2018 GRAND DEPART

Bikestyle 2017-07-02-91

TRIP DETAILS : 
Duration: 9 days (8 nights)
Dates: Friday, July 6 – Saturday, July 14, 2018
Start: Nantes, Pays-de-la-Loire
Finish: Tours, Centre-Val de Loire
Accommodation: 3 and 4 Star hotels
Group Size: 20 Guests (4 Staff)
Suitable for: Cyclists and Non Cyclists
TRIP COST: AUD$5500.00 (US$4240.00)
OPTIONAL SINGLE SUPPLEMENT: AUD$690.00 (US$530.00)

Note: All trip costs are per person, not including airfare and based on two persons per room. If traveling alone we will match you with a person to share. Alternatively, you may choose to have a room of your own by paying the single supplement.

Optional Extras:

Highlights:

  • Experience the exciting opening stages in Vendée, including a stage start, stage finish, the teams’ time trial and the unique experience of a feed-zone
  • Visit Loire valley
  • Visit Châteux Azay-le-Rideau
  • Wine tasting and tour of Chinon caves
  • Visit the Normandy region
  • Visit Musée du Vélo

This Trip will be Escorted by Former Pro-Cyclist, Eric de Clercq

Eric is a native Belgian whose career spanned 11 years from 1991 to 2002, in which he had 19 victories including a stage win in the Tour of Britain. He is one of the hard men of Belgium having raced the big Classics such as Tour of Flanders and Paris Roubaix. Eric rode for La William-Duvel from 1991-1993, and Collstrop from 1994-2002.After he retired from racing, Eric became a Director Sportif from 2004-2007 for the Vlaanderen Women’s Pro Team. It was here that Eric learnt the organisational skills that make him such an asset to Bikestyle Tours.

Eric has been with Bikestyle Tours for several years and has run trips to the Spring Classics, Giro d’Italia, La Vuelta a Espana and of course, le Tour de France. Speaking three languages, you will find Eric to be a very capable guide and good guy to socialise with after a ride.

Who is this trip for?

Our Grand Depart trip has a riding itinerary suited to leisure or social riders. There is great race viewing and cultural experiences on our way from the Atlantic coast to the rolling countryside of Normandy. See the excitement of opening stages. Our carefully planned itinerary catches four stages live and our rides are along quiet and flat roads, including parts of the race route. A highlight off the bike will be visiting the famous UNESCO World Heritage listed Val-de-Loire where our daily activities will explore the fairy-tale castles and pause to taste some beautiful French wine.

The 105th Tour de France peloton will depart from the island of Noirmoutier. A difficult opening week confronts the peloton and has stages that favour different riders. Sprinters will initially have their opportunity to claim a yellow jersey before a team’s time trial. Then there are some short punchy climbs and the cobbled roads that are maintained by the friends of the Hell of the North. A daunting week for contenders. Only a selection of riders will be in contention for the 105th tour victory after the first week.

All riders carry nerves into the first stages of the Tour de France. The nervous energy of the bunch adds another dimension to watching the race live.  It isn’t until well into the first week that the riders’ accumulated days on the bike tires their nervous energy. The Grand Depart is a spectacle.

Itinerary

Friday 6 July: Bienvenue (Welcome) to France

Our staff will meet you at Nantes TGV station at 11:00 am. Nantes is easily accessible by TGV from Paris and other French destinations. You can also fly into Nantes Atlantique Airport which is accessible to the train station with the shuttle service. Nantes is a city recognised for biodiversity, green spaces, and well-managed public transport system. Arriving a day early is the best way to prepare for your trip.

After collecting you from the station, we’ll transfer you to our 4-star spa hotel on the sandy beaches of our seaside resort, conveniently located near tomorrow’s race route. Staff will help you ready your bike, or fit your pedals to your hire bike before heading out for an easy warm-up ride. The Vendee region is famous for its sunny weather, fine sandy beaches, seafood cuisine, sailing and not far from the coast there are many nature trails to explore.

Bikestyle 2017-07-11 -17

If you are not riding today, after settling into our hotel, you may like to walk along the beautiful seafront promenade lined with its shops and cafes.

Tonight we will enjoy a special welcome dinner at a local restaurant, a perfect opportunity to meet fellow guests and staff who will be on hand to answer questions about your cycling holiday with Bikestyle Tours.

Easier Ride Option

Meals
Welcome Dinner (with drinks)

Overnight
Vendée, Pays-de-la-Loire

Harder Ride Option

Saturday 7 July: Opening stage along the Atlantic coast

A bridge connects Noirmoutier to the mainland, or a more adventurous route is via a submersible road – Passage du Gois. The 4km stretch of road is only passable twice a day as it floods during high tide. Le Tour has crossed Passage du Gois, with varying levels of success, in fact during the 1999 edition, the slippery surface caused a crash, forcing some riders to abandon. In 2018, such drama will be avoided and riders will cross the bridge, hugging the Atlantic Coast.

