Tour de France 2016
Le Grand Tour is big business in France; each summer the country becomes gripped with cycling fever.
People from all over the globe watch as nearly 200 cyclists battle it out across a demanding route that covers flat, hilly, mountainous and high altitude stages.
The 2016 Tour de France sets off from the foot of the iconic Abbey of Mont-Saint-Michel in Normandy on Saturday 2 July, and finishes three weeks and 21 stages later, with a triumphant ride along the Champs d’Élysées in Paris.
Get to grips with everything you need to know about the event with our guide to watching the tour, complete with route map and closest campsites.
Saturday 2 July
Catch the action of the Grand Depart as the cyclists head off from Mont-St- Michel towards Utah beach on day one of the Tour.
To catch the Grand Depart stay at any of the North Brittany and Normandy campsites.
Sunday 3 July – Monday 4 July
Over the first few days the tour goes around the north coast of France before heading away from the coast and into the heart of France.
To catch the action on day 2 and 3 stay at: Camping du Golf, Yelloh! Village la Vallée, Domaine des Ormes and Camping le Châtelet.
Wednesday 13 July
As the tour approaches the south of France, the race sets off from the beautiful city of Carcassonne before heading along the coast to Montpellier.
Campsites nearby: Les Mediterannees – Beach Garden (123km)
Thursday 14 July
The day’s action starts in Montpellier before heading inland again.
Campsites nearby: Camping le Palavas
Friday 15 July
Today the tour’s first time trial takes place from Bourg Saint –Andéol to La Caverne du Pont d’Arc in the Ardèche. This region is beautiful and will provide a stunning back drop for the time trial.
Campsites nearby: Camping la Plage Fleurie (available to book from mid-January) & Camping Château de Boisson
Sunday 17 July
As the tour starts to make its way towards the mountains, stage 15 makes its way from Bourg-en-Bresse to Culoz.
Campsites nearby: French Alps, Culoz is 63km the campsites at Lake Annecy
Tuesday 19 and Wednesday 20 July
The 19th is a rest day in Berne, Switzerland. It’s fascinating to see all of the vehicles and work that goes into the Tour de France. You can normally wander around the tour village and maybe even spot a few famous faces. On Wednesday Berne is the starting point to the race.
Campsites nearby: Camping Manor Farm, Interlaken
Thursday 21 July
The 21st sees the second time trial of the tour with the cyclists sprinting into Megève.
Campsites nearby: French Alps, Lake Annecy
Friday 22 July
The stage between Albertville and Saint-Gervais Mont Blanc will take the cyclists through some of the most mountainous terrain of the tour. Mont Blanc will provide the backdrop for most of the stage.
Campsites nearby: To wave the cyclists off into the mountains, the sites at Lake Annecy are closest.
Saturday 23 July
The penultimate stage sees the cyclists take on a short but intense stage as the race heats up for the yellow jersey. The stage starts in Megève and powers through to Morzine.
Campsites nearby: Camping Saint Disdille, Lake Geneva (available to book from mid-January)
Sunday 24 July
The final day! The sprint up the Champs Élysées is always a fantastic sight to see and the atmosphere in Paris will be electric!
Campsites nearby: Camping la Croix du Vieux Pont and Les Etangs Fleuris
A word of advice
While it’s thrilling to watch, the Tour de France does draw big crowds. It’s worth checking your route if you are planning on catching the action (or driving to your campsite on a day when the Tour is nearby). Roads are often closed for the whole day, and traffic queues can be long. It’s always best to get to your chosen viewing spot early. Pack a picnic and wait for the action.
If you’re not staying nearby, you can still catch the action. Most campsites have televisions available in the bar and restaurant areas, so you can still watch the event accompanied by a nice drink. If all the cycling has left you thirsty for more, why not look for a campsite that offers bike hire, or better still take your own.