Tag Archives: race

Tour de France in Europe is the world’s biggest cycling race, but which cities are the most bicycle-friendly in the world?


The Tour de France is regarded as the world’s biggest sports event when measured by the number of spectators who are watching the race live where it happens. Professional road cyclists race for three weeks in July along a route that mostly zigzags in France, but also in neighboring countries. In 2017, the race starts in Germany. Spectators have free access to follow the race at any point of the route. The best spots have thousands of enthusiastic fans cheering the riders, and since the race is 3540 km / 2200 miles long (in 2017), it adds up to millions of spectators.

The Tour de France is more than 100 years old event, but also the Giro d’Italia (Tour of Italy) and the Vuelta a Espana (Tour of Spain) are traditional three week stage races with long history where the world’s best professional road cyclists compete in teams against one another. Can there be any relation to the popularity of cycling in daily life of ordinary citizens because cycling as a sport is so popular in Europe?
Copenhagen, Denmark: cyclists in front of bicycle rental shop in the city center
Let’s look at a list of the world’s 20 most bicycle-friendly cities in 2017. The ranking has been prepared by the Copenhagenize Design Co. that selected 136 global cities, assessed each one against a set of 14 parameters, and arranged 20 top cities in order. The common denominators that defined the best cities are quite straightforward: cycling is understood as a serious transport method, cities have invested in infrastructure, and they have a desire to make cities better.

Here is the 2017 ranking for the best cities for cyclists as compiled by Wired.

1. Copenhagen, Denmark
2. Utrecht, Netherlands
3. Amsterdam, Netherlands
4. Strasbourg, France
5. Malmö, Sweden
6. Bordeaux, France
7. Antwerp, Belgium
8. Ljubljana, Slovenia
9. Tokyo, Japan
10. Berlin, Germany
11. Barcelona, Spain
12. Vienna, Austria
13. Paris, France
14. Seville, Spain
15. Munich, Germany
16. Nantes, France
17. Hamburg, Germany
18, Helsinki, Finland
19. Oslo, Norway
20. Montreal, Canada

What do you know, France gets the biggest number of cities into the top 20. Germany, Netherlands, and Spain – all very successful nations in bicycle racing – follow France. Only two cities outside Europe made it to the top 20: Tokyo and Montreal.

If you want to follow Tour de France, the official web site of the race is Le Tour, and here you can see which television channels are broadcasting the race live.

For travel information on France, here is a travel guidebook for download.

Vuelta a Valencia 2017

Take a free three-week trip around France with Le Tour


The world’s largest public event probably is the annual cycling race around France – Le Tour de France. The first race took place in 1903 when newspaper reporters and photographers followed the race and reported what had happened. The race passed through villages, towns and cities, allowing millions of people to get a glimpse of the event. After television technology had developed into a stage that allowed helicopters to film and transmit live images to national and international networks, the popularity of the race exploded.

As Le Tour de France live television images from helicopters and motorcycles spread around the world, French tourism office realized their value. For years, television broadcasts from the race have been beautifully planned, shot and directed. Not only they show us the exciting three-week race, but at the same time, we can watch beautiful, stunning and funny sceneries from across France.
tour de france, map route 2015
This is how you get your free three-week trip around France: watch Le Tour and keep track on provinces, towns, mountain passes and coastal areas the race passes by. You will see cities (even the Eiffel tower and Champs Elysees in Paris), high mountains, rustic villages, beach resorts, and varying landscape in between them.

In 2015, Le Tour starts from Netherlands, travels through Normandy and Brittany, skips to the Pyrenees and the Alps before ending in Paris. This year’s race misses the central regions and Provence, but that’s always the case – every part of the large country can’t be covered, although the cyclists race 3360 kilometers between July 4th and July 26th. Le Tour web pages have all the details.

Here is a photo gallery from Tour de France races in 1920s and 1930s. Many towns, roads and sceneries are the same as in recent editions of the race. The roads, however, are paved and cobblestones are rare.

a boy with ducks along le Tour de France

Somewhere along the route cyclists see a boy with ducks.

Tour de France, mountain road

Plenty of beautiful mountain views along the route.

tour de france passes through a city

Racing through a city. Cobblestones are rare today.

Le tour racing through countryside in Provence

A scenery somewhere in Provence or Languedoc.

tour de france in the alps

In the Alps.

tour de france racing through a village

Racing through a village. There are no unpaved roads in Tour de France anymore.

trees provide shade for riders of tour of france

A road lined with trees somewhere in Normandy or Brittany.

A large hand-picked photo gallery of old Tour de France images is available in the book Goggles & Dust.

Planning to travel to France? Download a travel guide to southern France here.

The Lighter Side of Traveling in the Far North: A Day at the Reindeer Races


Lapland is a land of surprises. We all know that Santa Claus has his home in Lapland – in Rovaniemi, Finland to be exact – but it may be surprising to you what reindeers are doing when they are not in duty. Some of the reindeers, it seems, like to race.

Reindeers raced for about 210 meters/230 yards slightly uphill. Two animals raced against each other and the winner proceeded to the next round. Video recorded in Koskikatu in the center of Rovaniemi. It is a pedestrian street, and a primary shopping area of the city.

The race speed is so high that the riders are wearing helmets.

For more fun events, habits and places in northern Europe, check out the book The Lighter Side of Finland by journalist Russell Snyder. He has observed life and people of Scandinavia for years and has discovered the funny side of the northern culture and people.