Paris-Plage > Lille Métropole163.5km
5Wednesday, July 9thYpres > Arenberg Porte du Hainaut155.5km
6Thursday, July 10thArras > Reims194km
7Friday, July 11thÉpernay > Nancy234.5km
8Saturday, July 12thTomblaine > Gérardmer La Mauselaine161km
9Sunday, July 13thGérardmer > Mulhouse170km
10Monday, July 14thMulhouse > La Planche des Belles Filles161.5km
Rest dayTuesday, July 15thBesançon – rest dayN/A
11Wednesday, July 16thBesançon > Oyonnax187.5km
12Thursday, July 17thBourg-en-Bresse > Saint-Étienne185.5km
13Friday, July 18thSaint-Étienne > Chamrousse197.5km
14Friday, July 19thGrenoble > Risoul177km
15Friday, July 20thTallard > Nîmes222km
Rest dayFriday, July 21stCarcassonne – rest dayN/A
16Friday, July 22ndCarcassonne > Bagnères-de-Luchon237.5km
17Friday, July 23rdSaint-Gaudens > Saint-Lary Pla d’Adet124.5km
18Friday, July 24thPau > Hautacam145.5km
19Friday, July 25thMaubourguet Pays du Val d’Adour > Bergerac208.5km
20Friday, July 26thBergerac > Périgueux54km
21Friday, July 27thÉvry > Paris Champs-Élysées137.5km

Teams: Details on teams and how to follow their progress

Team: AG2R Lan Mondiale
Country: France
Follow on Twitter for live updates: @AG2RLAMONDIALEc

Team: Astana Pro Team
Country: Kazakhstan
Follow on Twitter for live updates: n/a

Team: Belkin Pro Cycling Team
Country: Netherlands
Follow on Twitter for live updates:

Team: BMC Racing Team
Country: United States
Follow on Twitter for live updates: @BMCProTeam

Team: Bretagne-Séché Environnement
Country: France
Follow on Twitter for live updates: @EquipeBSE

Team: Cannondale
Country: Italy
Follow on Twitter for live updates: N/A

Team: Cofidis, solutions crédits
Country: France
Follow on Twitter for live updates: N/A

Country: France
Follow on Twitter for live updates:

Team: Garmin-Sharp
Country: United States
Follow on Twitter for live updates: @ride_argyle

Team: IAM Cycling
Country: Switzerland
Follow on Twitter for live updates: @IAMcyclingFans

Team: Team Katusha
Country: Russia
Follow on Twitter for live updates: @katushacycling

Team: Lampre-Merida
Country: Italy
Follow on Twitter for live updates: @Lampre_Merida

Team: Lotto-Belisol
Country: Belgium
Follow on Twitter for live updates: @Lotto_Belisol

Team: Movistar Team
Country: Spain
Follow on Twitter for live updates: @movistar_team

Team: Orica-GreenEDGE
Country: Australia
Follow on Twitter for live updates: @Orica_GreenEDGE

Team: Team Europcar
Country: France
Follow on Twitter for live updates: @TeamEuropcar_fr

Team: Team Giant-Shimano
Country: Netherlands
Follow on Twitter for live updates: @giantshimano

Team: NetApp-Endura
Country: Germany
Follow on Twitter for live updates: @NetAppEndura

Team: Team Sky
Country: Great Britain
Follow on Twitter for live updates: @TeamSky

Team: Tinkoff-Saxo
Country: Russia
Follow on Twitter for live updates: @tinkoff_saxo

Team: Trek Factory Racing
Country: United States
Follow on Twitter for live updates: @TrekFactory

Getting there

Making your way to France and travelling around – with your bike.

How to take your bike on holiday with you

How to take your bike on holiday with you

Airport parking: Beat bottlenecks at ports and the tunnel by flying straight to where the two-wheeled action’s taking place. Pick the airport you’re departing from and get an instant quote for your airport parking.

