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Cycling and the Ancien Regime(2 posts)

Cycling and the Ancien Regimems
Oct 9, 2003 5:47 PM
I had thought that most of the nobility of France had been exterminated during the Revolution and the remnants became extinct after the demise of the Second Empire. However, neighbors invited my wife and me to dinner with visitors from France -- an alleged Count and Countess. I do not know if their titles are bona fide, but they, at least, tried to convey the image that they were part of the Ancien Regime.

My initial impression of the Comte and Comtesse was not good -- and the impression went from bad to worse when our hostess tried to spark the conversation by her mentioning that I had been to France to see the Tour and had ridden in France. It was clear from the less than polite reaction by the Comte and Comtesse that they viewed my interest in cycling as being far beneath them or anyone with whom they would associate. They became even more disdainful of me when I responded in the negative about my having any interest in golf. Even though I have no interest in baseball, I think that I could show some interest in and appreciation of someone from abroad who had an interest in Baseball (probably the closest American analogy to cycling in terms of its position in the national psyche) and had come to the US to watch the World Series. Although one "noble" couple may not be representative of all of their kind, they were the first French citizens that I ever have encountered that were less than enthusiastic about cycling (or at least the Tour). Others have remarked that the social status of cycling in France is akin to that of NASCAR in the United States. I guess that my experience confirms the remark. Until this week I had thought that the Revolution was excessive in its treatment of the nobility (probably influenced by my reading a Tale of Two Cities at too young an age). Now, I think that the Reign of Terror may not have gone far enough.
Reply from a Frenchwomanvindicator
Oct 10, 2003 12:27 PM
I asked a Frenchwoman, a doctor who lives near Bagnols, to offer her thougts on this. Here's her reply (some editing, but I didn't correct all the spelling, grammar, and translation):

Nobles exist in France,they came from nobles exiled in Germany for the Revolution...Streotypically,they are "snob" and they prefer to play golf than to watch Tour de France!Yes,cycling is a popular sport as soccer. Many people of Bagnols (and another cities in France) enjoy cycling as sport or hobby, and they belong to cycling association, they practise cycling every sunday or saturday making one hundred kilometer(at least)an afternoon! Tour de France is very,very popular; families are able to camp along the road to see Lance Amstrong himself and others...Soccer is the most popular sport in France,after is cycling,after are rugby,athletism,judo.,moto,tennis..Golf is a sport only for rich people, as rally(cars)(do you know a famous rally called le Paris Dakar?), formule one (only europeans are able to understand subtilities of a race of Formule One with Schumacher and Ferrari as winners)
My son is journalist(amateur not professional) for a web site about cycling ,a kind of cycling called BMX, a not very popular kind of free style sport,for young urban people...Japaneses and americans love this sport....according to articles written by my son!