A seasoned photographer shares some Tour de France travel tips

Miami-based photographer Alexander Aguiar traveled to France for the 2022 edition of the Tour de France. He shares some of his favorite images with us, along with travel tips and photography do’s and don’ts. Pro tip: go with your mother (if your mother speaks French).

Alexandre Aguiar

Cycling: Was this the first time you attended the Tour de France?

Alexandre Aguiar: In 2019, my mother and I went to the Tour de France. We had a lot of fun so there was an itch to come back (I have an itch for the third time). It doesn’t hurt that my mother is French. It was useful to rely on her for translations because I don’t speak the language very well. I went to France other times with my mother; it’s also nice to connect with my family’s heritage.

scenes from the tour de france july 2022

Alexandre Aguiar

Cycling: Did you photograph other cycling races or just the Tour?

Aguiar: The 2019 Tour was the first time I photographed any type of cycling. I shot it on film, and I kinda regret not having shot it on digital… which motivated me to go back a second time. I don’t take the races too literally. I love cycling and I find the Tour incredible, but I don’t know all the riders who participate, I don’t know all the teams and I don’t know all the statistics or the classification of each stage. Instead, I focus on embracing the event from an “outside” perspective (although I love my CAAD13, I don’t consider myself a cycling purist).

scenes from the tour de france july 2022

Alexandre Aguiar

Bike: When did you book your trip? Where did you stay ?

Aguiar: We decided to go after the Tour itinerary was published in October 2021. Once we decided on the days/locations, we booked through AirBNB and sites like Hotels.com. However, there was no need to book hotels as soon as we did. We had issues with cancellations and incorrect AirBNB listings. We were able to find rooms for the same evening.

Book your car and flights early. But for hotels, I suggest pre-booking the first 2-3 nights of the trip and leaving the rest up to date. The initial reservations I made were not as convenient as they could have been and added extra driving time to already long days. Things will work as long as you have a phone that can search the internet and make phone calls.

Bike: So you traveled by car, not by bike?

Aguiar: We hired a car from Charles De Gaulle airport when we arrived, and I would recommend doing the same. But it makes more sense to end the trip by taking a train to Paris and leaving the car at the nearest rental agency. We saved about 5 hours driving back to Paris by doing this, which seems like a big hassle when you’ve been driving nonstop for 10 days.

Sometimes you can park your car directly on the road that cyclists use for racing. If road closures are a problem, walk a few miles. There were several days where we walked 8-9 miles, but I think we walked more than the average fan. Tour buses seem perfect if you want the logistical work taken out of the equation. I can see this being really valuable for large families with children.

scenes from the tour de france july 2022

Alexandre Aguiar

Cycling: What else would or wouldn’t you do, again?

Aguiar: I would like to go with my own bike or rent a bike; that would be a game changer. Lots of fans bring their own bikes and ride the stages, which I really enjoyed this year. Apart from the interesting factor of sharing routes with the best cyclists in the world, having a bike also makes it easier to get your car to a viewing area.

scenes from the tour de france july 2022

Alexandre Aguiar

Aguiar Learned Photography Lessons


To do

  • Be friendly with the locals. They are useful for directions, viewing locations, and parking in cities. Offer them a portrait in exchange.
  • Bring a bike or rent one in France. Many fans walk the routes before the official start of each stage, and they help get to places where the roads are closed to cars or where parking is far away.
  • Stack baguettes, cheese and meat for easy meals on the go. They are cheap and tasty.
  • Arrive at the pitches early. This way you can meet other fans, stroll through towns, take in the scenery and claim your spot before things get crowded.

    Not

    • Don’t expect everything to go well. Roads will be closed unexpectedly, GPS and addresses may be incorrect. Just go with the flow.
    • Don’t skimp on international cell service. You’ll need it for Google Maps unless you’re well versed in using real maps.
    • Don’t forget the insurance for your car rental! My first TdF experience ended in a rental bang despite being careful with the car. Usually quiet roads are very busy.
    • Don’t forget to take advantage of a few viewpoints and take the time to see the site away from the race.
    • Don’t arrive without a language translator. You can use Google, a friend (or mom) who knows French, or brush up on your own French before you go

      → More scenes from the Tour de France of July 2022

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