BristolNewcastleMore airports

Taking your bike on a plane: If you’re heading to the Tour de France, you’re more than likely be taking your bike, too. In order to fly with a bike, you’ll need to pack your machine in a bag or box. You can buy cardboard boxes or expensive hard cases, but many cyclists go for cheap plastic bags. Packing your top-notch set of wheels in a flimsy see-through bag might seem a little foolish, but many cyclists report that because baggage handlers can see there’s a bike inside, they are more inclined to treat it with greater care than an anonymous box or heavy carrying case. Some airlines have strict rules about what you pack your bike in, so check with first – but the plastic bag is the cheapest option and safest for your bike, according to many cyclists. Get your plastic bike bags here

Send your bike ahead: Once packed, you’ll need to plan how you’re going to get the bike from home to airport check-in desk. Get round this by using a great new service that will collect your bike from home then forward it to your destination hotel. Using this method will avoid complicated booking procedures – which vary by airline – and bypass the possibility of check-in staff refusing to load your cycle if they’re not fully aware of the carrier’s transit policy. The Luggage Mule service also means your bike is fully trackable throughout its journey.
How much to take bike to France: £99.99 return
Who: Contact Luggage Mule here

Hiring a car: It’s likely you’ll need a hire car when you get to France, so make sure you follow our recent advice on how to beat hidden charges when booking one. Follow our advice and you could easily save £100s.
Beat hidden hire car costs: Click here for our cost-saving guide 

Bike racks for your car Despite a willingness to supply many accessories to increase rental charges, we’ve not been able to locate any that firms that offer bike racks. You can get round this by hiring a large estate/SUV or by renting a rack from one of the many cycle hire shops in France – such as – where you should expect to from around £20.00 per week.

Interactive route map

Use our interactive map to plan your route around the 2014 Tour.

Hover your cursor over the small map (bottom) left for a close-up view each stage.

At the races

Now that you’ve made it to France, you’ll need to plan how and where you’re going to view the action – plus where you’re going to stay. Follow our guide to get the best out of your experience at the 2014 Tour de France.

The Tour de France:image credit

The Tour de France:image credit

Watching the race
Here are our top tips for getting the best view of the main event.

Research: With more than 12million spectators lining the route of the tour, you’ll need to plan where you’ll be watching from. The best advice is to use your hire car and avoid watching the race from town centres. You’ll get a much better view and space to have a picnic if you head into the countryside.

Get there early: Statistics show that most people spend around six hours at the side of the course, so plan to arrive at your chosen location at least four hours before the riders are expected to pass. You’ll need to make it even earlier on mountain stages, because road closures are instigated many hours before the pack arrives.

Publicity caravan: Arriving early will also mean you get to enjoy the legendary Publicity caravan that precedes the riders by around 45 minutes. This is an hour-long precession of floats and individuals throwing sweets, cheese, keychains, hats, and other random tat into the crowd. It’s even got its own Facebook page – check out the photos here

Mountains: Unlike lowland stages where riders will speed past you in seconds, mountain climbs provide a much better opportunity to view the riders and immerse yourself in the Tour ambience. However, some of the passes used for these stages will close the day before the race, or arbitrarily when there are no parking spaces left at the side of the road. A great solution is to camp near the base of the climb, then get up early and hike up the mountain to find a viewing point. Remember many of the stages can go above the tree-line so there’ll be no shade or respite from the hot mountain sun – take plenty of water and suncream.

Ride up: It’s traditional for members of the public to ride up the Tour’s mountain climbs on the race-day morning, making a great way to secure the best vantage point while also experiencing what the riders go through. Once again, remember to take fluids and sunblock.

Get ready for the riders: Make sure you’re ready for the arrival of the peleton by looking out for helicopters. These follow and film the entire race, so make an effective early warning system to alert you to the approaching riders. You should also download a smartphone app to keep you up to date with all the latest live news from the day’s stage. You can download the official Tour app for your phone here Be aware of data charges, though.

Paris: The best place to watch the final stage of the Tour is not in Paris, but on television. For starters, the final part of the race is no more than an exhibition – where riders do not attempt to race – and you’ll have to pay pots of cash to secure seats in prime locations. We’d certainly advise you stick to rural areas.

Where to stay

Most hotels will be full up or have hugely inflated rates to coincide with the ride, so check out these offers from, which introduces visitors to home owners who’ll rent anything from a room to an entire apartment or house – at great prices. Here are links to accommodation close to all the various stages. All hosts are vetted by the sites. Please note, links will expire after the date of the stage passes.

