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The starting shot for the most famous cycling race in the world will shortly be fired and 2015 promises to be a special edition of Tour de France. On 4 July 2015, the race will start in the Netherlands for the 6th time in the history of the Tour de France. In addition to Utrecht and Zeeland in the Netherlands, riders will race through Belgium, Northern France, Normandy, the Pyrenees, the Ardèche and of course the French Alps.
It really is a treat to experience the event in real life: the picnics by the side of the road, the excited fans and the lavish advertising convoy that precedes the cyclists. But where is the best spot to watch from? The finish in Paris is of course spectacular, but it gets very busy along the Champs-Élysées. There are plenty of other beautiful tour stages in the French countryside and in the mountains. See an overview of the 5 top spots to experience the excitement of the Tour de France 2015.
The 7th stage of the Tour begins in Livarot and rides through the charming hedge landscape of Pays d’Auge, a region packed with timber homes, apple trees and brown and white spotted cows. Watch the cyclists race along the D511 as they head towards Fougères in Bretagne, 190 kilometres away. A visit to this part of Normandy is also the perfect occasion to pick up a bottle of Calvados and some famous blue cheese from Livarot. This rather pungent but delicious cheese is best eaten quickly.
14140 Livarot, France
After a day of rest in Pau, the tour continues with its 10th stage in Tarbes, in the department Hautes-Pyrénées. The date alone will make this an unforgettable Tour day: it is Quatorze Juillet, France’s national holiday. Expect fireworks in the air and hopefully on the road as well. This is also the first day that the Tour riders begin their climb, in particular on the spectacular hills of Col de Soudet in the Pyrenees. The foothills of these mountains offer a photogenic spot along the beautiful D918 from where you can cheer on the riders.
65000 Tarbes, France
Also in the South of France, not far from Tarbes, lies the lovely town of Lannemezan. This rural village with 6,000 residents is tiny and is thrilled to be hosting a tour stage of the Tour de France for the 5th time. Perched on a hill, Lannemezan offers a beautiful view of the region and its compact centre exudes an authentic southern French ambiance. This is a great spot to experience the start of the 12th stage of the Tour, as cyclists start off in a gently rolling landscape, full of poppies and hay bales, before gearing up for a challenging final climb on the Plateau de Beille in de Pyrenees.
65300 Lannemezan, France
Three days later the riders cross the northern part of the Ardèche, on the 15th stage from Mende to Valence. This will provide some beautiful tour moments in the green mountain landscape around Aubenas, a town with a beautiful historic city centre. The race will also ride trough charming villages such as Flaviac and Jaujac, beautifully located along a small river. This stage is a wonderful excuse to explore this relatively unknown quiet part of the Ardèche, where chestnut trees, herds of sheep and charming villages dot the landscape.
07200 Aubenas, France
The most spectacular stage of the Tour de France is a must as cyclists brave 21 hairpin bends with an average grade of 8.1 percent. A ride indeed of mythical proportions. This climb always draws huge crowds and many have a favourite spot, or rather, a favourite bend! Spirits are high and the surroundings beautiful, amidst green hillsides and views of snow-capped peaks.
38750 Huez, France