I am planning on going to watch Paris Roubaix 2023 (from Australia, via London) and am hoping other readers will be able to offer some advice: where to stay (budget to mid-priced accomidation), how many sectors of cobbles (and then the velodrome?) are feasible, what places are worth visiting if I’m travelling with non-cycling family members… any advice would be much appreciated.
If you’re flying from the other end of the world to France, I’d strongly advise to take the occasion to see as much of France as you can (both in time spent and locations visited), and to include a day for Roubaix in your schedule.
In all honesty (and my wife comes from Northern France so I know this part of the country quite well), I don’t think I’d visit that part of France in priority if I came from Australia.
What you could do while staying in or near Paris is drive north from there early in the morning to Arenberg for instance (2,5 to 3,5 hours drive I’d say - depending where you are actually staying), and from here try and see one or maybe two other sectors and the velodrome. But I don’t know how long before they arrive you need to be in the velodrome (so maybe you should drive directly from Arenberg to Roubaix). And keep in mind that some roads will be closed for the race, so plan your route in advance.
By doing so you can take with you those interested in one of the 2 best bike races in the world, and the others can have a “free” day in Paris.
But if you want to make this a bike racing pilgrimage, you need to arrive 10 days before Paris-Roubaix, ride the RVV sportive on Saturday, see RVV on Sunday, see whatever floats your boat in Belgium or France, ride the Roubaix sportive the next Saturday, and see the Race on Sunday
Budget wise, if you can afford the flight and London, Roubaix won’t be an issue You’ll find that Paris is a bit less expensive than London, and significantly more expensive than the rest of the country (save from very touristic locations).
Thanks for your detailed reply. I’ve been living in Australia for over 20 years, but I am English, so I’ve been lucky enough to have been to France many times before I left Blighty 20 years ago. Many happy summer holidays camping around the country in a split screen Volkswagen combi.
This time we will have a month total away from Australia, with hopefully a few days in Belgium around PR and will be squeezed in between other obligations.
The Roubaix trip will be a pilgrimage for me, Paris Roubaix my favourite race. It was my specialist subject on the TV show Mastermind and it’s about time I saw it in person. Family duties and excess baggage changer mean riding the Roubaix or Flanders sportive just won’t be possible. A day or two watching the races, a couple of beautiful Belgium cities and a ferry back across the channel will probably be the most I can squeeze in.
You can rent a bike to ride them. Obviously not as fun as riding your own, but better than just watching
It’s the day before the race so you’ll be around somehow. If visiting France is not the plan then I hope you can steal a day from the month you’ll be here.