With around 1 billion viewers in 190 different countries, the Tour de France is the third most followed sporting event in the world. Almost all French towns, no matter how small, remember the passage of the Grande Boucle, one summer day, through their streets. And the greatest pride is to welcome the start or finish of a stage of the Tour. Since 1947, only 750 municipalities have had this privilege, some of which are foreign. And for good reason: being a stopover town is expensive.
On average, more than 200 cities send their applications each year. They know the price of Amaury Sport Organization, which organizes the Tour de France: around 80,000 euros for a stage start, 120,000 euros for a finish and 160,000 euros for both at the same time. For a Grand Départ, the bill is even steeper and runs into millions of euros. For small municipalities, these sums are very high, especially since we must add the maintenance or renovation of the roads, the installation of several kilometers of barriers, logistics… All these services also cost several tens of thousands of euros.
But municipalities are not the only ones to bear this cost: they are often helped by local authorities (towns, departments, regions) which also benefit from the economic benefits of the Tour. Indeed, town halls do not unconsciously ruin themselves: the Tour de France brings in much more money than it costs the towns through which it passes.
Nicolas Isnard, mayor of Salon-de-Provence, explained in 2017 in a BFMTV article: “The economic and media benefits are much greater than the investment made. The Tour organizer estimates that each visitor spends on average on the same day up to 30 euros on site. The Tour is also a fantastic advertisement for the town, its heritage, its landscape and therefore its tourism. Clearly, the passage of the Grande Boucle is an investment to boost tourism and trade.
The town of Albi, which hosted the Tour de France for three days in 2019, had commissioned a study to measure the benefits of passing the Grande Boucle. The city had paid exactly 501,899 euros in total. 300,000 euros were paid to ASO. Albi was in fact the city of arrival and departure and also hosted a day of rest between the two. And the municipality spent 201,899 euros on logistics and activities. But the event brought in three times more money than it cost: 1.548 million euros were spent by spectators during their visit. Enough to make the investment quite profitable.