After breakfast, we will travel to Noirmoutier to watch the excitement of the opening stage start. Starts are a great buzz seeing the team buses arrive. Riders will make their way between their bus and the announcers stage to sign on. You may snag a selfie with your favourite riders before they gather behind the lead commissaire car to begin their lap of France in the 105th edition of the Grand Boucle. We’ll follow the riders out and you’ll have a choice of ride distances. Our ride will pass through the seaside villages and beach promenades, some of it on today’s race route.

Bikestyle 2017-07-19-10

We will return to our hotel in time for you to see the final moments of today’s stage. The winds across the prairie may cause havoc among riders. Either way, there will be a sprint to decide the rider taking the first line honours and the yellow jersey. Tonight, you are free to dine at one of the many restaurants in our resort town.

Easier Ride Option

Meals
Breakfast

Overnight
Vendée, Pays-de-la-Loire

Harder Ride Option

Bikestyle 2017-07-12-313

Sunday 8 July: Stage Finish

Relax this morning at our spa hotel before leaving for today’s stage. Our cycling guests have a pretty ride through quiet roads and small French villages before arriving at today’s finish town of La Roche Sur Yon. Most villages on our scenic route were established during the renaissance period. There are also some neolithic sites. If you aren’t riding today, we will transfer you to today’s finish village and explore La Roche Sur Yon for the afternoon before the riders arrive. Popular with the locals is the award-winning Napoléon Square celebrating the diversity and history of Vendée.

After seeing an exciting sprint finish and the presentations, we will travel back to our resort. From our hotel, you can walk along the beach promenade to a restaurant of your choice and catch the setting sun over the Atlantic.

Easier Ride Option

Meals
Breakfast

Overnight
Vendée, Pays-de-la-Loire

Harder Ride Option

Monday 9 July: Team’s Time Trial

In 2018, the new rules of the UCI reduce the size of peloton at the Tour de France from 198 to 176 riders, as teams consist of 8 riders, not 9. Fewer riders makes it more difficult for teams to close gaps to breakaways. Today’s team time trial with one less rider will be more demanding as riders have less time to recover in the draft of their team-mates. Look out for the dominance of Orica-Scott, Sunweb, and BMC as when it comes to the race of truth, they all have a lot of depth in their squad.

Nice Orica TTT2

After breakfast, we will travel to Cholet, the host of today’s time trial. We will arrive early enough for our riders to ride parts of the today’s course. After your ride, you can freshen up using the hot shower on our luxury coach. You will have lots of time to see the teams prepare around their team buses and roll off the wide starting ramp. All of the on-course action will be available from the big screens around the village, as well as being able to watch riders on the course.

We have a short transfer to our next hotel after the winner’s presentation. On arrival to Saumur, we will head out to a local restaurant for a delightful dinner together, sharing our stories of watching Le Tour live. Our hotel for the next 3 nights is a 4-star hotel situated on the Loire river. Our hotel has easy access to the famous châteaux of the Loire Valley and the wineries in the area.

Easier Ride Option

Meals
Breakfast, Dinner

Overnight
Maine-et-Loire, Pays-de-la-Loire

Harder Ride Option

Tuesday 10 July: Wineries of Chinon and Saumur

We recognise the importance of taking time to enjoy the best of France on all of our trips, after all it is not only about the bike race. As the racing heads into the North-Western corner of France, on an otherwise transfer day, we will explore the beautiful Loire Valley.

Loire showcases France’s splendour, style and gastronomy. Some of the best dining experiences are found in the Loire. Strategically located a short distance from Paris, the castles in the Loire valley were once pleasure places for the aristocracy, and are now marvelled by their visitors. Beyond the pleasure palaces is the excellent food sourced along the fertile river valley, and the local wines are even better.

saumur-castle-france-gg
Bikestyle 2017-07-02-90

Today we will sample the local wineries around Chinon and visit the underground cave systems used by producers to store their vintage in ideal temperatures and humidity. You can either ride or we will transport you to meet up with the riders in this beautiful setting.

On return to our hotel, you’ll have the afternoon to explore the sophisticated yet laid back city, catch up with today’s stage, visit the local châteaux and possible sample more wine. If your dirty clothes have started to out number your clean ones, you’ll have the opportunity to drop them in a washing machine.

Easier Ride Option

Meals
Breakfast, Wine Tasting

Overnight
Maine-et-Loire, Pays-de-la-Loire

Harder Ride Option

Wednesday 11 July: Châteaux of the Loire

Today, we’ll venture a little further afield toward Tours, along the Loire river. One of the feeding waterways is the Indre River. During the 1500s, on a natural island in the middle of the Indre, Francis I assumed possession of Châteaux Azay-le-Rideau. At the time, the Treasurer of France owned the property but had fled after being caught for embezzlement.

Chateau Azay-le-Rideau

Azay-le-Rideau is one of the most beautiful castles in Val-de-Loire, an icon of French traditions with Italian influences. A beautifully landscaped park complements the château’s elegant turrets, perfectly proportioned windows, delicate stonework and steep slate roofs. The château’s most famous feature is the open, Italian-style staircase overlooking the central courtyard.

