Arts + Culture

The Checklist: Sporting Events

by Josh Dean

TOUR DE FRANCE

Where: France

Play along: The Tour de France is just so…French. It's a sport obsessed with stamina and fortitude that verges on obstinacy. So why not watch one of the most grueling bits by staking out on the hillside along Alpe d'Huez, the legendary 13-kilometer hill climb in the French Alps. This is where Tour de France riders tackle 22 switchbacks at an average gradient of more than 8 percent—torture for cyclists, heaven for spectators, more than a million of whom speckle the crags and pour onto the road itself, often getting so excited that they have been known to push struggling riders along. Considering that the planet's most grueling bike race covers about 2,200 miles of French countryside over 20 stages, your viewing options aren't exactly limited. But anyone who's attended will tell you that—barring the Mardi Gras–like celebration at the finish line in Paris—the mountain stages present the most grandeur, in every sense.

How to score a ticket: Tickets aren't needed, but logistics can be tricky—accommodations in the small villages are often packed. We suggest having an expert do it for you. Graham Baxter Sporting Tours is Le Tour's official guiding outfit, but outfitters like Butterfield & Robinson also put together trips.

When: Every July.

For more information: www.letour.fr

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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