Tour de France isn't just one of the biggest sporting events on the planet, it's also the world's largest travel advertisement!
From scenic mountain routes to city sprints, traditional Tour de France towns to debut cities, this year’s race, as ever, has it all to offer!
So, whether you’re looking for live Tour de France action, or simply want to be inspired for your next vacation, we've got you covered with tips and tricks to make it memorable.
Read on for our five highlights from the Tour de France route, stage-by-stage, and find out why they’re worth a visit all year round.
The excitement for this year’s return of the Tour de France to the Basque Country is mounting. The townhalls in Bilbao and San Sebastian have been illuminated in anticipation ever since the 100-day countdown began in March. For the local TDF fans, however, this has been eagerly awaited for the last 31 years.
As the riders go on their 576km quest from Bilbao to Amorebieta-Etxano via Vitoria-Gasteiz and San Sebastian, and then across the French border to Bayonne, they can expect an atmosphere like no other every pedal of the way.
Through the years, the Spanish Basque has not only produced some of the TDF’s greatest athletes, but also some of its most passionate supporters. And with the competition’s last appearance here dating back to 1992 – this return to the autonomous region is long overdue.
Tour tip: You’ll struggle to find a region anywhere outside of France more welcoming to TDF fans than the Spanish Basque, so wherever you choose to witness the opening stages, you won’t be disappointed. However, the Grand Départ and first stage finish in debut city Bilbao promises to be a truly unmissable occasion. Once the action settles down, be sure to visit the city’s legendary Guggenheim Museum.
Taste of Basque: The local pride among the people of the Spanish Basque is reflected in the cuisine, which is heavily characterized by local products and dishes prepared in a unique way. Our tip: Don’t leave without trying the Bacalao Al Pil Pil – Basque-style fried cod, cooked with local peppers – a festival-worthy vegetable in the region.
Cycling tip: If you’re looking to soak up some culture on your cycling trip, then look no further than any of the cities on the tour route: Bilbao, San Sebastian and Vitoria-Gasteiz. Time for all three? Even better – the three cities form a triangle on the map, so go ahead and cycle from one to the others in any order you like.
What would the Tour de France be without a dramatic stage finish in the beautiful city of Bordeaux? While Paris surely holds the distinction of the Tour’s most iconic city, the Nouvelle-Aquitaine capital is a worthy contender.
Known among TDF fanatics as the “sprinter’s stage”, Bordeaux is actually making its first TDF appearance since 2010, so there’s never been a better time to visit. The streets of Bordeaux are brimming with Tour de France history, and they’re ready for new stories to be written.
Tour tip: Sprinting is the name of the game. The final few kilometers of the stage 7 route from Mont de Marsan to Bordeaux could be some of the most crucial of the whole race. As for choosing your place as a spectator, you’ll have crowds to content with, but the closer you are to the finish line, the better.
Taste of Bordeaux: If you like red wine, you’re in the right place. The problem is… you might never leave. Of course, Bordeaux and the surrounding regions have some of the best restaurants in the world to explore, but pretty much every meal comes with a recommendation for a glass of red wine.
Cycling tip: With all the sightseeing and winetasting, cycling isn’t often top of the Bordeaux tourist itinerary. But make no mistake, Bordeaux is one of the most cycle-friendly cities in the world. The route along the river Garonne to Toulouse is a real bucket list item for cycling fans.
Perhaps lesser known around the world due to its proximity to the Alps, the French mountain region, Massif Central, covers 15 percent of the country’s mainland and is home to some of the most stunning scenery in Europe.
The European Volcanism Park dedicated to scientific
culture, which will be graced by the Tour de France in stage 10, epitomizes how geologically fascinating the region is. And anyone who has been hiking or touring in this mountain range will tell you, the sheer beauty of Massif Central speaks entirely for itself.
Tour tip: Stage 9 will finish at the Massif Central’s highest peak, the Puy de Dome – a specially selected major high-altitude finish – not for the first time. Puy de Dome is a true Tour de France landmark, with breathtaking views for spectators, and (literally!) breathtaking routes for the riders.
Taste of Massif Central: Much of the region is defined by dairy farming, so you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to cheese. To really get a unique taste of the region, however, indulge in some of the locally produced honey, and maybe take a jar home with you.
Cycling tip: Cycling in the Massif Central is all about fresh air, remote locations, and challenging climbs. In many ways, it’s a cyclist’s paradise, but make sure you pack provisions: areas of civilization are few and far between.
The towering peaks, winding roads and spectacular vistas of the French Alps are a marvel at any time of the year. In winter, they are home to some of the most famous and exclusive ski resorts in the world. In summer, they offer excellent hiking, mountain biking, as well as quaint villages and serene alpine lakes. During the Tour de France, they are the place where iconic scenes play out, legendary mountain stages are decided and champions are crowned. Be sure to get there early for a good spot!
Tour tip: The small commune of Combloux has seen plenty of TDF action over the years, but in 2023, this quaint Alpine village will make its debut as a stage finish. And there’s nothing like an Alpine summit finish. It’s the bread and butter of the Tour de France, so prepare for a party atmosphere.
Taste of the Alps: The regional cuisine is extremely cheesy, with fondue, raclette and Savoie specialty Tartiflette all featured heavily on chalet menus. Don’t over-indulge if you’re watching from your couch!
Cycling tip: Once you leave the Autoroute at Grenoble, there’s no such thing as a non-scenic road as you head into the Alps. La Route des Grandes Alpes, which stretches all the way from Lake Geneva to the Mediterranean, takes in iconic TDF highlights like the Col du Galibier and Col d’Izoard along the way.
The top of the Eiffel tower, a Seine boat tour, a visit to the Louvre … and viewing the final stage of the Tour de France at the finish line. There are many reasons to visit Paris, but for cycling fans, a front-row, first-hand experience of this key race moment is the must-do experience!
Tour tip: The Tour de France finish line has been at the Arc de Triomphe since 1975. While the cyclists suffer a bumpy ride on the cobblestones of the Champs-Elysees, the spectators lining the street feel the goosebumps leading up to the grand finale.
Taste of Paris: The final stage is traditionally accompanied by glass of bubbly and a charcuterie platter, especially if it’s a nail-biting field sprint to the finish line, and of course to toast the 2023 champion and the lanterne rouge!
Cycling tip: Paris has become increasingly cyclist-friendly in recent years, so hop on one of the omnipresent city bikes and choose a sightseeing route.