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Take on the cols of the Tour de France on your summer camping holiday

Mont Ventoux

Feel up to taking on a section of the most popular cycling race in the world? Combine cycling with a family holiday by booking a campsite on the route of this year’s or a previous year’s Tour de France.

Each year, the Tour de France takes in about 3000 kms over 3.5 weeks, across 21 stages. Revered mountain stages are interspersed with sprint stages on generally flatter terrain, as well as individual time trial stages. All make for exciting watching, and great riding. The Tour de France route changes each year, giving you lots of scope for choosing a great family camping holiday destination nearby stages of the current year’s race or of previous years.

You can find our selection of campsites near the Tour de France (2022) route here.

The course may change yearly, but one thing is always the same: the race winds its way through some stunning regions which make for ideal holiday destinations. And you’ll find a host of campsites nearby.

A good place to start would be to choose TDF stages or climbs that take your fancy and then explore the campsite options near these. Wherever you choose, there will be lots to see and do for all the family on the days you don’t don the lycra.

Combine a camping holiday with climbs on the last Tour de France route

The 2021 Tour de France is still fresh in our minds, so we’ve looked first at some some of the stages of last year’s race.

Tadej Pogačar made them look easy, so let’s start with a couple of the hardest climbs which featured in the 2021 TDF:

  • The queen stage of the 2021 Tour de France was in the Pyrenees, coming over the top of the 2400m Port d’Envalira to a finish in Andorra. Think you’ve got a climb of about 30km at around 5 per cent, to the highest point of the 2021 TDF, in your legs? Of course you have.
  • Stage 17 of the 2021 race, meanwhile, took in the Col de Peyresourde, the Col de Val Louron-Azet and the Col du Portet, all demanding ascents to Pyreneean mountain passes with quite different profiles. Tempting to book a holiday near here, as you could feast your eyes on the views from three stunning mountain passes for the price of one.

All of these climbs are in the French Pyrenees, so if you fancy hitting them up this summer, then enter the southern, mountainous areas of Hautes-Pyrénées, Ariege or Pyrenées Orientales into the search bar to find a nearby campsite.

All these areas are stunning. You’ll find campsites in the Pyrenées Orientales in particular to be a real people-pleaser, with beautiful sandy beaches and interesting seaside towns to explore, as well as proximity to the mountains. But its campsites will be busier, so you might just find your family’s happy place a bit higher up in the mountains in one of the neighbouring departments.

Mont Ventoux

This infamous mountain in Provence, with its strange barren landscape, is certainly no stranger to the TDF. Lots of the best-known names in cycling like Raymond Poulidor, Eddy Merckx and Marco Pantani have won stages up it, but you might remember it best from Chris Froome – in the yellow jersey – having to run part of the way up, after a crash, in 2016.

There are three different possible climbs up Mont Ventoux, whose summit is just under 2000m. This makes it a a great choice for a family holiday, as you could do three shorter outings taking in a different route each time. The ascents range from about 15 to 25 kms in distance and average between 5 and 9 per cent, to reach the.

There are lots of great things to see and do with the family nearby too, including visiting the fabulous walled city of Avignon and the fabled wine town of Chateau-Neuf-du-Pape. Browse campsites in Vaucluse.

Col du Galibier

This is the most-frequented Alpine col in the history of the Tour de France and probably the highest, at over 2600m. The incredible view from the top takes in glaciers, Mont Blanc and many other stunning sights. But for this reward you’ll need to put in 18kms at almost 7 per cent. Tempted? Check out campsites in Savoie.

If you are considering it, you could have a look at our article about camping in the Alps too.

Col du Tourmalet

Back to the Pyrenees, this is another climb that pops up a lot of the Tour de France, with its summit being at just over 2000m. There are two possible climbs, both averaging around 7 per cent for a little under 20kms. The panoramic view from the summit makes the climb well worthwhile, by all accounts. A bonus is that certain parts of the route were resurfaced in 2021, so you may be treated to some sections on nice new tarmac.

Discover the beauty of the French countryside… and close your holiday with a bang, watching the race itself in the capital

Discover regional France

The 21 stages of the Tour de France weave through small villages and towns, beautiful French countryside and mountain passes. Although challenging yourself to cycle sections of the Tour de France route may be the intention of your trip, you should also make the time for some sightseeing. From pre-historic caves to charming villages, there are plenty of local attractions to discover. Visit the village markets for fresh, local fruit and vegetable snacks and lunch on the plat du jour at village bistros to get a sense of local life.

Enjoy spectacular views

From watching the Tour de France on television, you will have seen the breath-taking landscapes that the riders pass through. Dramatic winding roads with infinite hairpin bends, climbs and descents up precipitous peaks and down the deep valleys of the Alps and Pyrenees spring immediately to mind. If you book a campsite on the route, the whole family will get to enjoy these spectacular views, while you also get to imagine yourself riding the climbs with the peloton.

At the end, toast the winners (and yourself!) on the Champs-Élysées

The final stage of the Tour de France always takes place on the Champs-Élysées in Paris and you could consider ending your holiday with a few days at a campsite near Paris too. The final stage starts outside the city before the riders race at full speed over the cobblestones, a sight which will delight all the family. Although the crowds will be dense, try to find a place to watch the finish along the Champs-Élysées or near the Arc de Triomphe. Toast the winners and your own efforts and enjoy the electric atmosphere.


Tips for a Tour de France-themed camping holiday
 

Book your accommodation early

A major advantage of focusing on the route of a previous year’s race is that accommodation will be easier to come by. Once the route for the year has been announced, many campsites along the current year’s Tour de France route book out straight away, often the year before, leaving choice a lot more limited. By planning around a previous year’s route, you are more likely to find accommodation located near the route and with exactly the criteria you and your family want, so you won’t have to bike or drive too far. But if you have decided on a location that you definitely want, we would always recommend booking early anyway.

Get your family excited about cycling too

While you may be doing the longer rides by yourself, make sure to bring your flat pedals so you can plan a few more relaxed days of cycling with all the family. Share your excitement about doing a few kilometres of the route ridden by the pros in this hugely exciting race with them! Many campsites rent bikes for these sort of relaxed family cycles, so you might not need to bring everyone’s bike with you.

FAQ: Camping and cycling the Tour de France route

Plan a camping trip around cycling stages of the most prestigious bike race in the world.

How do I find campsites near the Tour de France route?

At Campsited, we have created a selection of campsites near the 2022 Tour de France route. Kill three birds with one stone: use this list to book a French campsite to enjoy a lovely family holiday, get to watch the most exciting cycling race in the world preceded by its marvelous ‘caravan’ of floats en famille AND get to cycle some of the race route yourself during the same trip.

What kind of accommodation and facilities are available?

A wide range of campsites set in beautiful natural surroundings can be found near the Tour de France route. You’ll find pitches for tents, caravans, and motorhomes, alongside rentals such as bungalows, mobile homes, glamping tents. Campsite facilities usually include onsite restaurants, bars and minimarkets, as well as Wi-Fi access, swimming pools and playgrounds. The kids won’t even miss you when you sneak off for a couple of hours on your bike.

What do I need to bring with me?

For cycling in the summer in France, you need sun block and UV protective clothing (not mesh material, which you can get burnt though). Sunglasses and perhaps a peaked cap under your helmet are also essentials. You will be happy of an extra bottle cage on your bike and ideally larger-sized water bottles. And even if you don’t normally use them, a couple of re-hydration gels in your pocket would be good, in case the heat and hills take their toll.

Book a campsite on the 2022 Tour de France route here.

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