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Camping Le Tour de France

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The Tour de France is not only the biggest and most widely celebrated bicycle race in the world, but it's also an event for which the whole country is famous. This country spanning race makes use of the sunny August weather, bringing the entire nation to life, for 21 days of nail-biting moments, provided by the hard endurance of the athletes involved.

Last stage in Paris

Unfortunately, if you want to experience the Tour de France for yourself this year, you'll have to settle for sitting by the television. But in normal times you can see the race in full flow and get involved with the local festivities by choosing one of the campsites that put you near (or even on) the course. Here are a few places to camp if you want to catch the Tour de France.

Date - 29th August - Stage 1
Route - Nice Moyen Pays > Nice
Distance - 156km
Terrain - Flat

Date - 30th August - Stage 2
Route - Nice Haut Pays > Nice
Distance - 187km
Terrain - Mountain

Date - 31st August - Stage 3
Route - Nice > Sisteron
Distance - 198km
Terrain - Flat

Starting in Nice, the first two days of racing take place in and around this Mediterranean city. Camping la Camassade is a small site about 40 minutes outside the city, on the outskirts of the small town of Tourrettes-sur-Loup. Some early starts would be required to avoid the crowds heading into Nice, but escaping back to the small pool and shady pitches at the end of a long day could provide some welcome relief from the hustle and bustle of the city centre.

Date - 1st September - Stage 4
Route - Sisteron > Orcières-Merlette
Distance - 157km
Terrain - Hilly

Date - 2nd September - Stage 5
Route - Gap > Privas
Distance - 183km
Terrain - Flat

The town of Sisteron, on the banks of the River Durance, is where the racers will end up at the end of the third day of racing. Nearby Orpierre will be the perfect place to set up, waiting for the riders to arrive in the late afternoon.

Situated in the foothills of the Alps, Camping des Princes d'Orange is a rural destination, which will be full as the crowds gather to watch the cyclists head on to Orcières-Merlette on Day 4. The same site could be used for viewing the action on Day 5 when the riders head from Gap to Privas.

Date - 3rd September - Stage 6
Route - Le Teil > Mont Aigoual
Distance - 191km
Terrain - Hilly

This hilly stage from Le Teil to Mont Aigoual passes through the Ardeche, a region famous for its picturesque valleys and the area is set to be full of excitement with the passing racers. 

Camping Nature Parc l'Ardéchois, within walking distance of the renowned geology of Vallon-Pont-d'Arc is less than an hour away from the race route. A perfect spot to enjoy the beauty of the surrounding countryside, and to catch some of the action.

Date - 4th September - Stage 7
Route - Millau > Lavaur
Distance - 168km
Terrain - Flat

On day seven, the race starts in the town of Millau, famous for its high-level viaduct and ends in Lavaur, basically following the River Tarn downstream, with a detour via the historic city of Castres.

A day for the sprinters, the wind could be decisive in today's result. Camping du Viaduc is perfect for catching the action at the start of the day. If you prefer to head for the sprint finish, head to Camping le Plan d'Eau Saint Charles, just 20-minute drive Southeast of Lavaur.

Date - 5th September - Stage 8
Route - Cazères-sur-Garonne > Loudenvielle
Distance - 140km
Terrain - Mountain

Ideally situated for today's finish, the first in the Pyrenees, Camping la Vacance Pène Blanche is spacious and well kept, in an idyllic location.

The famous Col de Peyresourde is around 10km away from Camping la Vacance Pène Blanche and the finish and might provide a win for a strong downhiller.

Date - 6th September - Stage 9
Route - Pau > Laruns
Distance - 154km
Terrain - Mountain

The secluded little tourist town of Laruns hosts today's finish. At the end of today, the riders will have spent their 7th day above 1500m and will be looking forward to the 1st rest day tomorrow.

Camping des Gaves is a small site, so booking is essential. There is a river running alongside the site and dramatic views of the mountains. Only 30km from the border with Spain, this really is the heart of the Pyrenees.

