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5 most picturesque host towns of Tour de France 2022

The beauty of the Tour de France is that it covers each corner of the nation. From north to south, east to west, it crosses France’s most beautiful and historic regions. Travelling through France through the lens of Le Tour is the perfect trip for a cycling fan who wants to taste some of the local culture too. Take a look at our guide to the five most picturesque host towns of Tour de France 2022.

  1. Dunkirk
  2. Briançon
  3. Lourdes
  4. Carcassonne
  5. Morzine

Joe Laverick
Professional cyclist 

Dunkirk

Located in northern France, just on the border with Belgium, Dunkirk will host the first stage of the 2022 Tour de France on French soil after three days of racing in Denmark. As it’s so close to the Belgian border, Dunkirk has a different feel to the rest of France and has a distinctive Flemish influence noticeable in the cuisine, art and architecture. 

The coastal town is famously known for its role in World War II. The name ‘Dunkirk’ has become synonymous with the 1940 Battle of France, evacuation of Allied soldiers and Operation Dynamo – most recently portrayed on screen in the Christopher Nolan film, Dunkirk. History buffs should make time for the war museum, Musée Dunkerque 1940, and a visit to Plage de Malo-les-Bains (the location of the retreat). 

For a different perspective on the city, climb the Dunkirk Belfries. The towers at Saint Eloi and City Hall are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, offering unique views across the town centre and port.   

Briançon

Standing at 1,326m high, Briançon is the highest city in France. It will host the start of Stage 12, which finishes at Alpe d’Huez and is arguably the most iconic phase of the Tour. 

Located in the south-eastern Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region, Briançon has held great geographical significance across history. It is located at the end of several important valleys, and thanks to being on the French-Italian border has been vital for both defence and trade. Its mountainous terrain also offers some of the most beautiful scenery in the whole of France, including Vallée de la Clarée which is one of the 'Grands Sites de France'. 

The Old Town, or Ville Haute, offers Briançon’s most interesting feature, the UNESCO-protected Fort des Têtes, fortifications that were rebuilt in the 18th century by Vauban, a legendary French military engineer. La Porte de Pignerol (sometimes called Doors of Briançon in English) is a large stone gateway and the main entrance into the Ville Haute. 

La Porte de Pignerol immediately opens into the Grande Rue, the main street which has several interesting buildings as well as some great cafes and restaurants. 

The pretty mountain town is dominated by the Church of Notre Dame and Saint Nicholas. The church is characterised by its twin towers and is decorated with sundials. There is also confusingly a clock embedded in the ceiling of the building, built in case the church was required to be used as a refuge in a siege.  

Lourdes

Nestled in south-western France in the foothills of the Pyreenees, Lourdes will host Stage 18 of the 2022 Tour de France. 

Lourdes is one of the most important locations of pilgrimage and religious tourism on the planet. In 1858, a local girl is said to have seen an apparition of the Virgin Mary in the Massabielle Grotto. Ever since, there have been 70 recognised miracles at the site. These are defined as sudden, permanent healings to incurable illnesses that cannot be proved by science. 

The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes, or The Domain as it is more commonly known, is the reason that millions visit Lourdes each year. This includes the shrine to Our Lady of Lourdes, the Massabielle Grotto and the taps which dispense the Lourdes water which many believe have healing properties. 

Before the 1858 apparition, the Château Fort De Lourdes was the most noteworthy feature of the town. The 1000-year-old castle is still standing to this day and offers unrivalled views over the Pyrenees and Marian Sanctuary. It can be reached with a hike up a steep ascent, or simply by an elevator. 

Carcassonne

The south-western town will see the finish of Stage 15, the second rest day and also host the start of Stage 16 in the 2022 Tour de France. 

The fortified city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and offers the finest remains of medieval fortifications in Europe, a spectacle like no other. The Romans first fortified the site in 100 BC, and these fortifications were continuously added to by various rulers until 1659 when the Treaty of the Pyrenees reduced the town’s strategic importance. 

Carcassonne is famous for its medieval citadel, La Cité de Carcassonne. This consists of two outer walls with 53 towers and barbicans to prevent attack by siege. There are noticeable differences on the outer walls which nod to different rulers over time. One section is Roman with red brick layers and terracotta tiled roofs which is a clear contrast from the medieval-style walls. 

For more things to do in Carcassonne, check out our guide. 

Morzine

Located close to the French-Swiss border in the shadows of Mont Blanc, Morzine will host both the first rest day and Stage 10 of Tour de France 2022. 

Morzine is an Alpine market town located in the middle of ‘Les Portes du Soleil’, a major network of ski resorts between Mont Blanc and Lake Geneva, and it unsurprisingly offers some of the best skiing in all of Europe. 

Most famous for its outdoor activities and idyllic location, Morzine brings everything that you’d expect from an Alpine town: from rolling green meadows to the stunning mountain backdrop, traditional wooden chalets to the distant ringing of cow bells. 

Famous for its mountainous scenery, there are three peaks which surround Morzine: Ressachaux, Nyon and Nantaux, each of the challenging “vertical kilometre” hikes are demanding for even the most experienced walkers butoffer sprawling views across the Alps. 

Being in the mountains can seem like an escape from the real world, and Morzine is no exception. The fresh mountain air and the beautiful landscape will offer some of the best views in the 2022 Tour de France. 

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