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Going to France and taking in a stage of the Tour

jonbob78jonbob78 Posts: 70
edited November 2012 in Pro race
Hi
After many years of trying to tie the tour into our annual holiday to France it finally looks like like next year is going to be the first which has been signed off by the better half!

We'll be arriving in France on 12th July so will be able to watch the stage starting in Tours on our way to the Vendee.

Having 3 kids ( 5 YO daughter and 18month old twin boys) we will have to juggle them and make it fun for our daughter, who is currently really into cycling as part of the Wiggo effect and VP being on strictly.

So, the question is where roughly on the route to watch it.

I'm assuming the 'caravan' goes pretty quickly through the areas of low density spectators and will slow down somewhat through the towns etc so we can get some freebies for the kids (and maybe a bag or Haribos or two for me!!)

Currently thinking along the lines of the feeding station being 2/3rds of the way through the stage so watching it 200m or so after the feeding station whereby the musettes/old bottles are discarded etc for some memorabilia?

Any thoughts? Appreciate there is still plenty of time for the route to be confirmed etc but needing to book ferries & campsites which would depend etc.

Thanks

Posts

  • ocdupalaisocdupalais Posts: 3,947
    jonbob -
    Before I offer you an almost certainly worthless response, I'd just like to say thank you for what must be about the most unjaded, uncynical and wholesomely genuine question around here for quite a while*

    I haven't really looked in detail at the route yet, but I can offer my "guiding principle": Roadside Tour watching has to involve big screens/decent sized bar with telly to keep abreast of the race finish - you've got a mini tribe in tow who might not be as engrossed as you, so somewhere nearer the end rather than start might work better (to enable you to actually find out who won, rather than having to slope off early because daughter/missus/you needed a pooh). I'm assuming you're coming in on one of the D-Day landing beaches rather than Calais (St Malo, Cherbourg, Caen?)? If you get a chance, try to find a village/town that you think you can reach without getting caught up in road closures, etc that's about 30-40km from finish. Then, ideally, find a bar that's got the whole French family fete thing going on (rather than the gnarly old geezer's bar) - that way your daughter might be able to maintain a connection with what she saw go past and the race on the telly (with you commentating her through the final stages like the amazing father that you are). And if that doesn't work out, she can hang out with some unsuitable French 7 year old boys and have a crush she'll remember for the rest of her life - either way, you come out of it being a top dad. Also, like you say, the publicité folk are particularly adept at spotting the nippers and sling them sh!tloads of useless censored .

    The other alternative might actually be to go straight to Tours and mooch around near the team vehicles, but with 2 babies, that might be ambitious.

    Hillsides are usually a good bet and stretches of road where you can see quite a way down can be good too (you get the whole cavalcade thing for ages then it goes quiet, then there's a smattering of police bikes and marshals then it goes quiet again...then the helicopters appear... I get over-excited at this point... then the inevitable break will steam past like the hunted fools that they are, followed by the bunch); as long as you can then readily decamp into a bar.
    The best advice (but the most risky - without knowing you) is actually to use your instinct.
    Good luck.

    *reminding me of one morning when I came downstairs as a 4 year old to find my dad and some of his naughty mates still up: when I remarked at how impressed I was at how early they had all got up, apparently Big Dave and Irish Mick started welling up at the unbridled innocence...
  • Going to a 'high density' area might get you a bag of Haribos but it will be uncomfortable for young kids. Waiting for two hours watching cars go by is not that gripping for them . Best might be to wait for the specific route - pick a village on the route that might be on the Villes Fleurie list and perhaps have a proper lunch on a terrace and just absorb the village approach. Less hassle and more 'traditional'. And I'm sure the caravan will smile on you !

    Having said that I took mine to a stage finish in the Vuelta in Malaga once (age11, 7 and 4) and the 7 yr old boy got pushed forward out the crowd to the stage winner Cipollini who gave him a hug , ruffled his hair and put a signed cap on it !! It was chaos but a moment he remembers.
  • and don't forget to buy a few little bags of haribo, some cycling caps,2 x actimal yogurts, a gimmiky bottle opener and a sample of washing powder

    That way when the caravan is chucking and everyone is hunting the treasure you can out of sight pull out the goodies and return the hero :)
  • What type of stage is the one you have in mind? Pan-flat sprinters delight, or rolling? If the latter, try to find a village on a hill. I'd agree with finding a nice little village for lunch and to enjoy the build up and the excitement as the locals wait for the race to come through. Recce where you want to watch it in the village when it comes through, and then get to a family-friendly bar with a TV screen after lunch - some will have set up another screen outside the bar so that customers can watch the race progress from tables and chairs out front.

    Tip for the caravan freebies: French adults take no prisoners when it comes to scrabbling and fighting for the tat being chucked from the caravan so get your elbows to the ready! The caravan is huge and the time it takes to go through means lots of tat for everyone, so no need to worry that your kids will miss out :)

    Sure you and family will have a great time - its a great experience
  • My own preference is out in the countryside away from towns and villages as the crowds are less dense or virtually non-existent. A short distance before or after a corner is good as well as after a short climb as the caravan and riders are more spaced out and travelling slower, better for photos and freebies respectively.

