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It has been 7 long years since the Tour de France last passed through Samoëns before winding its way up over the infamous Col de Joux Plane, but we remember it like it was yesterday.
A buzz quite unlike anything else filled the valley as camper vans arrived many days before the big event to claim their spot on the famous climb which starts in Samoëns village centre, and ends 11km, and 989 vertical metres later on the Col de Joux Plane at 1691m altitude. Up on the mountain side, the campers sat on the roadside for days, sharing BBQs, recalling stories, and no doubt exchanging a few beverages. Down in the village, the atmosphere built steadily for a week as fans, and families gathered having arranged their summer holidays to take in the big event in the magnificent surroundings of Samoëns.
As the day arrived, the roadside was lined almost continuously to the col where thousands of fans awaited to welcome the riders. And then La Caravanee pulicitaire, or 'Caravane' as it's more commonly known, which is an experience in and of itself! A traditional procession of vehicles passing along the route, music, fancy dress, free goodies being thrown to the crowds... Imagine thousands of people already at maximum level of excitement. Now double it. Men, women and children were seen literally bouncing with excitement. And then the riders passed at a speed incomprehensible considering the number of cols they had already conquered that day. And that week!
An experience unlike any other, and whether you're a cycling fan or not, it's definitely an experience everyone will remember for a long time.
The 2023 edition will pass through Samoëns village on 15 July, before passing through Taninges (12km from Samoëns) on the 16 July. A double header that's not to be missed!
The riders will approach Samoëns on the D907 from Taninges, via Verchaix and then passing the Carrefour supermarket in Samoëns, before making a sharp left turn at restaurant Au Relais Septimontain and climbing towards the Col de Joux Plane.
Caravane: from 3pm (Samoëns village)
Riders expected: from 4.30pm (Samoëns village), from 5pm (Col de Joux Plane)
Road closures: 2.35pm until 5.35pm
Starting from Les Gets, the riders will start the day with a descent down to Taninges before a short climb up to Chatillon, and another descent to Cluses. For those travelling from Samoëns, the closest viewing will be the descent from Les Gets (access by D907 via Verchaix) or climb from Taninges to Chatillon (access by D4 via Morillon).
Caravane: estimated 12:45pm (Taninges)
Riders expected: estimated 1:15pm (Taninges)
Road closures: from 9.30am