Our Top Tips for Following the Tour de France in Your Campervan
Our VW Campervan 'Grape' has just left for France today to follow the Tour...so if you are thinking about following the Tour de France for 2019...here are some great tips
1. Avoid the Traffic
Following the Tour de France in your VW Campervan is awesome way to spend a week of your summer holidays...... but PLAN PLAN PLAN & PLAN again to avoid the common mistakes that others have made, spending your trip caught up in the inevitably large volume of traffic surrounding the Tour’s route. It is estimated that around 10,000 motorhomes follow Le Tour every year, with the route traveling, mainly, along ordinary roads, often passing through small villages with narrow streets.
2. Reserve Your Campsite Now!! (exclamation marks to highlight we do mean NOW)
Needless to say, one of the beauties of having your accommodation with you is that you don’t have to plan every detail or book campsites for every night, but if you want to have a few guaranteed nights on campsites along the route (where you will generally find good showers, washing machines and electricity etc.), it’s a good idea to reserve a few soon after the route is announced in October. If you plan to head to the start, booking a campsite is an absolute must as you will want to leave your vehicle somewhere secure when the whole city knows you are not going to be in it for a certain part of the day!
3. Less is More
Don't try & do too much - balance travelling & seeing this amazing country with checking out a few days of the Tour. Many hirers in the past have told us they regretted trying to see too much and setting themselves too hectic a schedule. In fact, many have finished up seeing a great deal less than they planned because the traffic/road closures will not allow you to get to too many stages even if it looks feasible on paper. Be realistic!!
4. Find Your Vantage Point Early
Know where you are heading & get there early. Get ahead of the crowds & don’t try and see every stage, allow for days where you travel and get in position at least a day before the race is due.
5. Be Patient in the Mountains
If you head up into the mountains, be prepared to be stuck in a stage for a long time before and after the race passes. There is usually only one road up and one road down a mountain – once wedged in to a suitable parking spot, with lots of other motorhomes, you won’t be able to move whilst the stage rig and de-rig takes place. Parking somewhere nearby and hiking or biking in is definitely the best way to see mountain stages unless you are prepared to be parked up for some days to see it.
6. Don't Get Ripped Off
Stock up on food & drinks - the closer you get to the stage the higher the prices will go!
7. Take the Bike Rack
If you are keen to cycle some of the stages, taking a day or two off to do that, after Le Tour has passed through, can be very enjoyable having just seen the world’s best cyclists do it on TV or in the flesh.
8. A Map is Essential
Even in non-mountain stages, if you head for the really popular ones, parking up some distance from a stage and plotting a good hike or bike ride to the action is always a good approach to avoid frustration (and work off some of that French gourmet food too!). There are many places you can access by bike or on foot that you cannot in a Campervan, or even a car, so you just need to allow time to get in position and be prepared to take the essentials with you for the day.
9. Mind the Gap
Park in spaces that are big enough for your vehicle and don’t create too narrow a gap for others to pass you. Take extra care when reversing or going through narrow gaps – most damage that we see each year is to the back and sides of vehicles through hitting other vehicles or objects.
10. Suck it Up
You will pass through some of the most beautiful areas you have ever seen and our advice is to allow a little time to enjoy them; those images of France you see every year when you watch Le Tour on the TV are real! Slavishly trying to keep up with Le Tour is only for true fanatics and most of our clients enjoy a wonderful mix of seeing the action and enjoying the world’s number one tourist destination. Enjoy Le Tour but remember to see France while you are here!