Date - 7th September - Rest Day

Use today to recharge your batteries and take the long journey up to the Île d'Oléron. Most of the riders will be flying, but expect lots of race traffic on the road as the caravan heads North to the Charente-Maritime region.

Date - 8th September - Stage 10
Route - Île d'Oléron> Île d'Ré
Distance - 170km
Terrain - Flat

Oléron les Pins is the perfect place to catch the race as it leaves the Île d'Oléron and loops North to the Île de Ré. Situated amongst gorgeous pine forest, near to the lovely Gatseau Beach, this site is close to the start at Le Château-d'Oléron. Expect access to and from the island to be limited on race day and head out early if you're hoping to catch the action on the mainland.

If you want to catch the riders at the finish line, head for Les Amis de la Plage, a lovely beachside campsite with direct access to the dunes and the sea beyond. 

Date - 9th September - Stage 11
Route - Châtelaillon-Plage > Poitiers
Distance - 167km
Terrain - Flat

Today the race heads inland from Châtelaillon-Plage to Poitiers, making Camping le Martin Pêcheur on the edge of the Marais Poitevin an ideal base to catch today's progress.

The Marais is a picturesque landscape with grassy marshlands, canals and diverse wildlife. This is another day for the sprinters with a bunch finish expected.

Date - 10th September - Stage 12
Route - Chauvigny > Sarran Corrèze
Distance - 218km
Terrain - Hilly

Stage 12 is the longest days racing, at just under 220km long. This hilly stage takes in the roads of the Haute-Vienne and Corrèze regions.

The Suc au May, towards the end of the day could be the ideal jump-off for a strong breakaway rider. Flower Camping la Plage is a pleasant lake-side campsite with views across the Vézère.

Date - 11th September - Stage 13
Route - Châtel-Guyon > Puy Mary Cantal
Distance - 191km
Terrain - Mountain

Today's mountainous stage passes through the heart of the Massif Central and the Auvergne volcanic park. Featuring over 4400m of climbing this stage has the most significant elevation gain of this years edition of Le Tour.

Huttopia Royat is located on the outskirts of Clermont-Ferrand and could be used as a base for stages 13 and 14. The pitches are arranged informally in small groups, and the site is ideally located for the Vulcania theme park, just 10 minutes drive away if you want to take a break from the racing.

Date - 12th September - Stage 14
Route - Clermont-Ferrand > Lyon
Distance - 197km
Terrain - Flat

Three sharp, little climbs feature towards the end of today's 'flat' stage which may see a breakaway specialist reign supreme.

If you're staying at Huttopia Royat, you're not going to want to move just yet, as you're in a great position to catch the cyclists depart Clermont-Ferrand. Alternatively, you could catch the finish from Camping les Portes du Beaujolais, a quick half an hour drive North of Lyon and a useful location for the finish of stage 14 and the start of stage 15. 

Date - 13th September - Stage 15
Route - Lyon > Grand Colombier
Distance - 175km
Terrain - Mountain

The 17km climb to the top of the Col du Grand Colombier is the finishing point for stage 15, and the riders will be looking forward to the second rest day tomorrow. By the time they reach the finish they will have already tackled the Col de la Biche and Montee de la Selle de Fromentel, both with gradients over 8%.

Camping le Vaugrais is located near the foot of the dramatic Cascade de Cerveyrieu. If you're feeling strong, the summit of Grand Colombier is around 2.5 hours cycle away.

Date - 14th September - Rest Day

The riders will be based in the Isère region for the 2nd rest day, and you could base yourself at Camping Lac du Marandan. About an hour south of La Tour-du-Pin, the start point of tomorrow's stage, the site is perfectly located for either the start or the finish of the stage at Villard-de-Lans and could be the perfect spot to catch the race a couple of times throughout the day.

