Australia, New Zealand & the South Pacific The Need for Speed


Welcome to the World’s Greatest Races

 

What is it about competition that captivates us? There’s something inherently timeless, forever stimulating to not only the ecstasy of victory, but the thrill of the contest itself. And of course, before there were touchdowns, slam dunks and grand slams—there was speed.

While the rush of life is intoxicating in its own right, witnessing it is just as potent: seeing a blur of magnificence streak by, holding your breath as competitors bear down on the finish line, to have your skin crawl with static while the crowd thunders and cameras flash in a moment larger than life.

We’ll highlight the prize-winning events well worth the watch, so that you can be off to the races to discover them for yourself. These top-tier events give you a golden opportunity to travel to some of the world’s most unique destinations, allowing you to treasure a trove of memorable experiences during your trip.

MELBOURNE CUP

Down under on the other side of the world, the Melbourne Cup offers a similar spectacle, with its own unique twists and takes. Sure, at the heart of it all is a horse race, yet the spirit of the race is nothing like the name-brand counterparts found in America: the horses here are handicapped based on a myriad of factors. With the better horses carrying more weight, suddenly first place is anyone’s claim. This egalitarian approach makes for larger-than-life moments: every horse is an avatar of opportunity, the champion of a fair chance at life to the millions of eyes watching. It’s no wonder the Melbourne Cup is colloquially known as “The Race that Stops the Nation,” because it literally consumes the public consciousness.

With just about all of Australia stopping to watch this national event, you can imagine that the festivities are immense, but your imagination doesn’t do it justice. The entire week of the Melbourne Cup is known as “Cup Week,” and while office parties abound all over the country, the city of Melbourne is all-in on celebrating. For seven days straight, the Melbourne Cup Carnival offers a hefty helping of fashion, entertainment and excitement. Dawn your sleekest frocks and classiest jackets for the chance to win $400,000 at the Myer Fashions on the Field, feast on the delicacies of pop-up stalls from some of Australia’s most acclaimed restaurants and catch musical performances from major artists while in The Park. As fun as it is, it’s all warm-up for the thrill of the race itself.

TOUR DE FRANCE

Make no mistake, the Tour de France is not just one of the most impressive races to witness, but by far and away one of the most impressive events undertaken by man. The drive, dedication and athleticism on display as the riders fly through backroads, quaint countryside towns and up steep mountain slopes is enough to astound; add in the compelling personal narratives and rivalries that develop over the course of the race and it’s no wonder France (and the rest of the world) is utterly enamored.

Of course, while the Tour may be a national icon and source of pride, there are plenty of other French staples to consider savoring, such as touring vineyard after catching a stage or two. With the conclusion of the race happening in Paris, you’d be remiss to not stroll through the magnificent Musée du Louvre or enjoy pastries and lattes at Parisian coffee shops. Of course, these experiences should take second place to the scene of the riders crossing the finish line. That evening may need to be blocked off from your planning as well, as the entire city will be ready to celebrate.

PARTNER'S POV

“At the departure village, Découvertes can get you special access to the sign-in area where the pro teams arrive to start the race and where media, event officials, and former pros gather prior to the stage start. You’ll enjoy breakfast with the Tour de France VIP and participate in the pro training inside the team area. You’ll be part of the atmosphere while seeing the caravan departure—it’s a great chance to meet some of the legends of cycling!”

– Maude Chemin, Découvertes