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Last Updated: July 23, 2023
The Tour de France is an annual men’s cycling race. Every year the route changes, but the final stage of the race (Stage 21) 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!
This year, the Tour de France will arrive in Paris on Sunday, July 23, 2023.
Here’s some more information about the Tour de France and a round-up of quick tips to prepare yourself for the event.
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. Once inside Paris proper, the route is largely the same every year.
- 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 densely packed 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.
- For example, the stretch of the route going up Boulevard Saint-Michel towards central Paris has shockingly few crowds with plenty of room to spread out along the street!
- 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 as the peloton enters Paris in the late afternoon/early evening. If you’re facing west, you might get a terrible view, not to mention terrible photos and videos due to backlighting. I made this mistake one year when standing near Pont Neuf bridge! (This is less of a problem on Boulevard Saint-Michel where the buildings block much of the direct sunlight.)
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 often run late!
- To find the schedule with estimated times, you’ll need to scroll down on the webpage hyperlinked above and click on “Time Schedule.” It’ll just show up as a clock icon if you’re on your mobile device.
- You can check the live feed for greater accuracy as they approach Paris.
- 15-20 minutes ahead of the expected arrival of the peloton is plenty of time to find a spot somewhere along the route on the left bank of Paris. As you get closer to the Seine and cross over to the right bank, you’ll need secure a spot much earlier especially if you’re hoping to watch near the Tuileries or along the Champs-Élysées.
- 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, usually close the finish line near the Champs-Élysées. 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
- 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 best day to wear your flattest shoes. Consider wearing 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 rest your arms on the barrier, or better yet, bring your country’s flag!
- 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?