The 111th Tour de France is about to feature some key changes as the iconic cycling race will start in Florence, Italy on June 29th and will end for the first time ever in Nice on July 21st. Traditionally, the race finishes on The Champs-Elysee, but due to the Olympic and Paralympic Games taking place in Paris, it was decided that the finish line for this year’s race will be at the Cote d’Azur, also known as The French Riviera.

This major change is likely to throw off some avid Tour de France fans, but for others, the new route enables them to see the race in a new light amidst some of the most stunning nature views in Europe. If you’re planning to watch the Tour de France in person, here’s everything you need to know to make the most of your live viewing experience. 

Book Your Accommodations and Get the Right Vehicle

The Tour de France is one of the most popular sporting events in the world,  so expect that the places where the start and finish lines are located will be crowded with tourists, news crews, and race teams throughout the entirety of the race. To make sure that you have a place to stay, book your accommodations early, and book a hotel or Airbnb in Florence for June 29th or earlier, and another one in the Cote d’Azur at least 3 days before the end of the race. Doing so allows you to witness the beginning and the end of the event, which can be an emotional and exhilarating experience for first-time Tour de France watchers. 

You’ll also need to secure the right vehicle if you intend to watch some of the stages, which will take place in designated parts of Europe. If you’re residing in the continent, make sure to drive a vehicle that can handle urban and off-road driving conditions, such as a crossover. Apart from being more fuel-efficient than a typical SUV, it’s also lighter and faster, giving you a smooth ride as you make your way to all the stages. If you’re coming from outside Europe, plan on renting a vehicle, and see if you can rent a bicycle too so you can easily get around in case of road closures. 

Know the Route

The 2024 Tour de France route totals 3,492 kilometers, so you need to be familiar with it to see some of the best stages. Among the most popular ones are the mountain stages, and this year, the race will take place in 7 mountain ranges: Pinerolo to Valloire, Evaux-les-Bains to Le Lioran, Pau to Saint-Lary-Soulan Pla d’Adet, Loudenvielle to Plateau de Beille, Saint-Paul-Trois-Chateux to Superdevoluy, Embrun to Isola 2000, and Nice to Col de la Couillole. Get to these places early since traffic is expected to be heavy in these areas. Don’t forget to dress for the weather and bring a jacket, some gloves, and a knitted hat to stay warm since it can get cold in the mountains.

Matis Louvel climbing the road to Col du Tourmalet in Pyrenees mountains during stage 6 of the Tour de France 2023
Watching the Tour de France in person is an exhilarating experience. You feel the palpable energy and roar of the crowd as cyclists whizz by, showcasing incredible athleticism and strategy. Being close to the action lets you appreciate the stunning landscapes and festive atmosphere, making it much more than just a sporting event-it’s a vibrant cultural spectacle. Image: Matis Louvel climbing the road to Col du Tourmalet in the Pyrenees mountains during stage 6 of the Tour de France 2023. Source: Deposit Photos

Pack Some Food and Drinks

One rookie mistake that Tour de France newbies often make is forgetting to bring their own food and drinks to the stages. Most people assume that they can buy what they need from the groceries or supermarkets in the area, but these places often run out of supplies fairly quickly since so many people buy what they need before watching the race. Moreover, there’s no guarantee that you can find a cafe or a restaurant in certain places, and if there are any, you can expect them to be overly crowded. So, make sure to bring some snacks and drinks with you and stash them in your backpack. 

Don’t just pack some crisps or crackers though. You’ll want something filling, especially if you’ll be standing by the road or mountainside for hours. Think about stashing a few sandwiches, a couple of protein or energy bars, and some fruit in your bag. These foods are perfectly portable, and you won’t need utensils to eat them. Add a thermos of coffee or tea to warm you up, and a few bottles of water to stay hydrated.  

This year’s Tour de France is guaranteed to be quite a thrilling experience, so make sure to be prepared if you’re planning to watch it live. Consider these tips for a great viewing experience, and enjoy watching the race in person with other cycling fans.

Jane Sandwood

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