Tour De France - Culture

Culture

The Tour is important for fans in Europe. Millions line the route, some having camped a week to get the best view. The journalist Pierre Chany wrote:

The Tour de France has the major fault of dividing the country, the smallest hamlets, even families, into rival factions. I know a man who grabbed his wife and held her on the grill of a lighted stove, sitting with her dress pulled up, to punish her for favouring Jacques Anquetil while he admired Raymond Poulidor. The following year, the woman became a Poulidoriste, but too late: the husband had changed his allegiance to Felice Gimondi. The last I heard, they were digging their heels in and the neighbours were complaining. —

The Tour de France appealed from the start not just for the distance and its demands but because it played to a wish for national unity, a call to what Maurice Barrès called the France "of earth and deaths" or what Georges Vigarello called "the image of a France united by its earth."

The image had been started by the 1877 travel/school book Le Tour de la France par deux enfants. It told of two boys, André and Julien, who "in a thick September fog left the town of Phalsbourg in Lorraine to see France at a time when few people had gone far beyond their nearest town."

The book sold six million copies by the time of the first Tour de France, the biggest selling book of 19th century France (other than the Bible). It stimulated a national interest in France, making it "visible and alive", as its preface said. There had already been a car race called the Tour de France but it was the publicity behind the cycling race, and Desgrange's drive to educate and improve the population, that inspired the French to know more of their country.

The academic historians Jean-Luc Boeuf and Yves Léonard say most people in France had little idea of the shape of their country until L'Auto began publishing maps of the race. They wrote:

At the start of the 20th century, the French were still largely ignorant (connaissent encore très mal) of the geography of their country. Maps were rare and little used, even at school. The physical shape of France and its contours remained an unknown for most Frenchmen ... Efforts to interest school children in the image in general and maps in particular were in vain. The book Tour de France par Deux Enfants didn't have a map of France before its 1905 edition, by which time it had sold seven million copies. — By the maps of France, the Tour de France became at the same time a teacher, in printing a map of the contours of the country—which was rare at least until the Great War – and populist in portraying France as a hexagon, a France not only amputated from 1903 of its "lost provinces" but also its overseas possessions and Corsica, never visited in a century and still missing from maps of the Tour de France. —

Eugen Weber, in the foreword to Tour de France: 1903–2003 says:

The Tour contributed more to France than new-model heroes. It put flesh on the bones of values taught in school but seldom internalized: effort, courage, determination, stoic endurance of pain, and even fair play. It familiarized a nation with its geography. It brought life, activity, excitement into small towns where very little happened; it introduced a festive atmosphere wherever it passed; and it acquainted provincial backwaters with spectacular displays previously available only in big cities. —

The Tour de France has also given the language a word for a popular but persistent loser. Raymond Poulidor never won the Tour de France but was more popular than his rival, Jacques Anquetil, who won five times and unfailingly beat him. Poulidor is now associated with bad luck or a hard life, as an article by Jacques Marseille showed in Le Figaro when it was headlined "This country is suffering from a Poulidor Complex".

Read more about this topic:  Tour De France

Other articles related to "culture":

Vandalism - As Art
... is illegal, it is often also an integral part of modern popular culture ... Friedrich Nietzsche himself meditated about the "fight against culture", wondering what could justify culture if it were to be destroyed in such a "senseless" manner (the ... In this case, culture cannot be legitimised by art achievements, and Nietzsche writes "I {also} know what it means fighting against culture" ...
KAIST - Academics - Colleges - College of Cultural Science
... The College of Culture and Science is composed of two departments School of Humanities and Social Sciences and Graduate School of Culture and Technology ... The Graduate School of Culture and Technology also provides master and doctoral degree programs for the purpose of producing manpower of the nation’s cultural industry with support of the Ministry of. 40 lecturers), the Graduate School of Culture and Technology also has 4 full-time faculties, 5 visiting professors, 7 adjunct professors, and 89 master students ...
Yayoi Period - Features of Yayoi Culture
... Yayoi culture quickly spread to the main island of Honshū mixing with native Jōmon culture ... This was possible due to the introduction of an irrigated, wet-rice culture from the Yangtze estuary in southern China via the Ryukyu Islands or Korean Peninsula ...

Famous quotes containing the word culture:

    The treatment of African and African American culture in our education was no different from their treatment in Tarzan movies.
    Ishmael Reed (b. 1938)

    Here is this vast, savage, howling mother of ours, Nature, lying all around, with such beauty, and such affection for her children, as the leopard; and yet we are so early weaned from her breast to society, to that culture which is exclusively an interaction of man on man,—a sort of breeding in and in, which produces at most a merely English nobility, a civilization destined to have a speedy limit.
    Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862)

    The higher, the more exalted the society, the greater is its culture and refinement, and the less does gossip prevail. People in such circles find too much of interest in the world of art and literature and science to discuss, without gloating over the shortcomings of their neighbors.
    Mrs. H. O. Ward (1824–1899)