Reading material is getting skinny here in the hills of Nimes, so I found myself laying on the couch this afternoon perusing a history of French cuisine. As happens from time to time in France, I found a link to cycling!
You might know Paris-Brest, the oldest long-distance cycling event in the world. Or you might not because it hasn’t been run as a ‘race’ since the 1950s. It is still there, though, every four years (next one in 2023), so if you’d like to ride 1200 km in one shot (Paris-Brest-Paris), you’ve got a year to train.
The original race was created in 1891 by, of course, a newspaper: Le Petit Journal. Back in the days when newspapers actually existed there were eras when competition was ferocious. The late 19th century was one of these times and newspaper owners were always looking for the upper hand. The immensely popular cycling race was a good way to do so. The Tour de France was actually born from P-B because Henri Desgrange (father of the TDF) saw how well Le Petit Journal sold around the time of the race and decided to run his own and try his luck.
And then there’s this:
Legend has it that Pierre Giffard (editor of Le Petit Journal) asked a patissier friend of his to create a special dessert for the race. Thus was born the Paris-Brest, available at any self-respecting patisserie in France. I hesitate to say the obvious, but you can see it’s shaped like a wheel. Otherwise, this pastry flecked with almond slices and filled with praline cream is pretty yummy. You might need to ride from Paris to Brest to burn off the calories, but isn’t that half of the reason we ride anyway?