The Tour de France and the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift on the move for cycling as a means of transport

PARIS AND CYCLING  

This Tour de France marks the centenary of the victory of the first great French road cycling star, Henri Pélissier. Although he only won one Tour de France, the eldest of the three Pélissier brothers (the fourth, Jean, died in the 1914-1918 war) made a lasting impression with his panache, his personality and his fierce opposition to Henri Desgrange, the creator of the Tour de France, who remained his close enemy. Winner of ten Tour stages, 'La Ficelle' (The String) also won two Paris-Roubaix, three Tours of Lombardy, one Milan-San-Remo and one Paris-Tours. "Proud, stubborn, arrogant, provocative, touchy", according to Jacques Augendre, he opposed Desgrange's fussy rules from the very first of his eight Tours de France. The Tour's boss, who recognised in him "the greatest man the Tour has produced", criticised him for wasting his talent by not trying hard enough. Henri Pélissier's rebellious side reached its peak in 1924, when he dropped out with his brother Francis at Coutances and gave Albert Londres a famous interview in which he denounced the inhumane conditions of the Tour and the use of doping. He met a tragic end in 1935, when his partner, Camille Tharault, stabbed him to death. His younger brothers Francis and Charles also had brilliant careers. Francis was French road champion three times, and won Paris-Tours and two stages of the Tour. Charles won sixteen stages in the Tour de France.


SIGHTS  

Eiffel Tower and Champ de Mars
Construction: late 19th century. Architect: Gustave Eiffel.
History and characteristics: 324-m high, including the television aerial at the top. Built to mark the Universal Exhibition of 1889, which celebrated the centenary of the French Revolution. Studies began in 1884 and construction began in 1887. The flag was raised to the top on 31 March 1889, two years, two months and five days after work began. Today, it is the best-known symbol of Paris. It weighs 7,000 tonnes naked (50 tonnes of paint must be added every seven years). From the 3rd floor, the panorama stretches for a maximum of 67 km. Behind the tower are the Champ de Mars and the École Militaire.
Trivia: it remained the tallest tower in the world until 1930, when it was overtaken by the Chrysler skyscraper in Manhattan. 

Avenue des Champs-Élysées
Avenue des Champs-Élysées is located in the 8th arrondissement of Paris. It runs for 1,910 metres from east to west, linking Place de la Concorde and Place Charles-de-Gaulle (formerly Place de l'Étoile). In the lower part, to the east of the Champs-Élysées-Marcel-Dassault roundabout, the avenue is bordered by side-alleys (known as the "Champs-Élysées Promenade") running alongside the Champs-Élysées gardens. Originally, the Champs-Élysées were nothing more than uninhabited marshland. Marie de Medici decided to lay out a long avenue, Cours la Reine, which opened in 1616. Louis XIV, wishing to embellish and extend the capital, decided to demolish the fortifications and build large avenues. He commissioned André Le Nôtre to lay out this "avenue des Tuileries" as a royal thoroughfare through the woods and marshes along the Seine. From today's Place de la Concorde to today's Champs-Élysées roundabout, Le Nôtre laid out a beautiful avenue lined with elm trees and lawns. It was called "Grand-Cours" to distinguish it from Cours la Reine. The name Champs-Élysées was not definitively established until 1709. For a long time, the Champs-Élysées had a bad reputation. It was a place for guinguettes, attracting bad boys, prostitutes and even brigands. The popularity of the Champs-Élysées, which took its definitive name in 1789, did not really take off until the French Revolution. It was through the Champs-Élysées that the procession of shrews passed on their way to Versailles on October 5, 1789 to bring the royal family back to Paris. It was also via the Champs-Élysées that the royal family was brought back to Paris on 25 June 1791 after fleeing to Varennes, flanked by two rows of National Guards. At the 1855 World Fair, the Champs-Élysées became the place to be. While the avenue had only six houses in 1800, it was soon lined with blocks of flats, town houses and bourgeois homes. The Second Empire was a golden era for the Champs-Élysées. The avenue became the centre of elegant Parisian life. After falling into disrepair, the avenue was finally renovated in the early 1990s and inaugurated in September 1994 by Jacques Chirac, Mayor of Paris at the time. Every year since 1975, the final stage of the Tour de France has ended on the Champs-Élysées with a veritable parade after more than three weeks of racing.  

Arc de Triomphe
Construction: 1806 to 1836
Characteristics: The Arc de Triomphe stands in the centre of Place Charles-de-Gaulle. It is located in the axis and at the western end of Avenue des Champs-Élysées. Measuring 49.54-m high, 44.82-m wide and 22.21-m deep, it is run by the Centre des monuments nationaux. The monument weighs 50,000 tonnes (in fact 100,000 tonnes if you take into account the foundations, which sink to a depth of 8.37 m).
History: Napoleon I, the day after the battle of Austerlitz, declared to the French soldiers: "You will only return to your homes under triumphal arches". In an imperial decree dated February 18, 1806, he ordered the construction of this triumphal arch to perpetuate the memory of the victories of the French armies. Construction was completed between 1832 and 1836 by architect Guillaume-Abel Blouet. The Arc de Triomphe was inaugurated on 29 July 1836 to mark the sixth anniversary of the Trois Glorieuses (1830 revolution).
Special features: the Arc de Triomphe is one of the national monuments with a strong historical connotation. This importance has been reinforced since the remains of the Unknown Soldier, killed in the First World War, were buried there on January 28, 1921. Two years later, André Maginot, then Minister for War, supported the project to install a "flame of remembrance" there, which was lit for the first time on  November 11n 1923.
Listed as: Historical Monument since 1896.  

