Tour de France 2017 : le Tour et l’Europe [fr]
As 2017 is the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome which established the European Economic Community, the ongoing “Le Tour et l’Europe” exhibition tells the fundamentally European story of the Tour de France and shows how civil society has often been a precursor to this movement seeking to cultivate friendship between peoples and peace on the continent.
On 1 July 2017, the Tour de France riders will set off from Düsseldorf. Between then and 23 July, they will travel through 34 French departments and visit three neighbouring countries, cheered on all the way by 10 million spectators, of whom 20% will be non-French, mostly Europeans, as well as millions of fans around the world.
The Grande Boucle, as it is also known, has a huge international following and is an opportunity to promote the parts of France and Europe through which it passes, the sportspeople, and the values of sharing inherent in sport.
In its first edition in 1903, Germans, Belgians and Italians raced alongside Frenchmen, joined in subsequent years by riders from many other countries (Luxembourg, UK, Denmark, Mexico, Australia, etc.).
The number of stages in neighbouring countries has gradually increased, and the Grande Boucle has, among other places, passed through Ghent, Luxembourg, Aosta, Maastricht, Berlin and Utrecht. This year, the riders will begin in Germany and will also pass through Belgium and Luxembourg.
Two years before the fall of the Berlin Wall, 207 cyclists from Europe and around the world peacefully defied this “Wall of Shame”, a symbol of the Cold War and a Europe split in two. It was this year that for the first time, an Eastern European, Lech Piasecki from Poland, wore the famous yellow jersey.
This second stage of the 2015 Tour de France ran along the North Sea, highlighting the beauty of the Dutch countryside. Cycling through water is also one of the unexpected joys of the Tour de France!
In 1958, Brussels was an essential stage on a very European Tour de France. A year after the signing of the Treaty of Rome, which made it the capital of the EEC, Brussels received visitors from around the world for the first World’s Fair since World War II. The Atomium, built specially for the event, is today one of the symbols of Brussels, at the heart of Europe.
Two years after World War II, the Tour de France resumed in 1947 after a break between 1940 and 1946, marking the European reconciliation process, with stages in Belgium and Luxembourg. The Tour de France was back, and once again happily crossing borders !