France’s prestigious Tour de France cycle race began this weekend and Le Point has decided to look at why no French cyclist has won the competition since 1985.
It writes that “that is the 1,000-franc question”. Yes, franc, because that was the currency in place when Bernard Hinault enjoyed a yellow-clad celebration on the Champs Elysées.
“What curse has deprived the French public from celebrating the victory of a tricolour rider?” continues Le Point in reference to the colours of the French flag. Since 1947 the French have triumphed 21 times with nine different riders with the numbers on French nationals on the steps of the podium gradually dwindling.
Foreigners, drugs, boot camps
According to the article, the decline of victorious French nationals is down to a number of factors: firstly the internationalisation of the Tour De France in the 1980s, which brought in a higher number of competitors. The 2017 race saw 32 different nationalities take part.
According to Le Point, “The French runners were a little late to the drug enhancing party”.
In post-World War II France, the magazine also notes, many of the French cyclists were from agricultural backgrounds.
At the time there were 6,3 million people in farming and related occupations in France, 27 percent of the active population, whereas today there are only 500 000.
The weekly looks into other socio-economic factors, such as the growth of the middle class and higher education levels and a decrease in cycling culture among the working class in favour of football.
“For France to be in with a chance of winning the Tour de France, today’s youth, some coming from parents of African origin, would have to pick up the passion for cycling. Perhaps the future champion will come from one of our council estates,“ concludes Le Point, adding “Unless [this year’s French favourite] Romain Bardet proves the statistic wrong. Allez Bardet!”
Paris mayor divides opinion
Satirical paper Le Canard Enchainé gives Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo a bit of a roasting for spending more time playing up to the international press, who generally give a positive spin on whatever she does.
That is not necessarily the case here in France, where she divides opinion, thanks, among others matters, to the city’s six-billion-euro debt, the rise of Paris’s rat population and the problems that have beset the city's bike and electric car-sharing schemes across the capital.
Her inner circle often accused her detractors of being “racist” (she’s half Spanish) or “misogynist”, Le Canard says. One of her close collaborators says she gets “stick the way only a woman would”. That may be true, according to the article's author, who is herself female, but staff at the Mairie De Paris are finding it increasingly hard to work with Hidalgo, complaining that she fails to respond to many of their concerns and that many of her decisions seem to be last-minute reactions, based on PR considerations.
A Socialist female friend of Hidalgo tells the paper she is now shunned by the mayor after daring to offer some constructive criticism. Le Canard Enchainé notes that supporters of French President Emmanuel Macron are delightedly waiting in the wings.
Slowing down key to happiness
A number of magazines have dedicated their lead stories this week to the pursuit of happiness.
Marianne says we should be living at a slower pace at school, around the dinner table, in politics, in love, in business and on the internet.
Meanwhile, L’Obs has the “new formula for happiness”, which involves fasting meditating, cooking and kissing trees. Don’t laugh, in Japan, the latter has been done for thousands of years. Worth a try, surely?