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Hidden Gems Along the Tour de France Route 2024

By Megan Flottorp

The Tour de France is much more than an annual showcase of athletic prowess; it’s an odyssey through some of Europe’s most enchanting regions. As the peloton navigates the demanding stages of the 2024 route, it weaves through a stunning selection of locales brimming with history, untouched natural beauty, and distinctive charm. 

This year’s course offers a unique opportunity to discover hidden gems that lie just off the well-trodden paths. It invites you to explore the depth and richness of this part of the world beyond the race itself. Whether you’re following the Tour closely or seeking a deeper cultural experience, these destinations promise to captivate and inspire.

Stage 6: KM 26.9 — Find your calm in Taizé

Taizé is world-famous for hosting the Taizé Community, founded in 1944 by Swiss friar Roger Schutz, which brings together around a hundred pastors and friars from all over the world who have chosen to live a life of prayer and celibacy together. The choice of this place is linked to its proximity to the Abbey of Cluny. The community, the first in the world to welcome Protestant monks, has received around 50,000 visitors a year since 1966, making a total of almost 4 million visitors since it was founded. They are housed in chalets and tents and can join groups for reflection, singing, music, Bible study, and prayer. 

Stage 7: KM 19.9 — Raise a glass in Morey-Saint-Denis 

The Morey-Saint-Denis vineyard on the Côte de Nuits is one of the most prestigious in Burgundy, and indeed in France and the world, with a surface area of 150 hectares planted with Pinot Noir grapes for red wine, including 40 hectares rated as Grand Cru and 44 hectares as Premier Cru. One hectare is planted with aligoté, which produces one of Burgundy’s rarest premier cru whites, Clos des Monts Luisants. Needless to say, the village is home to a number of winegrowers’ cellars worth visiting and several gourmet restaurants. 

Stage 12: KM 79.9 — Witness the majestic in Rocamadour 

Rocamadour is considered one of the most beautiful places in France. © Profimedia

A veritable challenge to balance, set against a cliff face, the Marian city of Rocamadour welcomes visitors and pilgrims all year round. Its thousand-year history dates back to the first hermits who settled in a vast rock shelter. In 1166, the perfectly preserved body of Saint Amadour was discovered on the site where the shrine now stands. Rocamadour was the sumptuous setting in 2022 for the Tour de France’s final time trial (40km), where Jonas Vingegaard completed his victory in the event while his team-mate Wout van Aert won the stage.  

Stage 14: KM 37.6 — Pay your respects in Lourdes

Every year, Lourdes welcomes millions of visitors from every continent. Since 1858, they have come on pilgrimage to the place where Bernadette Soubirous met the Virgin in a grotto near the river Gave. In 2018, Lourdes celebrated 160 years since the apparitions. A stage of the Tour de France set off from there towards Laruns, where Primož Roglič won his second stage victory in the Grande Boucle. It was not until 1948 that a finishing line was drawn for the first time in Lourdes for the victory of Gino “The Pious” Bartali. On that day, the national hero of Italian cycling, tasked along with Fausto Coppi with boosting his country’s morale, took his winning bouquet to the grotto and attributed his miraculous victory in the Tour, ten years after the first, to Our Lady of Lourdes. He would return to the shrine each time he visited the region. 

Stage 15: KM 19.9 — Get your spa day on in Bagnères-de-Luchon

Enjoy a spa day in Bagnères-de-Luchon. © Profimedia

Its privileged position has enabled t to host the Tour de France 55 times, a record for a town of its size. It has to be said that this renowned spa town has been part of the history of the race since 1910, when it hosted the first two high mountain stages of the event, both of which were won by Octave Lapize, the future winner of that edition. The Queen of the Pyrenees has also often crowned the future winner of the Tour or its hero, such as Pascal Simon in 1983, Thomas Voeckler in 2010 and Julian Alaphilippe in 2018. That year, the allées d’Étigny were the setting for a novel start in the form of an F1 Grand-Prix-style grid. Bagnères-de-Luchon is the most distinctive mountain town in the entire Pyrenees range. Surrounded by the 13 most famous peaks in the range, including Aneto (3,404 m), the highest peak in the Pyrenees, Luchon has everything you need for thrills and relaxation! 

Stage 16: KM 7.2 — Indulge in a seaside escape in Fleury

Also known as Fleury d’Aude, this seaside commune covers more than 5,000 hectares and comprises three entities: the winegrowing village of Fleury, the seaside resort of Saint Pierre la Mer, frequented by Toulouse-Lautrec, and the fishing and yachting port of Les Cabanes de Fleury. The commune offers a wide variety of landscapes: 3,000 hectares of garrigue, 6 kilometres of sandy beaches and the River Aude, which crosses the area for 9 km before flowing into the Mediterranean, 1,000 hectares of vineyards, 1,000 hectares of marshes, ponds and wetlands. The open-air market in Saint Pierre la Mer is the largest in the region and is open every day from May to September — yes, please! 

Stage 18: KM 139.4 — Capture the “fairy chimneys” in Les Demoiselles coiffées

Les Demoiselles coiffées (The Hatted Maidens), more commonly known as “fairy chimneys”, are original formations created by erosion. They take the form of a column of various conglomerates supporting a rock of varying size. In order to prevent their further deterioration and, above all, to avoid putting the public at risk of accidents, a footpath has been created below them, with explanatory panels and superb panoramic views. The 2.60 ha parcel of land housing the Demoiselles coiffées of Sauze du Lac has been a listed site since 1966.

Stage 20: KM 35.9 — Go medieval in Sospel 

A medieval village at the gateway to the Mercantour Park, Sospel is famous for its old toll bridge. This type of bridge is one of the last in Europe and is a rare sight indeed. In addition to this historical curiosity, Sospel boasts a remarkable natural environment. Nestling on the banks of the River Bévéra, the medieval village lies just 20 km from Menton at an altitude of around 350 metres. The Second World War almost devastated the town. But Sospel fought back, and even today proudly displays its rich historical heritage, with no fewer than seventeen listed buildings.