You have the option of visiting the château or returning to our hotel by bike, enjoying a longer ride option today. We will transport guests back to our hotel if you aren’t riding or would like to spend more time seeing the castle. Once back at our hotel, you are free to explore this beautiful city and catch up with the finish of today’s stage to Quimper.

Easier Ride Option

Meals
Breakfast

Overnight
Maine-et-Loire, Pays-de-la-Loire

Harder Ride Option

Thursday 12 July: Rolling hills of Normandy

After breakfast, we will travel north to Normandy, just a short distance. The rolling hills are separated by valleys, small rivers, fields and forests. Among the scenic villages and nestled into the landscape are charming manor houses.

We will start our rides today from the fascinating town of La Ferté-Bernard, where its centre has many restored medieval façades and some of the town’s defensive walls are still visible. The old town also has an impressive gothic church. From here we will ride our way through the Perche forests, enjoying the quiet roads and changing landscape.

Our hotel for the next 2 nights is part of the Country Club, situated in the Natural Regional Parc du Perche, an area of natural beauty.

Easier Ride Option

Meals
Breakfast, Dinner

Overnight
Orne, Normandie

Harder Ride Option

Friday 13 July: Cycling museum and feedzone

France has some incredible museums. Few are dedicated to cycling. This morning we will ride the short distance to Musée du Vélo “La Belle Echappée”, a stunning museum dedicated to cycling and celebrating “Le Grand Boucle” – the Tour de France. There are over 60 bicycles on display, spanning the eras and a series of displays showcasing bikes, jerseys and videos.

The racing bikes and jerseys on display belonged to or are on loan from the most famous and greatest cyclists in history such as Anquetil, Armstrong, Bobet, Hinault, Indurain, Merckx. The interactive video hall allows you to select a rider and watch a highlight from their career – such as Richard Virenque’s solo victory over Col de Peyresourde in 1995.

After walking through the history of the Tour this morning we will catch up with today’s stage, the longest of the tour. Riders will be searching for their nutrition at the feed-zone today, so we will head for there and try to souvenir some of their musettes and unwanted goodies.

Once the race has passed, we will head back to our hotel for a special farewell dinner. Our final night is celebrated with a lovely meal and accompanying wine. We’ll acknowledge our new friendships and enjoy recalling our stories of the past week on the Grand Depart.

Easier Ride Option

Meals
Breakfast, Farewell Dinner (with drinks)

Overnight
Orne, Normandie

Harder Ride Option

Saturday 14 July: Au Revoir (Farewell) to new friends

Sadly, our trip comes to an end today. We hope our 9 days of riding, cheering, dining and laughing in beautiful France has created new friendships and great memories. After breakfast this morning we will make one transfer to Tours TGV station. Tours is just over an hour by TGV to Paris. Being Fête Nationale, also know as Bastille day, you can catch the fireworks displays this evening in either Tours or Paris. Tours is a sophisticated city with great dining options and an extensive medieval historic centre. If you are traveling on from Tours today, we will arrive at the TGV station around 11:00 am, so book a train after 12:00 pm.

Why not make the Grand Depart an hors d’œurve for seeing the Tour through the Alps and Pyrenees? For the full three week experience, join our Grand Tour and we will transfer you to Lyon today before visiting Lake Annecy and staying on the race route for the stage finish on top of Alpe d’Huez.

We hope we see you again one day.

Meals: Breakfast

Paris panorama

Inclusions

Tour cost is per person twin share and includes:

  • Transport throughout by custom mini vans or luxury coach
  • Services of our experienced tour guides, mechanics and drivers
  • 8 nights accommodation in quality 3 & 4 star hotels
  • Wine tasting in the Loire Valley
  • Buffet breakfast daily
  • 3 course evening meals on 4 nights
  • Wine at welcome and farewell dinners
  • Mechanical assistance with your bike
  • Scheduled arrival transfer on day one from Nantes TGV Station
  • Transfer to Paris, Charle de Gaulle airport on final day
  • Maps and Bikestyle guide to the 2018 Tour de France
  • Full Bikestyle Tours kit including knicks, cycling jersey, cap and musette bag

Reserve your Place Now

NOTE: Please place number of persons attending in box below
Deposit 2018 Grand Depart 9 Days ($1000pp)
2018 Grand Depart Bicycle Hire ($490.00)
2018 Grand Depart Single Supplement ($690.00)
Tick the box to accept the Bikestyle Waiver and Reservation Conditions. If renting a bicycle you also agree to our Bicycle rental Conditions
  • We charge for our trips in Australian Dollars (AUD) and prices shown in other currencies are only approximate. We advise that you check the exchange rate before booking.
  • A surcharge of 1.5% is applicable for payments made with visa or mastercard and 3% for payments made with American Express credit cards.
  • Deposits can also be paid by direct deposit or cheque.
  • It is a requirement of Bikestyle Tours that you have Travel Insurance for your trip.
If you have any further enquiries please email us at tours@bikestyletours.com

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