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How to watch the Tour de France between Blagnac and Brive?

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May 15th, 2012, 08:46 PM
  #1
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How to watch the Tour de France between Blagnac and Brive?

I am going to be staying in the Dordogne in July and recently realized that the Tour de France will be about 1.5 hours east of my lodging (in "normal" traffic) during my time there. My husband is an avid cyclist and was scheduled to arrive the day after the tour passes through this area.

We are trying to decide if it is worth changing his ticket (expense, extra time off work, change in our travel itinerary etc) so that we can both try to see the Tour. I understand that the specifics of the route will not be published until June, so I do not know much other than the start and finish for that stage,

I understand that with road closures and crowds the viewing can be tricky, especially for someone like me who is very unfamiliar with the area. I am hoping that perhaps there is someone with a little experience who can let me know how challenging it will be to come in from the West and find a cute spot along the road to picnic and watch the caravan and cyclists (and how far ahead of time we need to plan to be there).

Alternatively, we have friends who live in Toulouse and it is possible that we could stay with them the night before and then either watch the start or drive up a bit and find a spot to "park" ourselves - but I am concerned about the crowds in Blagnac and driving parallel to the course (unless we get an early start - how much ahead of the race do they close the roads?)

Sorry for the long winded question - thanks in advance for any advice!!
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May 16th, 2012, 12:24 AM
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Do you have a really good map of the area - Michelin 3 series, if memory serves? I'd have him arrive the 18th if the stage is on the 20th.

With a detailed map and knowledge of the exact route you should be fine. you want to make sure the morning of you are on the "right side" of the route for your planned approach. Look for small roads leading up to the route and choose which one to park and then walk over.
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May 16th, 2012, 01:15 AM
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You might find this blog post useful: http://www.insitutravel.com/blog/gui...e-when-part-1/

As for your idea of the Dordogne or the Toulouse area, either could work for you depending on your schedules. It would probably be more exciting to see the race along the route, than at the start. The starts and finishes can get quite crowded an you might not be able to get close enough to really see the riders well.

Seeing the race on the route: even if you're not in the mountains, see if you can't find a spot on a good hill to view the race. On the flat sections, they'll buzz past you in mere seconds and it will be over before you know it.
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May 16th, 2012, 02:22 AM
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If you want to watch The Tour - stay home and turn on the tv.
If you want to experience The Tour you have got to be there.

You'll need to take up a roadside spot a bare minimum of 3-4 hours ahead of the time they're expected through. The crowds will be buzzing with anticipation - growing to near fever pitch as the alotted time approaches. Bring plenty of food for sharing and you'll very quickly make excellent friends with your neighbours!

The cyclists when they pass will indeed be gone in a blur, but the whole circus takes some time to pass, and there's plenty to see - sponsors cars often distribute goodies en route, and the team cars, media wagons, gendarmerie etc etc.

In short - a great and memorable day out. Just don't go expecting to see the race!

Dr D
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May 16th, 2012, 04:29 AM
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While there is attention focused on this thread:

I'm going to see a stage of the Giro on Tuesday. We will be in Limone sul Garda. We basically have a choice - see it there, at the start, or head to perhaps Riva del Garda and wait there.