The Louvre
Foundation: converted into a museum in the 18th century. Inaugurated in 1793 as the Central Arts Museum of the Republic.
Characteristics: with an exhibition area of 72,735 m2, it is now the world's largest museum of art and antiquities. In 2018, with around 10.2 million visitors a year, the Louvre is the most visited museum in the world (and the most visited paying cultural site in France). Its collection comprises more than 550,000 works, and its most famous pieces include the Mona Lisa, the Venus of Milo, the Seated Scribe, the winged Victory of Samothrace and the Code of Hammurabi.
History: The international renown of the Louvre museum sometimes obscures the fact that it was originally designed as a palace. From the Middle Ages onwards, its evolution waś marked both by the events of French history and by the succession of architects and decorators who left their mark on it. Medieval castle, palace of the kings of France, museum since 1793, the Palais du Louvre has developed its architecture over more than 800 years.  

Pyramid of the Louvre
Construction: completed in 1989.
History: erected, in the centre of the Cour Napoléon, the glass pyramid is the work of Chinese-American architect Ieoh Ming Pei, ordered by French President François Mitterrand in 1983. Its creator died́ on 16 May 2019 in New York at the age of 102. A symbol of a museum open to the world, it celebrated its 30th anniversary throughout 2019 with a series of festive events. Before becoming one of the most admired buildings in the world, it was at the centre of a veritable quarrel between the old and the new. The introduction of a contemporary element into a context with a high heritage content did not go down well ... and yet.
Characteristics: taking up the exact proportions of the pyramid of Khufu at its base, it measures 35.42-m wide and 21.34-m high; 95 tonnes of steel and 105 tonnes of aluminium support the whole. When we think of the Pyramid, we think of the transparent architecture visible in the main courtyard, facing the Tuileries Gardens, but there are in fact five pyramids throughout the museum (including this one, three smaller ones, skylights and the inverted one visible in the basement). It is also a reminder of the museum's extensive collection of Egyptian antiquities, and of the Obelisk not far away on Place de la Concorde.  

Place de la Concorde
Construction: 1757 to 1763
History: originally known as Place Louis XV, it was renamed Place de la Révolution in 1792 (after the equestrian statue sculpted by Bouchardon was knocked over). Covering an area of 84,000 m2, it became the main place of execution during the Reign of Terror, where 1,119 people, including King Louis XVI and his wife Marie-Antoinette, were also executed.
Characteristics: around the square, eight statues represent eight French cities: Brest, Rouen, Lille, Strasbourg, Lyon, Marseille, Bordeaux and Nantes. Two fountains, inspired by those in St Peter's in Rome, were added to the square: the northern one, dedicated to river navigation, and the southern one, dedicated to maritime navigation. The pink granite obelisk was donated to France in 1831 by Mehmet Ali, Viceroy and Pasha of Egypt. The 23.39-m-high monument originally stood in the temple at Thebes (Luxor). Covered in hieroglyphs recounting the reigns of Ramses II and III, the base describes the technical means and tricks required to transport it and erect it on the square. The pyramidion (at the top) has been covered in gold leaf to restore its original appearance.
Special features: the horses of Marly are mounted on two columns on either side of the Avenue des Champs-Élysées. Sculpted by Nicolas and Guillaume Coustou, they were installed in 1795. In 1984, weakened, they were replaced by copies, in reconstituted marble. The originals are kept in the Louvre Museum. 

Grand Palais
Construction: 1897 to 1900.
Characteristics: the Grand Palais is a Parisian monument located on the Champs-Élysées, opposite the Petit Palais, from which it is separated by avenue Winston-Churchill, in the 8th arrondissement. Its 77,000 m2 are regularly used to host fairs and exhibitions.
History: the "Grand Palais des Beaux-Arts" was built for the World Fair scheduled to run from April to November 1900, replacing the vast but uncomfortable Palais de l'Industrie built in 1855. A "monument consecrated by the Republic to the glory of French art", as the pediment of the west wing (Palais d'Antin) indicates, its original purpose was to host the capital's major official artistic events. The Grand Palais has hosted major exhibitions as well as fairs (car shows, book fairs) and, above all, retrospectives as part of the National Galleries (Picasso, Monet, Renoir, Hopper). Two major restoration campaigns took place between 2000 and 2007 and since 2020 to enable the Grand Palais to host the fencing events of the 2024 Olympic Games. 
Special features: the Palace of Discovery at the 1937 World Fair was installed in the west wing of the Grand Palais. It was originally conceived as a temporary exhibition, but its success eventually led to it being housed in the west wing of the Grand Palais. Today, it is a veritable institution whose popularity has never waned.
Trivia: in the 1960s, Le Corbusier wanted to demolish the Grand Palais to replace it with the Museum of Twentieth-Century Art that André Malraux had commissioned him to design. The architect's death on 27 August 1965 put an end to the project.
Listed as: Historical Monument since 1975, then 2000.  

