Tour de France: Why the Alps are so special for France
Hugo reacts indignantly to the question of whether he does not see the Tour de France these days. "We are Bobos, alternative Parisians!" Says the young owner of the chic "Bar 50" in the 10th district of Paris. "We do not have a TV and we do not watch the Tour de France." Instead of the famous cycling race there is jazz music in the "Bar 50".
But then Hugo smiles and says he grew up in Brittany. Many stages have already taken place in this region. "As a Breton, I look at the tour then," says Hugo. "If possible, in the afternoon in my Parisian apartment before I open the bar, but this week I'm just watching the Alps." Why only the Alps? "Because everyone knows that you can lose the tour in the Pyrenees, but you can only win it in the Alps."
Currently, the race is in vogue again: 8.8 million French saw Saturday the mountain arrival of cyclists in the Pyrenees on their screens. The Alps stages of the next few days should be even more. This is not only because in the top of the favorites this year, two French with the current leader Julian Alaphilippe and pursuit Thibaut Pinot ride. It is located on the mountains - and the memories of many Frenchmen to them.
"In France, the Alps stand for freedom," says Christian Delorme, 68, a Catholic pastor in Lyon, in the foothills of the French Alps. "The height of the mountains, the open space, the pure air, the blue sky: all flee to the Alps to drop their loads," says Delorme, who is known in France for his work for immigrants. "Even the migrants from my community go to the Alps to discover their freedom." He even learned this from the Catholic scouts. But many more French people are learning it with the Tour de France. Like Hugo.
The purse is happy about the Tour de France
"When I was a kid, I saw the Tour de France on television through the Alps with my father," says the Parisian pub innkeeper. "There were no mountains in Brittany, so one day I said to my father, I'm going there."
The father then did not drive himself with Hugo into the Alps. But he enrolled him for a publicly funded holiday camp. Holiday camps in the summer belong to the life history of almost every Frenchman. They shape and most of them take place in the tour month of July. "Summer, summer camp, Tour de France, the Alps - all of this condenses into a playful-happy moment, a festive mood," says Rev. Delorme.
picture-alliance / DPA
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The television pictures of the many spectators at the roadside of the tour seem to confirm that. In the winter holidays this is different when the skiing season starts in the Alps, but the big crowds are missing. On average, a winter sports day costs 130 euros per person in France - ten percent of the French enjoy it. The Tour de France, on the other hand, costs the spectators almost nothing, and so the tour has introduced the French to the Alps long before winter sports.
Summit of freedom and history
In French history, the Alps were usually on the verge of events. Unless Napoleon and his troops crossed the mountains and conquered Italy. One of the most famous paintings in the Paris Louvre, painted in 1800 by the French revolutionary painter Jacques-Louis David, is called: "Bonaparte crossing the Alps at the Great Saint Bernard". But Savoy - the region in which the majority of the French Alps with the Mont Blanc is located and where the tour also climaxes this year - only counted towards France from 1860 and the unification of Italy.
7 imagesTour de France in the Alps: The mountain calls
"Only with the French resistance against the Nazis, which was strongest in the mountains, the Alps became the central place of the French history", say the Parisian film historian and television critic Daniel Psenny. Fortunately, today's opponents are no longer fighting for their lives, but for athletic titles. "The real luck has always been to win the yellow jersey, not to wear it," said 64-year-old Bernard Hinault, eight-time touring winner, recently of the sports paper L'Équipe. Where would that be better possible than in the mountains?