The timing of our Switzerland trip worked out so that we could see Stage 17 of the Tour de France as it was taking a ‘de-tour’ through Switzerland! Amazingly I found cheap lodging near the route so our scheming began.
Every Tour stage has 2 parts: the caravan and the actual race. The caravan parade consists of floats or vans with the sponsor’s crazy attention-grabbing design. Little treats are tossed from the floats to the people along the route to catch as a souvenir of the day. Then there is the actual race. We were going to watch Stage 17-Bern to Finhaut/Emosson- as it passed through the village of Aigle.
We decided to watch the parade in Bex close to our lodging and were next to a roundabout so the parade had to slow down there.
The sun was blazing while we waited but eventually the trickle of official Tour cars began to speed by.
I got a pretty good stash!
Now we had to wait about 2 hours for the actual riders to arrive… and for complicated reasons we had to watch it in Aigle. So we hopped on the next train for a short ride to Aigle which involved some waiting and unfortunately we almost missed the actual tour riders as they passed through town! As we were walking the short distance from the train to the route, I heard cheering so I started running! And by the time I got there had missed the breakaway! (The breakaway is the lead group or rider who is attempting to get way ahead of the pack or peloton) Dang it! Ah well. The peloton was still about 12 minutes behind so we got a good spot to watch on a curving narrow part of the route. And here came the peloton! Cool!!!!
They sped by- not sure if Chris Froome, the yellow jersey wearer, was in the mix but it was very cool anyway. Once all the trailing riders and support vehicles went past, we walked through Aigle, a beautiful town and saw how you really watch the Tour!
You get a beer and watch it on the big screen in the town square before and after they pass by!
So here are a few Tour pointers: 1. Check the town website where you will be watching the Tour. Aigle had a schedule for when the parade would be passing and then when the actual riders would pass. And this website had the best information overall.
2. Try to position yourself on a uphill or flat section or near a corner or roundabout. On the downhill the riders will fly by super fast (not just regular fast.)
3. Roads will be closed probably half the day of the race to don’t plan on driving or riding the bus last minute to watch it unless you’ve done your research. Buses will have restricted schedules too so don’t depend on them. There were lots of spectators that had biked to the site which is a great idea if you are able to do that.
4. I would recommend trying to watch at least 2 stages of the Tour. This was our first time seeing it live, so I was obsessed with taking pictures and I couldn’t really watch it.
What’s your Tour experience? Got any good tips?