Pulling together a bespoke itinerary can be time consuming depending on the destination, attractions, and length of vacation. I carefully sift through the overwhelming research information to ensure the daily plan meets the needs of my clients. Having said that, there are very few itineraries that stump me. Let me explain. I have been working on a solo itinerary for a few years that is proving a bit difficult to come together. The destination and airfare are not the problem. The knot is in the daily activity that I want to accomplish. I want to follow all 21 stages of the Tour de France bicycle race from start to finish. The plan is an ambitious one and does not line up with my US$1500 budget, no matter how I try to make it work. Therefore, I have decided to ask for your help.
The Tour de France, also called the holy grail of cycling is slated to take place on July 7 – 29. The race route changes annually and for a frugal backpacker like me, I have found that these changes effect my plans as prices fluctuate thereby making it difficult to stay within my fixed budget, so I am willing to increase the budget to US$2000.
Every year, I get excited as I watch teams battle each other along the grueling course, strategizing and outmaneuvering each other with their cat and mouse tactics. Team Sky, Movistar, Lotto Soudal, Mondiale, Canondale-Drapac, Tinkoff-Saxo are some of the better-known teams. Riders like Chris Froome, Nairo Quintana, Richie Porte, Leopold Konig, Alberto Contador and Peter Sagan, to name a few, rise to the occasion vying for the most coveted jersey – the yellow jersey. There are five other jerseys contested to win. Teams are made up of nine riders, and there are usually 20+ teams entering the 23-day cycling event.
The commentary of the event is just as exciting. Bob “Bobke” Roll, a former cyclist himself and my favorite commentator, explains every nuance of the teams, riders, and support personnel. To watch the event is thrilling but to be there must be a different story. A former work colleague who witnessed two stages of the race back in 2015 told me he was impressed with the speed of the cyclists. He claimed the teams sped by so swiftly that spectators who had been waiting along the roads and at every vantage point, some for hours, could scarcely catch a glimpse of their favorite cyclist in the peloton before they disappeared out of sight within minutes.
Be that as it is, my adventurous nature still wants to see a portion of the race at every stage. The race comes to an end as they bike along the Champs Élysées and circle the Arc de Triomphe. On television the climax is spectacular, and I wouldn’t want to miss that for anything. I have been to France a few times but would still use this opportunity to enjoy the many sites and attractions along the way.
Here are some of the decisions where I need your help:
Budget – I have already determined that this is not a US$1500.00 budget prospect. I have increased the amount. Is that doable or do you think it should be higher?
Transportation – Joining the first peloton is out of the question. What should be my means of transport?
Accommodation – At the end of each stage, teams, staff, tour operators, media, et al have first dibs at local hotels. Airbnb, couchsurfing, hostels maybe hard acquirements given the die-hard European fans who come out to support their teams. Accommodation cost may also be pricey depending on location. Not a problem if I rent a RV (hee-hee, not in the budget), or if I campout in a tent. What would you suggest?
Meals – On other trips I would manage my own cooking, however, not sure of my accommodation or routing, I may have to dine out every night. This too could be pricey. The much-touted French gastronomy is not a cheap option. What do you recommend?
Route safety – Navigating the route may prove to be difficult even with a GPS. How should I tackle this one?
Language – Even though I may be able to say a few phrases in French, I do not speak the language well enough to be understood. To further complicate the issue, internet translations may not be accessible if I get lost high in the mountains where there is no signal (not likely but still possible), or if I need to communicate in an emergency. Smoke signals are not an option, so tell me what you think I should do?
Blog Peeps and viewers, if you think you can help me plan my Tour de France itinerary, or you have an answer to any of the issues above, or I completely missed a pertinent aspect of the trip, then let me know by dropping a comment in the box below. All recommendations will be considered and I will let you know if they become part of the plans for the trip. God willing and life be spared, without question I will give a comprehensive update of the experience post-trip.
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