Designing for the Tour de France takes a lot of passion, patience, planning, skill and a little bit of luck. Hear from our expert Trip Designer, Penny, who for the last nine years has created Le Tour itineraries that capture the spirit of this iconic race—winning the hearts of guests and guides alike.

Trek Travel Tour de France Cycling Vacation

Tell us your story. How did you end up at Trek Travel?
That’s a very long story! In a nutshell, I guided with Tania (Trek Travel’s President) in the late 90’s. We ran 10-day Tuscany camping trips together! Guides cooked breakfast, lunch and dinner for guests and slept in the trailer! After that I guided wilderness adventures and then I joined Tania once again at Trek Travel in 2005.

How long have you been designing for the Tour de France?
Since 2009.

How do you put these trips together? Tell us about your design process.
As soon as the TdF finishes at the end of July, I start looking for rumors about next year’s race. I contact hotels in the areas where I think the race will be to get our reservations in early. Having great relationships with hotels is a key advantage as the ASO blanket books all hotels in areas where the race will be. Once the race route is announced, we confirm the hotels that are best situated for our guests to view the race and also ride the climbs that will be featured. The ideal itinerary is one that has one or two excellent hotels and is in close proximity to the race action and featured climbs.

Trek Travel Tour de France Cycling Vacation

What are some of the greatest challenges?
Finding great 4- and 5-star hotels especially in mountain areas, working with the ever changing logistics of the race itself and road closures.

What is the most rewarding part of designing for the Tour?
Definitely designing a first class trip on paper which the guides then take and create an experience of a lifetime for guests. Guides put the icing on the cake with these trips, no doubt. Talking to guests at the finale in Paris and seeing that twinkle in their eye that means they’ve had an experience of a lifetime makes it all worth while!

If you could ride any stage what would it be?
Stage 19 Lourdes to Laruns: It has been a while since the final mountain finishes have been in the Pyrenees and this stage features some of the most spectacular climbs of this stunning mountain range. The beautiful Col d’aspin, epic Col du Tourmalet, and the stunning Col du Solour and Col d’Aubisque double.

Trek Travel Tour de France Cycling Vacation

What are you most excited about for this year’s Tour?
Watching the mountain stages. With only four days between the Alps and the Pyrenees and both regions packing huge bucket list climbs such as Alpe d’Huez and the Col du Tourmalet, the pro’s will definitely have a fight on their hands.

Piece of advice for guests going on a tour trip for the first time?
The race has a life, personality and magic of its own that can only be felt up close and personal. A great hotel is nice to stay at, gourmet meals are a pleasure to eat, BUT riding and sweating up a famous Tour climb ahead of the peloton—your legs begging you to stop— and feeling the elation of making it to the top is where it’s at. A short while later while in the comfort of the VIP zone at the finish line you’ll watch the pro’s do the exact same thing, sweat and pain in their eyes. Be warned it is addictive!

Experience the 2018 Tour de France for yourself.

Reserve Your Spot