Lonely Planet Writer

How to enjoy wine, history, French dining and more on the Tour de France route

Just because you’re travelling for the Tour de France doesn’t mean your entire trip has to revolve around cycling. The 105th edition of the race runs from 7 to 29 July, covering more than 3,300 kilometres from Noirmoutier-en-l’Île to Fontenay-le-Comte. While crowds will flock to catch a glimpse of their favourite cyclists, some travellers might want to indulge their other interests while in the world’s most visited country. Luckily, the Tour de France has suggested some of the best spots to get away from the race and explore.

Explore the wine regions of Vendee. Image by S.Bourcier via Tour de France

For wine aficionados

If you love a nice glass of wine, or even just wandering through a beautiful vineyard, then Stage 2 of the tour – which will take place on 8 July – may be for you. This section passes from Mouilleron-Saint-Germain to La Roche-Sur-Yon, providing access to wine producers in the Lay Valley and Brem. Travellers can stop off at vineyards like Vignoble Mercier, or Domaine Saint-Nicolas.

For families

If you’ve brought the whole household along to enjoy the Tour de France, then you might find some additional family fun on Stage 6. Running on 12 July from Brest to Mûr-de-Bretagne, this section of Brittany will offer up plenty to do. On 11 July, the Tour de France will host a Tour Workshop in Lorient where young kids can learn how to ride a bike, while older teens can learn about how to keep their bikes in good condition and road safety. Families can also head off to explore the Karaez Adrenaline Tree Top Adventure Park or the National Navy Museum.

The Notre-Dame-de-Lorette. Image by Tour de France

For history and culture lovers

If you want to take a glimpse into the past, then make some stops along Stage 9 of the race, which runs between Arras Citadelle and Roubaix on 15 July. There, travellers can see the WWI memorial at Arras, which commemorates the forces from the United Kingdom, South Africa and New Zealand who died in the Arras sector between 1916 and 1918. Travellers can also make stops at the Notre-Dame-de-Lorette National Necropolis, which is where the remains of French soldiers lie, and the National Memorial Park of Canada, which commemorates Canadian soldiers and the battle of Vimy Ridge.

Carcassonne. Image by Tour de France

For great food and drink

When the race hits Stage 15 from 22 to 24 July, it will pass from Millau to Carcassonne. Carcassonne is famous for its incredible medieval fortress, but the region is also known for being a great spot for food and wine. You can stop off for some incredibly fine dining at the Le Parc Franck Putelat, which has two Michelin stars, and the The Domaine d’Auriac and La Barbacane, which each have one Michelin star.

For those who love health and fitness

If you’ve gone all the way to see the Tour de France, chances are you have a bit of an interest in health and fitness. Luckily, Stage 17, which runs on 25 July from Bagneres-de-Luchon to Saint-Lary-Soulan, will provide plenty of activities that will let you head away from the race and get your own workout. The Pyrenees spa town of Bagneres-de-Luchon offers up chances to go hiking, hill-walking, mountain biking or paragliding, and you can finish your day with a relaxing trip to its natural thermal baths.

Find out more about the Tour de France here.