9 beautiful stops on the 2020 Tour de France route

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Tour de France 2019, à Albi
© Pauline BALLET - Tour de France 2019, à Albi

Reading time: 0 minPublished on 29 November 2023, updated on 15 April 2024

Postponed until August 29, the Tour de France kicks off its 3,470 kilometer (2156 mile), 21 stage loop in Nice, the capital of the Côte d'Azur, finishing on Paris' Champs Elysées on September 20. From Provence to Auvergne, the Alps to the Pyrenees, from Lyon to Occitanie, the Tour de France cyclists compete against the backdrop of some of the loveliest scenery in France. Break away from the pack with us and put pedal to the metal to discover the treasures of these French regions. On your mark, get set, go!

Nice, a beautiful starting line for the Tour de France 2020

The world's favorite bike race begins where the blue of the sky meets the blue of the Côte d'Azur: the Bay des Anges is the the background and the Promenade des Anglais is the route. From Nice, the cyclists will loop three times around the countryside, crossing 156 km (97 miles) at full speed. This leaves spectators plenty of time to wander through the picturesque alleys of Old Nice, or explore one of the cliffside villages high above the Côte d’Azur.

Heading to Sisteron on the route Napoleon on the Tour de France

On to the third stage: heading to Sisteron, in Provence, from Nice, the cyclists' journey is scented with the aromas of Grasse, the city of perfume. You absolutely must visit the Musée International de la Parfumerie before checking out the legendary Route Napoleon, the route the emperor took on his return from Elba. Snaking through gorges, forests, and small Provençal villages, it's a view so pretty (and so Provence) it might make the racers forget about the Tour. Certainly, it takes their breath away, from the moment they arrive at Sisteron and they see the citadel perched above the Durance.

From Gap to Privas, crossing Provence

Beautiful Gap, the fortified medieval city, passes as the lovely capital of the Southern Alps. The fifth stage of the race flits through the olive orchards and fragrant lavender fields. From one side, you spy a Provençal market. Further down, a charming arbor to catch your breath. Before you know it, you've reached Montélimar, the gate of Provence and the kingdom of nougat. Privas, capital of the Ardèche, is just 30 kilometers (18 miles) away. Take your time here; the green city provides a warm welcome to wanderers, on bike or on foot.

- Prepare your trip to Provence

From Pau to Lauruns, the foothills of the Pyrenees

In the foothills of the Pyrenees, Pau is a royal stage. In this lovely mountain town where King Henry IV was born in a turtle shell, according to tradition. The delicate château is the perfect spot to visit before heading up the mountain. For the cyclists, this part of the race is a veritable up-and-down dance to gain moment in the mountain passes. Luckily, non-racers can loop through France's southern mountains more tranquilly, between cirques and green alpine pastures. In the Ossau Valley, just a few kilometers from Pau, the mountains reign surpeme.

In Auvergne, climb volcanoes

The 13th stage of the Tour de France 2020 transverses the Massif Central in Auvergne, climbing the summit of Puy Mary. This volcano, a vestige of the largest strato-volcano in Europe, will surely take your breath away. Every inch of this 1,783 m (5849 ft) sleeping giant is classified as a Grand Site de France (Great Site of France). From the height of this verdant pyramid, the views are exceptionnal—all the way to the Alps' Mont Blanc, on a clear day!

- Prepare your trip to Auvergne

Lyon's bouchons are the perfect stop

While the Tour de France cyclists are known for their good speed, they'd be forgiven for rubbernecking a bit in Lyon's bouchons, the traditional bistros of this foodie city. As the capital of French gastronomy, Lyon is home to scores of their unique bouchons, haute cuisine spots, and the newly-opened Cité de la Gastronomie. Many of these serve local delicacies, so the cyclists will have a true lyonnais feast to look forward to when they reach the foot of the Croix Rousse! After spotting the athletes, duck into the famed spinners' traboules and secret passageways (stone towers leftover from Lyon's silk-spinning past), charming squares and picturesque alleyways.

Climbing the Alps

From Grenoble, the capital city of the Alps, the peaks are an embarassment of riches. Before reaching Paris, the Tour de France 2020 hits up Méribel, in the heart of the region of 3 valleys, to experience high-altitude beauty. The 17th and 18th stages in the mountains make cyclists' and spectators' pulses climb as high as the mountains, but, the Alps offer more than enough relaxation hubs to bring it back down. Who will win the maillot jaune (yellow jersey)? Find out on the Champs- Elysées podium in Paris on September 20!

- Prepare your trip to the Alps - Read more about Savoie Mont Blanc

Champs-Elysées: the finish line

And just like that, we're in Paris. When they spot the sprawl of the capital and the wide boulevard of the Champs-Elysées, the Tour de France competitors always feel a tingle of excitement as the finish line races towards them. Cheers and applause await as the cyclists whizz between Paris' prestigious monuments and landmarks. Of course, you can visit those too!

BOUTON CLICK

And don't forget, have a chance to win a trip to the Tour de France arrival in Paris next year in 2021 by participating to our competition, ends 30. September 2020!

More info here.

Tour de France 2020

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