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Last Updated: June 2, 2023

The Tour de France is an annual men’s cycling race. Every year the route changes, but the final stage of the race ends in Paris, France. If you’re visiting the capital at this time of year, it’s a thrilling summer event you won’t want to miss. Bonus—it’s completely free to watch the Tour de France in person!

Here’s some more information about the Tour de France and a round-up of quick tips to prepare yourself for the event.

Tour de France peloton cyclists
Photo by Rob Wingate on Unsplash

Where to See the Tour de France in Paris

  • The Tour de France route changes every year, so it’s best to check the official website for the route the peloton will take into Paris.
  • When the riders enter the final circuit, they race up the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, around the Arc de Triomphe, back down the avenue, and around the Jardin des Tuileries. They do this 8 times. Each loop takes about 9 minutes.
  • The Avenue des Champs-Élysées is going to be the most crowded spot because that’s where the finish line is.
  • The further away from the finish line, the less crowded the streets will be. You can easily find spots in Paris proper where you’ll have little trouble seeing over other spectators.
  • It’s really cool to stand on a corner so you can watch the cyclists round the bend as a unit.
  • The sun sets in the west, so pay attention to where you will be standing… If you’re facing west, you’ll get a terrible view, not to mention terrible photos and videos due to backlighting. (I made this mistake one year!)

When to Arrive to Watch the Tour de France

  • Look at the Tour de France schedule and map to estimate when the peloton will be passing by various areas of Paris. It’s fairly accurate although they sometimes run late!
  • The Tour de France is led by “la caravane.” It’s not quite a parade, but more like ads on wheels for various products. After seeing it once, I don’t mind skipping it!
  • Note that the caravan is about 2 hours ahead of the peloton by the time it gets to the capital. The crowd tends to thin out slightly after the caravan passes, so you could probably walk around a bit and come back for the main event.

How to Get There

  • Keep in mind that some metro stops will be closed for the event. Check the RATP app. 
  • Even if you’re not planning to watch the Tour de France, it’s good to look at where the route is going because you might need to adjust your plans for the day.

Read More: Essential Phone Apps for Your Trip to Paris

What to Bring as a Spectator

  • Rain or shine, you’ll be standing outside for a while with little overhead coverage, so make sure you bring some sunscreen to reapply.
  • If you’re height-challenged, today is not the day to wear your flattest shoes. Wear something comfortable that will give you a better vantage.
  • They set up metal barriers along some parts of the route, closer to the ending. These get hot in the sun. Bring a small towel so you can still rest your arms on the barrier, or better yet, bring your country’s flag!

Final Tip!

  • Don’t get too sucked up in taking photos and videos… enjoy the experience and cheer the cyclists on! It goes by so fast!!!

Have you ever watched the Tour de France in Paris?

Tips for Watching the Tour de France in Paris
Tips for Watching the Tour de France in Paris
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