The 2022 edition of the world’s greatest cycling race is right around the corner! As always, the unbelievably scenic route will offer sweeping views of France’s landscapes and pit stops at wonderful places.
On July 1st, the Grand Départ will kick off in Copenhagen, and the 3328-kilometer tour will take riders up all along the eastern side of France via Denmark, Belgium and Switzerland. In the end, racers will have climbed through four distinct mountain ranges: the Vosges, the Alps, the Massif Central and the Pyrénées, before crossing the finish line in the sparkling City of Light (for the first time, the end will coincide with the start of the womens’ race, which will set off from Paris, heading east on its own course).
Although the race is a famously challenging and grueling undertaking, it used to be more so. It made its debut in 1903, and the first editions were an average distance of no less than 400 km (compared to the 160 km today); this meant competitors cycled both day and night. They also had to carry out their own repairs, if necessary – a far cry from today’s extensively equipped teams watching diligently behind-the-scenes.
The Tour de France has grown in both fame and magnitude since its humble beginnings, attracting talent far and wide (even racers who seem less than cycling experts). The first American champion came in 1986, when Greg Lemond beat reigning champ Laurent Fignon by the slimmest of margins in history: 8 seconds.
The Tour is a true spectator sport, and the media coverage and aerial shots of rolling countryside, charming châteaux, rocky mountains and hilltop villages are a fantastic way to admire France from afar; however, there is no denying that, as with all events, there is a thrill and enjoyment that cannot be experienced vicariously.
Whether you’ll be cheering in the crowds in France or simply armchair cruising, check out some of our favorite stops along the Tour de France below!
The race’s fifth stage will start in Lille, close to France’s frontier with Belgium. A student town with stunning architecture, this lively place is wonderful during the early days of summer, when students enjoy warm evenings and the end of a school year. Be sure to stroll through the wonderful cobbled streets of La Vieille Ville (the Old Town) to make the most of the city’s seemingly endless collection of bars serving strong Belgian beers, brimming with flavor. If you have more of a sweet tooth, head over to Maison Méert, France’s most beautiful sweet shop.
Stages 15 and 16 of the Tour de France end and start, respectably, in Carcassonne. This impressive town is known for its medieval fortress, La Cité, and is on the UNESCO List of World Heritage Sites. Stroll along its double walls and enjoy its history… there are plenty of myths and places to discover in this castle city. There are many wonderful restaurants to experience, here, so get on your walking shoes and be prepared to sample wines and the rich, hearty cuisine of the French southwest (possibly the most filling of our favorite stops along the Tour de France!).
The penultimate stage of the race will see the cyclists sprint to the top of a famous hill, on which is perched the charming village of Rocamadour. Tiny, sat on the edge of a cliff in the Causses du Quercy Regional Natural Park, this medieval city is filled with history and, with its altitude, unsurprisingly boasts magical views of the surrounding landscapes, by day or night. Make sure to try the regional cheeses, like Rocamadour AOC – an unpasteurized goat cheese famous around the world for its unique taste.
By no means the least, but in fact the last, stop on the Tour de France hardly needs our favorite label: Paris. The final sprint will take place on one of the most famous streets in the world, Les Champs-Élysées, this year – on July 24th. Trust us when we say that experiencing the French capital for the finality of the Tour is something that needs to be seen to be believed!