Tour de France: Never-Before-Seen Historical Photos of the Race

Tour de France: Never-Before-Seen Historical Photos of the Race

The Tour de France is a beloved tradition in France dating back to 1903, when a bicycle race was first organized to increase newspaper sales. It has since become one of the most prestigious and popular sporting events in the world. Usually spanning a period of 3 weeks in July and August, it covers a distance of approximately 3,500 kilometers (2,200 miles) and is divided into 21 stages. Every year, cyclists from all over the world travel to France to compete, and millions of people line up along the route to watch.

As the race has been held for almost 100 years, many people who grew up in France have fond childhood memories of watching it — and some of those memories were caught on camera. Below, we’re excited to share some beautiful memories from MyHeritage users with stories about Tour de France in decades past.

La Villedieu-Les-Poêles (Manche), 1949

Sara Picazounearthed a couple of old family photos dating back to 1949. “While searching through my memories, I remembered some old photos I had from my maternal grandfather, Maurice Lottin,” says Sara. “I took them out of an album and saw on the inscriptions on the back that they were taken during the Tour de France in 1949 in La Villedieu-Les-Poêles (Manche). But I wonder how my grandfather could have been there, since he lived in Versailles his whole life. I asked my mother for an explanation and she knew absolutely nothing about it.”

Custodio Dos Reis competing in the Tour de France, 1949. Photo courtesy of Sara Picazo, colorized and enhanced by MyHeritage
Custodio Dos Reis competing in the Tour de France, 1949. Photo courtesy of Sara Picazo, colorized and enhanced by MyHeritage
Custodio Dos Reis competing in the Tour de France, 1949. Photo courtesy of Sara Picazo, colorized and enhanced by MyHeritage

“She was always amazed to see these photos because she didn’t know her father loved cycling so much, though she does recall that as a child, he told her from time to time about some cyclists’ exploits,” says Sara. “Still, we were not fans of cycling in the family. We never watched the Tour de France on television together.”

Jean Robic competing in the Tour de France, 1949. Photo courtesy of Sara Picazo, colorized and enhanced by MyHeritage
Jean Robic competing in the Tour de France, 1949. Photo courtesy of Sara Picazo, colorized and enhanced by MyHeritage
Jean Robic competing in the Tour de France, 1949. Photo courtesy of Sara Picazo, colorized and enhanced by MyHeritage

Sara recognizes her grandfather’s handwriting in the inscriptions on the back, and they indicate that the photos feature two stars of the Tour de France of 1949: Custodio Dos Reis and Jean Robic. “I knew nothing about them, so I looked them up on the internet. In short, they were cycling hotshots,” says Sara. She used MyHeritage In Color™ and the Photo Enhancer to colorize and enhance the photos.

“Thanks for giving me the opportunity to search for my grandfather’s old photos. I learned even more about him and about the 1949 Tour de France.”

The Pyrenees, c. 1952

Colette Fontaniéused to watch the Tour as