At 3.16 pm on the 1st July 1903, the first Tour de France race began.
People from all across the region congregated in the small town of Montgeron, just south of Paris, and lined up outside the Café Reveil-Matin in the hopes of winning the grand prize – 12,000 francs.
Today, more than 100 years later, France has become synonymous with cycling, and the Tour de France sits at the epicentre of the country’s sporting heritage.
Next year, in 2020, the 107th edition of the race shall begin, starting this time in Nice.
Cyclists from all across the world will race through France, cycling over the sublime Alpine mountains, the Massif Central, the Pyrenees and the vineyard hills of the Jura, a region of France that borders Switzerland.
It’ll be a perilous three-week journey for cyclists, but for spectators who’ll cheer cyclists off at the start line, it’ll be a trip filled with sunshine, riviera coastline and gloriously blue oceans, because Nice is just that – glorious.
If you’re visiting Nice for the Tour de France next year, here are a few things to know.
1. Pack light
Given that the Tour de France will be held over June and July of next year, you might want to consider packing light.
Nice sits on the southern coast of France, and sunshine is all but guaranteed.
Be sure to bring shorts, t-shirts and your bathing suit, because you know as well as we do that as soon as those cyclists have set off, you’ll be straight into that ocean. And we don’t blame you.
2. Cycle the infamous roads for yourself
Consider renting a bike while you’re there (or even bringing your own) so that you can also experience the majestic roads that surround Nice.
When the Tour de France cyclists have set off, the roads will be yours to cycle as you please, and what better place than the winding road of Col d’Èze, which is traditionally the final climb in the Paris-Nice cycle event, or the mountainous Col de la Madone, which can be found a little ways up the coast.
3. Hole up in the city and enjoy the summer nights
If you don’t feel like cycling yourself, why not find a luxury apartment to rent and spend your days indulging in coffee and wine instead.
After all, the Tour de France doesn’t have to be exerting for everyone involved.
Or escape the hustle and bustle of Old Town and wine and dine at L’Autre Part, a wine bar with a cellar containing more than 300 organic, biodynamic and artisan wines. The possibilities are endless.
4. Go hunting for the pros
Nice is a glamorous city filled with glamourous people, and although the rich and famous choose to vacate here year-round, there’s never a better time to hunt for celebrities excited by the Tour de France, let alone pro athletes who are gearing up to cycle the event.
Jake Gyllenhaal, Matthew McConaughey and Ben Stiller are no strangers to the race, and there’s a definite chance of seeing 2020’s riders, including Christopher Froome, Egan Bernal, Thibaut Pinot and Romain Bardet.
5. The Grand Depart
Nice 2020 marks the 4th Grand Depart of the Tour de France on French soil in the last decade.
That’s right. While the cycling race traditionally always ends in France’s heartland, Paris, it doesn’t always begin in France.
In the last decade, the race has only begun on French soil four times:
- In 2011 in Pays de la Loire;
- In 2016 in Mont-Saint-Michel;
- In 2018 in La Vendee;
- And now in 2020, in Nice.
If you’re attending the event next year, consider yourself one of the lucky ones. Of all the cities to visit in the summertime, Nice is up there as a must-see spot.
Get ready to soak in vast amounts of culture, glamour, delectable food and wine, and most importantly, the Grand Depart.