1 Hour In France: The Ultimate Guide To The Tour de France Stages
Whilst undergoing the Main Tour through France, we will be stopping off at many incredible towns along the way. Modeled after the 1972 Tour de France, each of the Tour de France stages sees us riding from accommodation to accommodation, so there is no further travel required.
It will be grueling, and likely we will be extremely tired and weary at the end of the day and in desperate need of rest. But that doesn’t mean that we won’t be able to experience the country.
Whilst it may be tempting to eat dinner and head straight to bed as soon as you dismount from your bike, you don’t want to miss out on what France has to offer. As such, we’ve compiled a list of recommendations for what you should do in each town – if you only have one hour to spare.
Yes, this is the best of both worlds.
Not only does it allow you to spend the majority of your evenings recovering and resting, it also gives you the opportunity to briefly explore the town we will be staying in.
Sounds perfect, right?
Read on to find out the best the Tour de France stages have to offer.
Day 1: La Tranche-sur-Mer
The first of the Tour de France stages sees us stopping off in La Tranche-sur-Mer. And, if you’ve only got an hour to spare, visit the Plage de La Griere. A beautiful and quiet beach which oozes with tranquillity. Go find a bench or patch of grass to sit on, it’s the perfect place to relax and unwind after your first day of riding.
Day 2: Royan
Day 2 sees us arriving at Royan, home to the famous Église Notre-Dame de Royan. A stunning church built after the war, it’s a testament to the beauty of post-war architecture which is sadly often overlooked. And get your cameras ready, you’ll definitely want to take pictures of the most beautiful stained glass windows in France, as well as their bell tower and organ.
Day 3: Villenave D’ornon
Villenave D’ornon in Bordeaux features the Place de la Victoire, a large plaza surrounded by cafes, restaurants, and shops. But it is inside the plaza where the beauty lies. A huge column made of bronze and red Languedoc marble stands in the middle, inspired by the wineries of the city which made it so famous. Can you think of anything better to celebrate?
Day 4: Capbreton
In the mood for fish? La Marche aux Poissons in Capbreton is one of the best things to visit if you only have a limited amount of time in the town. Open every day all year, you get to experience the beautiful French harbour and watch as the fisherman haggle over their catches of the day.
Day 5: Laruns
With only a brief moment of time to explore Laruns it’s not recommended that you go on it, but the Train d’Artouste – a train which takes you around the Pyrenees – goes through Laruns as one of the many stops on the tour. Stand by the side of the mountain and take in the spectacular views. After all, it is the highest train in Europe!
Day 6: Luchon
Luchon – otherwise known as the Queen of the Pyrenees – is a spa town, home to many fresh and idyllic springs. But it’s the waterfall known as Cascade D’Enfer which is worth the visit. An incredible view to behold, you can watch the water flow down the rocks into the pool below and allow the fresh spraying water to cool you down after a long day of cycling.
Day 7: Toulouse
One of the best Tour de France stages comes on day 7. Toulouse holds the nickname ‘La Ville Rose’ meaning the pink city, thanks to its terracotta architecture and gorgeous buildings. So what should you do if you only have an hour to bask in the views? Visit the Garonne river and walk over one of the many bridges which have been standing proudly in the city for years.
Day 8: Lacaune
If you fancy yourself a gambling man (and want to spend some time sitting down!) then take a trip over to the Casino de Lacaune. With some of the machines being vintage, it’s a quaint and quiet evening of betting and – hopefully – winning!
Day 9: Palavas-les-Flots
Don’t let the name fool you. The Parc du Levant is much more than a simple park. Not only does it boast a playground and carousel, but you can also visit a museum and lake whilst you’re at it. The perfect place to sit and relax in the evening as the sun sets across the water.
Day 10: Carpentras
The mid-point of the Tour de France stages: a stay in Carpentras wouldn’t be complete without visiting the 13th century La Synagogue. It represents the history of migration for many Jewish people and thus is a very special and valued historical site. Whether you want to tour it yourself or do so with the accompaniment of a guide, you can experience the stunning architecture and marvel at the views.
Day 11: Sisteron
Sitting next to the River Durnace, Sisteron is a beautiful city home to the even more beautiful La Citadelle. The still-intact fort originating from the 12th century looks out across the water. It’s the most scenic and calming place to take pictures, breathe in the fresh air, and get to know the city of Sisteron better.
Day 12: Embrun
Reflecting the very heart of the town, the Place Eugène Barthelon is lively, beautiful, and a great place to relax in the sun. Pop into one of the little shops and cafes that encircle it, or even visit one of the markets open throughout the week. The vibrant colours and often live music make it a great place for some dancing and fun.
Day 13: Briançon
What to do in France’s highest city? Well, go check out the views of course! You won’t struggle to find a spot in Briançon that is worth taking a break at. There are little campsites, grassy areas, and hiking trails everywhere. So grab a coat, it may be windy up there!
Day 14: Le Bourg d’Oisans
Le Bourg d’Oisans is home to the Musee des Mineraux – a museum of crystals and minerals both rich in beauty and history. Look up close and personal to the literal gems of the town, and take a moment to unwind from the ride as you walk through the museum. Congratulations, you’re 2 weeks into the tour!
Day 15: Albertville
The host of the 1992 Winter Olympics, Albertville is known for many things. But one of the most impressive is its medieval town called Cite Medievale de Conflans, which has remained the same since the reign of the Count of Savoy in the mid-1300s. Stepping into the town is like stepping back in history as you get to explore the maze of streets dotted with colourful houses and luscious greenery.
Day 16: Divonne-les-Bains
Another spa town, Divonne-les-Bains sits on the border of Switzerland near Lake Geneva. If, by this point in the tour, you’re feeling tired and want something more relaxing to do – take a walk down to Lac de Divonne. Here you’ll see kayakers, cyclists, runners, and wildlife making use of the park’s views.
Day 17: Dole
French Biologist Louis Pasteur – famous for his discoveries to do with vaccinations and diseases – grew up in the town of Dole and you can visit his family home to see where he lived. If you take a trip down into the basement you can even see his father’s old leathering tools from when he was a leather worker, as well as heading upstairs to admire the mementos from Louis’ childhood which have been archived in his home.
Day 18: Avallon
Ran by two sisters, the Musee du Costume is an old house and now converted museum showcasing old theatre costumes, fashionwear, artwork, and more. You can take a guided tour throughout the museum led by one of the owners, and experience the history of Avallon through its antique French clothing dating all the way back to the 16th century.
Day 19: Nemours
What was once a gorgeous castle, the Château-Musée de Nemours is now a museum and home to a large collection of French pottery. The castle dates back to the 12th century and sits on a river, so is the perfect place to go for a slow walk past the bridge and church also on your penultimate day of the tour.
Day 20: Paris
What not to do in Paris? It’s your last day and you’ve just completed the Tour de France. Congratulations! If you have any energy left in you and still want to be a tourist for a little while, then you have lots to choose from. From the Eiffel Tower, to Notre-Dame, the Louvre, and so much more. However, it’s the Sacre-Coeur which is really worth a visit. Sitting atop a grassy hill, walking up to its doors gives you plenty of time to reflect back on your trip. And the stunning Catholic paintings and décor inside are nothing to shy away from either.
If you would like to experience riding the 1972 Tour de France, then check out our About Us page! Grand Velo Tours offers rides through France with an amazing team of experienced cyclists!