The site has direct access to an inviting lake and could be a perfect location to relax and take a break from the action.

Date - 15th September - Stage 16
Route - La Tour-du-Pin > Villard-de-Lans
Distance - 164km
Terrain - Mountain

Today's stage passes through the Chartreuse region; located close to the start in La Tour-du-pin, Camping le Coin Tranquille is well placed for the départ réel of the 16th stage.

The rural nature of this site along with magnificent views across to the mountains make a stay on this site popular around race day. With five peaks to tackle throughout the day, there are ample opportunities to get up close to the riders.

Date - 16th September - Stage 17
Route - Grenoble > Méribel Col de la Loze
Distance - 168km
Terrain - Mountain

The stage today tackles the Col de la Madeleine before finishing on the Col de la Loze outside the ski resort of Méribel. Camping les Lanchettes makes an excellent base for both today's stage and for tomorrows stage from Méribel to La Roche-sur-Foron. It's around an hour and a half from the campsite to the top of Col de la Loze or 2 hours to the Col de la Madeleine. 

Remember that road closures will be in place, and extra traffic will push these travel times up, leave the site early to get the best spots and soak up the atmosphere on a potential tour defining stage.

Date - 17th September - Stage 18
Route - Méribel > La Roche-sur-Foron
Distance - 168km
Terrain - Mountain

By the time the riders pass Camping l'Escale, they will have tackled 3 'Hors catégorie' peaks on their way to today's finish in La Roche-sur-Foron, including the formidable Cormet de Roselend. This site is just off the race route and is situated at the foot of the Aravis mountain range. This is a popular campsite, set beside the picture-postcard ski resort of Le Grand-Bornand, so booking well in advance is essential.

- 18th September - Stage 19
Route - Bourg-en-Bresse > Champagnole
Distance - 160km
Terrain - Flat

Two days before the end of racing and it's still all to play for. This flat stage is one for those brave sprinters who have survived the mountain in the Pyrenees, Massif Central and finally the Alpes. Camping Sous Doriat is a delightfull little site about 15 minutes drive (or an hour by bike) outside Champagnole. Perfect for catching that photo finish.

Date - 19th September - Stage 20
Route - Lure > La Planche des Belles Filles
Distance - 36km
Terrain - ITT

For many, it's the last true day of racing, so finding anywhere to camp will be difficult, to say the least. However, Camping l'Etang des Forges, about an hour from La Planches des Belles Filles is going to be your best bet. Located just north of Belfort, this lake-side campsite is in a region that's not usually considered a tourist hotspot, but is sure to be packed with people as the race comes closer to the end.

The individual time trial (ITT) is a great way to see all the racers as they come through one by one throughout the afternoon. The iconic Planches des Belles Filles will no doubt be packed with spectators, to see who will be crowned the overall winner of the 107th Edition of L'Hexagone.

Date - 20th September - Stage 21
Route - Mantes-la-Jolie > Paris Champs-Élysées
Distance - 122km
Terrain - Flat

The final stage is traditionally a procession to the finish line, with the yellow and polka dot jerseys having already been decided for the winner of the overall and mountain competitions respectively. The exception to this is the sprinters who will be fighting it out for the honour of finishing first on the Champs-Élysées and possibly winning the green jersey.

Camping l'Ile des Trois Rois can be found just over an hour away from Paris, beneath the remains of the gorgeous Chateau Gaillard. Take the pressure off your final day and take the train into central Paris from the nearby station of Val-de-Reuil. The train ride is about 1 hour 15 minutes, and the last train back leaves about 10 pm, so you can absorb all the days racing before heading back to the site. 

Catch up with the Tour de France

While current travel restrictions mean that we can't visit the sites this year, the camps included are worth a visit all year round (within opening dates). The official UK broadcaster of the Tour de France is ITV (S4C in Wales) so make sure you tune in this weekend. You can also follow all the action on Twitter by following ITV Cycling.

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