You could chase the race in a camper van, but if you’d rather spend more time in the saddle than behind the wheel it’s better to choose somewhere central and daytrip to the stages. We bedded down in Annecy, a quaint Rhônes-Alpes village on a sparkling spring-fed lake with countless mountain roads radiating like spokes out over high and mythic passes.
Stage 18’s historic double ascent of Alpe d’Huez was within easy striking distance, though getting off the mountain at the end of the day proved as epic as any ride we did. But everyone was in such good cheer—Christoph Riblon had just secured France’s first (and only) victory of this Tour, after all—that there was no pushing or grousing or ugliness in spite of the three-hour gondola lines. At the base of the lift in Oz en Oisans, the restaurants were packed, but our guide, John Goldsmith, had a table reserved and vin rouge waiting. Lesson two: A knowledgeable local guide service like Goldsmith’s Annecy-based Duckstore Productions is indispensable.
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