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.
- Prepare your visit along the Route Napoleon with Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur Tourism
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.
Did you know that the Millau viaduct, spanning the Tarn valley at 460 m, holds the world record for height? With a peak at 343 m (1125 feet), it exceeds the Eiffel Tower's reaches! In Occitanie, cyclists have to combat any sensastions of vertigo passing along this sleek modern bridge. For visitors, the viaduct offers a guided tour of the interior called the Sentier des Explorateurs (the Explorer's Path). You can also paddle below the viaduct in canoe!
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!
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 July 19!
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!