Sainte-Chapelle
Foundation: Built between 1242 and 1248
History: Saint Louis had the Sainte-Chapelle built at the heart of his Parisian residence, the Palais de la Cité. This Gothic-style church was built to house the relics of Christ's Passion, consisting of the Crown of Thorns and a piece of the Holy Cross. By acquiring the Holy Relics from the emperors of Constantinople, Louis IX increased the prestige of Paris worldwide, making it the second capital of Christendom. The relics cost three times as much as the church itself.
Characteristics: the sanctuary has two floors: the upper chapel, which only the king and his entourage could enter (this is where the holy relics were placed), and the lower chapel, which is much more discreet and less brightly lit, and was the place of worship for the palace staff. In the apse on the left, a 13th-century fresco of the Annunciation is still preserved; it is the oldest wall painting in the city.
Special feature: La Sainte-Chapelle is the jewel of the French Radiant Gothic style. With over a million visitors a year, it is the third most visited monument in France, after Mont Saint-Michel and the Arc de Triomphe, managed by the Centre des monuments nationaux.
Listed as: UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991. Historical Monument in 1840  

Palais Garnier
Construction: between 1862 and 1875
History: its construction was directed by Charles Garnier (1825-1898), 1st Grand Prix de Rome in 1848. It is the thirteenth opera house in Paris since the institution was founded by Louis XIV in 1669. Its construction was decided by Napoleon III as part of the major renovation work carried out in the capital under his orders by Baron Haussmann. It became the temple of dance, classical music and opera. Together with the Bastille Opera House, it forms the administrative structure of Opéra de Paris.
Characteristics: the grand staircase rises to a height of 30 m and, according to its architect, is the true heart of the theatre. A wide variety of marbles in white, grey, yellow, green, red, pink and violet and a profusion of colours in the statues: Garnier fought to impose polychromy in his Palais against the defenders of monochromy, led by Eugène Delacroix. The ceiling of the Opéra was completely renovated and reinvented in 1964 at the instigation of Minister of Culture André Malraux. Marc Chagall, 77, was commissioned to create the frescoes, which covered an area of 220 m² and took a year to complete. The painter was completely selfless and received no salary. The ceiling is characterised by its luminous colours and multitude of details and pays tribute to 14 major composers of opera and lyrical music.
Trivia: the opera houses a fire brigade of 20 firemen and a police station on duty day and night, manual sprinkler stations equipped with hoses in all parts of the theatre and, above all, a water tank that is completely evacuated every 20 years (48.27m by 37.57m wide, 2,400 m3, contained around a hundred or so pillars giving the firemen the possibility, by its location, of drawing from it and containing a fire outbreak more quickly and more effectively. This tank is the origin of the famous legend of an underground lake mentioned in Gaston Leroux's novel The Phantom of the Opera.)
Listed as: Historical Monument since 1923.    

Musée d'Orsay
The station was built in 1900. Museum opened in 1986.
Characteristics: museum inaugurated in 1986 and dedicated to the period 1848-1914 for all forms of artistic production
History: named after the former station where it is located. The latter, a railway station on the line from Les Invalides to the Quai d'Orsay in Paris-Austerlitz, was opened in May 1900 for the Paris to Orléans railway company and lasted 39 years. Designed by architect Victor Laloux (1850-1937), it was listed as a Historical Monument in 1978.  

Place de l'Hôtel de ville
Construction: 19th century.
History: in May 1871, during the Commune, the old town hall (dating from 1628) was burnt down. It took eight years to rebuild and was inaugurated in 1882. In winter, an ice rink is set up on the esplanade.
Trivia: the expression faire la grève (to go on strike) comes from the gatherings of unemployed workers on Place de Grève, as it was formerly known (formerly occupied by an old grève, a sort of beach made of sand and gravel, from which it was easy to unload goods arriving by the Seine), renamed Esplanade de la Libération on 22 April 2013, paying "homage to the Resistance fighters, the Free French, the Allies and all the insurgents who liberated Paris on the night of 24 to 25 August 1944".


TO EAT:  

Button mushrooms
Its real name is agaric bispore, and it was first cultivated under Louis XIV in Versailles, then under Napoleon in the catacombs of Paris. Hence its name in French: champignon de Paris. But it was only at the end of the 19th century that its cultivation developed, not in Paris, but in Touraine and the Saumur region. Because agaric bispore is the easiest mushroom to grow in a mushroom house, it quickly conquered the whole planet and is now produced mainly in China and the United States. 

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