4 Tuesday, July 8th: Le Touquet-Paris-Plage > Lille Métropole

Where to stay: Find accommodation here 

5 Wednesday, July 9th: Ypres > Arenberg Porte du Hainaut

Where to stay: Find accommodation here

6 Thursday, July 10th: Arras > Reims

Where to stay: Find accommodation here

7 Friday, July 11th: Épernay > Nancy

Where to stay: Find accommodation here 

8 Saturday, July 12th: Tomblaine > Gérardmer La Mauselaine

Where to stay: Find accommodation here

9 Sunday, July 13th: Gérardmer > Mulhouse:

Where to stay: Find accommodation here

10 Monday, July 14th: Mulhouse > La Planche des Belles Filles

Where to stay: Find accommodation here

Rest day Tuesday, July 15th: Besançon – rest day

Where to stay: Find accommodation here

11 Wednesday, July 16th: Besançon > Oyonnax

Where to stay: Find accommodation here

12 Thursday, July 17th: Bourg-en-Bresse > Saint-Étienne

Where to stay: Find accommodation here 

13 Friday, July 18th: Saint-Étienne > Chamrousse

Where to stay: Find accommodation here

14 Friday, July 19th: Grenoble > Risoul

15 Friday, July 20th: Tallard > Nîmes

Where to stay: Find accommodation here

Rest day Friday, July 21st: Carcassonne – rest day

Where to stay: Find accommodation here 

16 Friday, July 22nd: Carcassonne > Bagnères-de-Luchon

Where to stay: Find accommodation here

17 Friday, July 23rd: Saint-Gaudens > Saint-Lary Pla d’Adet

Where to stay: Find accommodation here

18 Friday, July 24th: Pau > Hautacam

Where to stay: Find accommodation here 

19 Friday, July 25th: Maubourguet Pays du Val d’Adour > Bergerac

Where to stay: Find accommodation here 

20 Friday, July 26th: Bergerac > Périgueux

Where to stay: Find accommodation here


21 Friday, July 27th: Évry > Paris Champs-Élysées


Where to stay: Find accommodation here 



Cycle your own race
Alpe d'Huez: image credit

Alpe d’Huez: image credit

It’s likely you’ll be combining your visit to the Tour de France with a spot of cycling yourself – and there’s no better way to emulate the two-wheeled greats than doing battle with the Alps or Pyrenees. We’ve put together a list of the five best climbs to tackle as you ride your very own Tour de France.

Five mountain climbs to tackle

Choose your mountain here, then get more details by clicking the tabs below.

Ride your your own mountain stage

Ride your your own mountain stage

Load your bike and head for these classic mountain climbs in the Alps and Pyrenees. Ride your own personal Tour de France and experience the pain and glory for yourself.

Col du Tourmalet
Start from: Sainte-Marie-Campan
Distance: 17.1km
Average gradient: 7.3%
Details: Part of the first ever Tour de France in 1910 – and visited by it more than 80 times since. Start in the town of Sainte-Marie-Campan and traverse the eastern approach for 17km until topping out at 2115m. The Tourmalet, along with the Peyresourde, Aspin and Aubisque, make part of the classic Tour de France stage through the Pyrenees, which is known as the circle of death.

Mont Ventoux
Start from: Bédoin
Distance: 21.1km
Average gradient: 7.6%
Details: One of the hardest mountain climbs in France, with a relentlessly steep start that cuts through beautiful tree-lined slopes. Once again, though, the final stage of the climb are without vegetation and expose riders to stunning views – leaving them to be battered by wind and sun. The mountain is infamous for the death of Tommy Simpson in 1967, who collapsed in the inferno-like heat as he approached the top. A monument not stands near the spot he fell.

Col d’Izoard
Start from: Briançon (northern approach)
Distance: 19.5km
Average gradient: 5.9%
Details: A classic climb that boasts plenty of Tour history. These were the slopes where legendary winners Fausto Coppi and Louison Bobet both launched their race-winning attacks. A memorial stands to both men near then summit.

L’Alpe d’Huez
Start from: Bourg d’Oisans
Distance: 13.8km
Average gradient: 7.9%
Details: It’s not the longest or steepest of climbs, but it’s certainly the Tour’s most well-known. With 21 hairpins that wind their way up the rock face from Bourg d’Oisans it’s a must-go destination for any serious fan – a natural theatre of sport. Visit the climb early on race day (Wednesday 16th July) and let the 500,000 cycling fans who line the climb power you to its summit. Look out for the hordes of orange-clad Dutch fans who party on the Alpe for days before the peloton’s arrival.

Col du Galibier
Start from: Valloire
Distance: 17.5km
Average gradient: 6.9%
Details: Expect a long, hard grind to the Plan Lachet, before the route enter a series of steep switchback as it climes the face. The gradient hardly falls below 8%. This is a daunting yet beautiful climb, which finishes with a final challenge that taunts riders with a 1km run with a gradient of over 10%.

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