Are you a cycling buff? Do you like exploring breathtaking locations in your motorhome? If you answered yes to both those questions, then you need to follow the spectacle that is the Tour de France!
This incredible, historic road race is not only one of the most exciting events on the sporting calendar, but also takes place in one of the most beautiful countries in the world.
In fact, France recently welcomed more visitors than anywhere else according to a UN World Tourism Organization study.
From the countryside to the mountains to the city, this race has it all, and by following the peloton’s progress, you’ll be able to tick off many magical sites from your must-see list – from the Pyrenees to the Champs Élysées.
If you’ve never driven in France before, take some time to familiarise yourself with the rules and regulations for motorhome owners.
Before you head across the Channel, don’t forget to arrange that all-important piece of the equation: insurance for motorhomes. Getting the right kind of cover means you can get on with your French adventure knowing you're protected in case the unexpected happens.
Make sure to follow up-to-date government guidelines on travel and avoid travel if restrictions advise this due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A bit of cycling history
By far the largest and most prestigious men’s cycling race in the world, the Tour de France has taken place annually since 1903, only stopping for the Spanish flu pandemic and both World Wars.
Indeed, even the recent COVID-19 pandemic only saw the event postponed until August 2020. The 22-year-old Slovenian cyclist Tadej Pogačar won the 2020 Tour overall, making him the second youngest winner after Henri Cornet in 1904.
The legendary cycling event has had more than its fair share of controversy and tragedy over the years. But it’s always been the place where the finest competitors come to show off their grit and determination, riding the latest technical marvels bike manufacturers have to offer.
Whether you’re a cycling nerd able to talk for hours on the latest brake tech or just want a great excuse to explore the stunning French countryside, then you won’t be disappointed with a trip to Le Tour!
Exploring France en route
If you’re hoping to follow the Tour De France then be aware it changes every year so you’ll need to wait for the official route guide to be published before finalising your plans. However, the format of the race itself always stays the same.
You’ll experience time trials, the tortuous but beautiful passage through the mountain chains of the Pyrenees and the Alps, and the exciting finish on the Champs Élysées in Paris.
The race alternates between clockwise and counter-clockwise circuits of France and does regularly begin in other European countries.
Indeed, in 2021, the Tour was due to begin in Denmark’s capital Copenhagen for the first time in its history. However, with COVID-19 and other sporting calendar clashes, the Grand Départ has now been changed to Brest in Brittany.
Four all-Brittany stages will therefore be on the programme for the Tour. So, 2021 will be the perfect time to explore Brittany’s Armor coastal region and its inland Argoat territories.
In recent years the Tour de France has settled into a routine of 21 day-long stages over a 23-day period with cyclists covering around 2,200 miles. A truly jaw-dropping effort from the competitors and supporters but also plenty of time for you to explore and get involved in the life of the Tour.
From Provence to Auvergne and the Alps to the Pyrenees, anyone following the Tour de France will do so against the backdrop of some of the finest landscapes in the country.
As well as photogenic locations there are so many historical and cultural treasures to discover on this French road trip, not to mention the wine, cheese, bread and croissants!
Whatever you do, don’t miss watching at least one of the mountain stages. These are very popular for a reason, especially the signature climbs like Alpes-D’Huez, Ventoux and Tourmalet. Get there early before the police close the roads and you can look forward to a unique spectacle.
Make sure you stock up with food and water before your trip. Some of the smaller French villages only serve food at certain times of the day, and it might take you a long time to descend after a mountain stage given the high number of spectators that will be up there with you. Also remember to protect yourself from accidental damage and theft with motorhome insurance.
One of the best things about travelling in France is that they actively encourage exploring the country via motorhome and provide excellent facilities along the way.
As well as French Aires you’ll be spoilt for choice with fabulous campgrounds, plenty of wild camping and the wonderful France Passion network.
So, keep your eyes peeled for the 2021 route, get your map out and begin planning your own bespoke itinerary based around this amazing event!
Driving a motorhome in France
Don’t become part of the Tour’s eventful history by falling foul of the many rules and regulations of French roads. There are many pieces of paperwork and essential items you need to carry in your motorhome before you leave for France such as:
- Driving licence
- International Driver Permit (if required)
- Green card for the vehicle (if required)
- Motorhome insurance
- V5C logbook (or paperwork confirming you are allowed to take the vehicle to France)
- Pet passport (if you’re taking your four-legged friend)
- Travel and health insurance
- GB sticker (unless your number plate already includes the GB Euro symbol)
- French clean air sticker - if you're driving in Paris or any other low-emission zone you need a windscreen sticker to identify your vehicle’s emissions levels
- Warning triangles (x2)
- Reflective jackets for driver and all passengers (must be kept easily accessible)
- Headlight beam converter – Right-hand drive vehicles need to have their headlights modified so they don’t dazzle oncoming drivers
- Snowchains (if you’re going into mountains within certain months)
- First aid kit
- Fire extinguisher
If your sat nav device comes with the ability to detect speed cameras ahead then leave it at home or face a hefty fine. France has also banned the use of all mobile phone hands-free and Bluetooth devices.
Motorhome insurance to keep you on course
Whether or not you decide to join Le Tour next year, a motorhome insurance policy arranged by the team of specialists at Motorhome Protect comes with a range of benefits including:
- Unlimited cover across the European Union
- Cover of camping personal effects for up to £3,000
- Cover for motorhomes with a value up to £150,000
- Unlimited mileage cover
- Discounts for club members
- Consideration of all claims and convictions
Get a quick quote today.
Policy benefits, features and discounts offered may very between insurance schemes or cover selected and are subject to underwriting criteria. Information contained within this article is accurate at the time of publishing but may be subject to change.