Dos and Don’ts of the Tour de France Travel

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

scenes from the tour de france july 2022

Alexander Aguiar

Cycling: Was this your first time as a spectator of the Tour de France?

Alexander Aguiar: In 2019, my mom and I went to the Tour de France. We had a lot of fun, so I was looking forward to going back (I want to go back for the third time). It doesn’t hurt that my mom is French. It was helpful to lean on her for her translations as I don’t speak the language very well. I have been to France other times with my mom; It’s also good to connect with my family’s heritage.

scenes from the tour de france july 2022

Alexander Aguiar

Cycling: Have you photographed other cycling races or just the Tour?

guide: The 2019 Tour was the first time I photographed any type of cycling. I shot it on film and I have a little regret that I didn’t shoot it with a digital camera… which motivated me to come back a second time. I don’t film the races too literally. I enjoy cycling and I find the Tour incredible, but I don’t know all the cyclists who compete, I don’t know all the teams and I don’t know all the statistics or classifications of each stage. Instead, I focus on embracing the event with an “outsider” point of view (although I love my CAAD13, I don’t consider myself a purist rider).

scenes from the tour de france july 2022

Alexander Aguiar

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

guide: We decided to go after the Tour route was published in October 2021. Once we decided on the days/venues, we booked through AirBNB and sites like Hotels.com. However, it was not necessary to book hotels as early as we did. We had issues with cancellations and incorrect AirBNB listings. We were able to find rooms for the same night.

Book your car and flights in advance. But for hotels, I suggest booking the first 2-3 nights of the trip in advance and leaving the rest up in the air. The original reservations I made weren’t as convenient as they could have been and added extra driving time on days that were already long. Things will work as long as you have a phone that can search the internet and make phone calls.

Riding a bike: So you got around by car, not a bike?

guide: We rented a car at 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 back to Paris and leaving the car at the nearest rental office. We saved about 5 hours of travel time back to Paris by doing that, which feels like a big deal when you’ve been driving non-stop for 10 days.

Occasionally you can park your car directly on the road used by the cyclists for the race. If road closures are a problem, write down a few miles of walking. There were several days where we walked 8-9 miles, but I think we walked more than the average hobbyist. Tour buses seem great if you want to take logistical work out of the equation. I can see that this is really valuable for larger families with children.

scenes from the tour de france july 2022

Alexander Aguiar

Riding a bike: What else would you do or not do, again?

guide: I would like to go with my own bike or rent a bike; that would be a game changer. Many fans bring their own bikes and ride the stages, which I appreciated more this year. Besides the cool factor of sharing routes with the best cyclists in the world, having a bike also makes it much easier to get from your car to a viewing area.

scenes from the tour de france july 2022

Alexander Aguiar

Photography lessons that Aguiar learned


do

  • Make friends with the locals. They are helpful with directions, viewing locations, and parking in cities. Offer them a portrait in return.
  • Bring a bike or rent one in France. Many fans ride the routes before each stage officially starts and help get to the venues when the roads are closed to cars or when parking is far away.
  • Stack baguettes, cheese and meats for easy meals on the go. They are cheap and tasty.
  • Get to places early. That way, you can meet other fans, wander around towns, take in the scenery, and claim your spot before it gets crowded.

    not to do

    • Don’t expect everything to go smoothly. Roads will be closed unexpectedly, GPS and directions may be wrong. You just have to go with the flow.
    • Don’t skimp on international cellular service. You’ll need it for Google Maps, unless you’re well versed in using real maps.
    • Don’t forget the insurance for your rental car! My first experience with TdF resulted in a faulty rental despite being careful with the car. Roads that are usually quiet are busy.
    • Don’t forget to take in some views and take the time to see the site away from the race.
    • Do not 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 out.

      → More scenes from the July 2022 Tour de France

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