Whether you're planning a trip for the future or have the itch to ride the Tour de France course after watching the peloton whiz by, these seven stages from the 2016 edition offer the perfect chance to recreate the fun and excitement of the world's biggest bike race (without having to cycle over 2,000 miles).
Stage 1: Mont-Saint-Michel to Utah Beach188km 1 of 8
For history buffs, Stage 1 is a must. With the backdrop of the Mont-St-Michel in your rearview, you'll visit many of the coastal towns in the Normandy region. The route cuts east across to the Cotentin peninsula, where you'll arrive at Utah Beach--the site of the D-Day operations during World War II. The route is entirely flat and provides a rare opportunity to relax and take in an once-in-a-lifetime day on the bike.
Stage 3: Granville to Angers223km 2 of 8
Race director Christian Pudhomme promised this sprinting stage, which tours the French department of Manche, to be one of the most stunning in the entire race. Beginning in the seaside resort town of Granville, once you head inland, you'll witness lush, green scenery and rural countryside unique to this area of France. The route is almost entirely flat and shouldn't provide too many challenges aside from distance and strong crosswinds, which are common in this part of the country.
Stage 8: Pau to Bagneres-de-Luchon184km 3 of 8
For most fans, the Tour de France is synonymous with iconic climbs. If that's what you're after, Stage 8 will give you just what you're looking for. You'll tackle two of the race's most legendary climbs, beginning with the Col du Tourmalet at the 67 km mark and ending with the Col de Peyresourde before the descent to the finish in Bagneres-de-Luchon. Just make sure you bring your climbing legs and a lot of snacks because you'll need both to reach the peak before a steep descent to the finish.
Stage 10: Andorra to Revel197km 4 of 8
Retracing Stage 10's route will take you to the border of Spain and France, where you'll get to enjoy the mountainous beauty of the eastern Pyrenees without too much climbing. While Andorra is technically a landlocked microstate in Southwestern Europe, you'll have to conquer the stage's only mountain pass right off the bat. After that, you'll get a nice, long descent where you'll get the chance to show off your bike handling skills. From Tarasco-Sur-Ariege, it'll be a mostly flat, peaceful ride into Revel.
Stage 12: Montpellier to Mont Ventoux184km 5 of 8
One of cycling's greatest arenas, Mont Ventoux is a place every cyclist should visit. While it won't be easy, riding to the top of the legendary 15.7 km Hors Catogorie will provide you with an unforgettable experience. But don't let the epic climb psych you out--you should be able to take it easy on the way up, as the rest of the route is flat as a pancake.
Stage 16: Moirans-en-Montagne to Berne (Switzerland)209km 6 of 8
While most stages in the Tour de France offer the chance to take in the country's epic beauty, the route on Stage 16 is in a category of its own. The route features a smorgasbord of terrain: rolling hills, flat plains and a category 4 climb up Cote de Muhleberg. You'll finish the ride by crossing the border into Switzerland, where the picturesque town of Berne, the hometown of cycling legend Fabian Cancellara, awaits.
Stage 18: Sallanches to Megeve17km ITT 7 of 8
If those long, hard days tackling multiple high mountain passes aren't quite your idea of fun, Stage 18 is the perfect way to climb like the pros on a short but challenging individual time trial course. At just 17km, you should be able to tackle this route with moderate fitness--though the final 12km is almost entirely uphill. And no matter how long it takes you, it'll be fun to compare how your individual effort stacks up to the pros in the peloton.