Call me strange but I have always enjoyed the month of July because it meant I could fall asleep to the sound of Phil Liggett's voice commentating the Tour de France. There is something about his voice. Like Sir David Attenborough, it's mesmerising. Add that with the amazing scenery while 198 riders fight for the yellow jersey and I have developed a strange obsession with the Tour de France. It's strange because I'm not a cycling fan.
So when we realised that the Tour de France was on during a trip to Europe last year, immediately I thought 'RV + us = road trip!' Yeah baby!
Unfortunately we didn't have the time to follow the whole Tour. So we stuck to the northern part of the route. Arras to Vannes. It was 6 days in total and completely unforgettable.
We didn't know what to expect. There wasn't too much information online and in fact I read a lot of negative articles on caravan sites in France. 'The French don't camp' I kept reading. Yeah well Aussies do so we persisted!
Our first battle was picking up our motor home. We booked our Sunlight T64 4 berth motor home through a company called McRent. To be honest organising it was difficult. They communicated solely in French and were located 30km outside of Paris. But we got there in the end and once we got to the depot it was smooth sailing.
We were two kids in a candy store. ROADTRIP!!! First stop, the three Cs: cheese, croissants and champagne. We packed our fridge and cupboards to the brim. I think the unknown caused us to stock up for the whole trip and I'm glad we did. As a result of our big shop we didn't waste time looking for a supermarket each day. That's my number one tip!
Second stop, find the Tour! All we had to go by was the route map from the Tour de France website. Our strategy? Choose a random town that the riders were going to pass through on that particular stage. So that's what we did. We mixed it up between the starting town, finishing town and those in between. Which brings me to my second tip. Experience them all but the towns in between provide the best experience. Parking your motor home is a lot easier, you can easily find a spot on the side of the road to set up for the day and you get unbelievably up close and personal to the riders. This is what amazed us the most. It truly is the only sporting event I know where you get such an intimate experience and as a spectator you could ruin the race if you wanted to be that idiot.
Following the Tour was incredible. The atmosphere is fantastic, particularly on a time trial stage. Life can't get much better than sitting on the side of the road, watching the Tour de France live, while eating French cheese and champagne in the sun.
We winged accommodation every night. Looking back that was probably the only stress but our motorhome had a shower, toilet and cooking facilities so if our only choice was to park on the side of a road we would have been ok. But no need as we stumbled across some gem caravan parks. One in particular sticks in my mind, Le Colombier, which I will be sharing with you at a later date. Only in France can you stay in a caravan park that is a chateau. Yep, whoever said the 'French don't camp' well I disagree! The caravan parks we found were full, immaculately clean and had better facilities than a lot of parks I have experienced in Australia.
Our motor home holiday was in one word: brilliant! It was such an intimate and hilarious experience. Living in each other's pockets, driving through beautiful French towns and countryside while experiencing a major sporting event for free!! This is an accommodation experience I highly recommend whether it be with your partner, family or friends.