    Having somewhere to go to catch the end of the stage is also worth thinking about. In the past I've always found a campsite near the stage, ride to it then back to the campsite to catch the finish on Eurosport in the cafe bar. Whilst you might be driving rather than cycling to the stage with the kids, having somewhere to watch the stage close to where you're staying might be worthwhile in case the kids need entertaining or need a nap.
  • All great insights guys. Thinking the camp site will be about an hour away from where the tour passes through so will have to drive there.

    It's a largely flat stage so will rally have to do my homework to find any hills.

    Taking on board your feedback my thoughts are to find a sleepy little French town with a bar/restaurant so we have somewhere to watch it and feed the troops!

    Great point re stacking up on Haribos and coming back the hero.....but think my daughter may enjoy the caravan more than the bikes!

    Whilst being 6' 5" and 17st may have its drawbacks for cycling up hills - hopefully it should put me in a more favourable position to taking freebies off the French adults! :)

    Anyone any thoughts of holing out just after a feed zone?
    1 - They'll be going a little slower
    2 - Chance to grab a musette or two

    Thanks
  • ocdupalaisocdupalais Posts: 3,947
    and don't forget to buy a few little bags of haribo, some cycling caps,2 x actimal yogurts, a gimmiky bottle opener and a sample of washing powder

    That way when the caravan is chucking and everyone is hunting the treasure you can out of sight pull out the goodies and return the hero :)

    Why not develop this idea and win extra kudos from the family by also carrying a puppy/kitten - and a necklace for the wife if she's starting to get the hump.
    Wouldn't worry about the twins - they won't have a clue what's going on anyway...

    I can feel a Viz-style Top Tour Tips Thread comIng on...
  • OCDuPalais wrote:
    Why not develop this idea and win extra kudos from the family by also carrying a puppy/kitten - and a necklace for the wife if she's starting to get the hump.
    Wouldn't worry about the twins - they won't have a clue what's going on anyway...

    I can feel a Viz-style Top Tour Tips Thread comIng on...

    You had to ruin it - starting off all sincere on your first post!! :lol:

    Maybe as a treat for Dad for taking the whole family I should get myself a £50,000 camper van and Pinarello Dogma or a Trek Madone!
  • jonbob78 wrote:
    OCDuPalais wrote:
    Why not develop this idea and win extra kudos from the family by also carrying a puppy/kitten - and a necklace for the wife if she's starting to get the hump.
    Wouldn't worry about the twins - they won't have a clue what's going on anyway...

    I can feel a Viz-style Top Tour Tips Thread comIng on...

    You had to ruin it - starting off all sincere on your first post!! :lol:

    Maybe as a treat for Dad for taking the whole family I should get myself a £50,000 camper van and Pinarello Dogma or a Trek Madone!


    Do it! Cos its a massive sacrifice, this Tour-spectating lark :wink:
  • mike6mike6 Posts: 1,199
    It really is a great event to see from the side of the road.
    We were at a start village for one of this years stages. Samatan, in the Gers, was great, If you are a die hard fan. There is a lot of standing around for the depart, but you do get to see the teams line up at the start. The down side? Its a long wait for kids and the crowds are huge.

    Four years ago we took in a mountain stage, not the finish but mid stage. I loved the whole day, but then again I am cycling nut.
    Get there early, you have to as they close the narrow mountain roads well before the race arrives.
    Take lots of food, drinks and parasols, to keep off the predictable sun.
    You get more for your free day as the caravan comes through well before the riders. Plenty there for the kids sa they chuck out more on the climbs.
    Hopefully there will be a breakaway you can cheer, then....helicopter, Police motor bikes, tv bikes, mayhem as the peloton comes past. They are going more slowly on the big climbs so you can pick out individual riders.

    If you are lucky, as we were, the "Devil" may be on the mountain, with all the malarky that goes on around him. I was lucky enough to get a photo with him, Nice guy.
  • And here's how it will look from an 18 month old's point of view! :D

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v_Dn4ox7WtA
  • Done it a few times for the Tour, and more recently the Vuelta.

    There's a lot to be said for stage starts and finishes. Also means you're in a town where accommodation options, food etc might be better. Also the town will often put things on for families and kids. At starts in particular you can see the riders chatting, signing in etc.

    Time trials offer steady viewing but many might find it can get a bit boring. No 'rush' of them passing by in the peloton.

    Mountains are obviously going to be good - field breaks up, riders going a bit slower etc - but get ready for road closures, hassle parking the car, crowds, all of that.

    I agree with a point above about a quiet spot mid country. You know the ones - when the helicopter is going over some dull bit of road on a flattish stage and there's a family or two in the middle of it having a picnic. Downsides are the peloton will be pass en masse, and fast. But you'll have seen the Tour!

    Enjoy
    Paul
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