The plus of the start is that we will see a lot of hubbub and a lot of riders. I've been told the Giro isn't as crowded as the Tour and so we would have a better chance of getting closer. True, not true?
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May 16th, 2012, 05:13 AM
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Hi lynnalan, you may want to look at http://www.velowire.com/blogcat/22/e...ance-2012.html
which is basically a blog that collates all "rumors" about the route etc of le Tour. We visited France in 2010 and I followed ths guys blog re route and he was right on the money some time before the official route was published. He even answered an email from me regarding best place to set ourselves up to watch.
It was a fantastic experience ( and I'm not even a huge cycling fan) - set yourselves up well ahead of time with a picnic, the caravan comes through about 45-60 mins prior to the race and throws out all manner of promo stuff, and then when you hear the helicopters they won't be far away. As suggested, try to find a climb or corner because on the flat they will be past in an instant.
Click on my name and go back to 2010 ish for my post that received several useful answers.
It was a wonderful experience!
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May 16th, 2012, 05:25 AM
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Thank you everyone - this is very helpful! It does energize me to want to make it work and give me a bit of confidence. InSituTravel thank you for the link to the blog post (and I like your website). I may be back with another question or two in June when the details on the route are posted - thanks!
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May 16th, 2012, 07:37 AM
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I second what ozgirl and Dr_DoGood said, though I wish I had come across that velowire blog in my research for my trip last year. Click on my user name to find my trip report if interested.

I saw four stages last year and it does take up a big chunk of your day but I think you can easily get to the route earlier in the day and set up and enjoy the whole show. Quite a community of followers.Once the whole field has passed, the road clears quite quickly, and you can easily use side roads to make a quick getaway.

Before the race there are many cyclists riding part of the route before the roads are closed - and even after it is closed to vehicles. Is it worth a day of your trip? Only you can decide that. Enjoy!
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May 16th, 2012, 03:34 PM
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Fodorites are the best! Ozgirl that is a great link and eigasuki I did read and savor your trip report. You should be a writer (maybe you are ....)
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May 23rd, 2012, 01:15 AM
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Just checked the official site and many of the details of the stages are already online. (a bit early this year).

lynnalan, this includes the town by town & the hourly itinerary for Stage 18, Blagnac to Brive-la-Gaillarde.

http://www.letour.fr/2012/TDF/COURSE...par_etape.html

Looks like the profile won't be available until June though. However, there are four (smaller) climbs on this stage. Depending on where you are, you might want to see the race on one of these climbs. The racers will be going a little bit slower, so it's a bit easier to see them go by.

But if you've decided to see another stage than #18, that info is now online too.

http://www.letour.fr/2012/TDF/COURSE..._parcours.html

Have fun!
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May 23rd, 2012, 10:47 AM
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Hi lynn/alan
We saw 4 stages of the Tour in 2011. It was a hoot. I say go for it, especially since your husband is an avid cyclist. This is the super bowl.

When we were in the southwest of France we chose Stage 10 Aurillac to Carmaux to first see the Tour. Using the stage map/time from the Tour website we chose to see the Tour at Figeac.

http://www.letour.fr/2011/TDF/COURSE...par_etape.html

We were staying in the Dordogne near Sarlat. Our day went as follows:
Left Sarlat early morning , stopped at Grotte de Pech Merle to see the fabulous cave art and rock formations.We then drove the scenic Cele valley into Figeac just before noon guided by Lady Garmin, the voice from heaven.Here the planning stopped. We drove right into the Tour route as a barrier went up. Now what? We asked a police officer, in Costco French(My sons description of his French learned from a purchased CD) what to do, he told us stop right there. So we ended up parking in the street which was to be just 10 feet from the passing cyclists.

We then walked 4 blocks to the main street and bought baguette sandwiches from a boulangerie who set up a table out front and were selling sandwiches as fast as they could make them. Back to our spot near the car for our picnic lunch.

The caravan started to come by at 1:20PM. The 8 and 12 year old grandsons had a blast for about an hour and a half getting handouts and tossed goodies from the caravan. At 2:58 PM the race came by. It turned out to be a good place to watch as we were at the top of an incline , we could see the racers coming at us from the bottom about 4-6 blocks away. And where we were there was a sharp left turn so they slowed down for our viewing. After they passed the crowd cleared out, we took a walking tour through the town, had a coffee at a cafe, returned to our car, and we were on our way to Sarlat.

So don't sweat the details, or worry about the traffic and which roads will be closed. It will all work out.You are up for the challenge.

Our vacation continued with more Tour in Carcassonne, Gap, and Paris Champs-Elysees.
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