The Tour de France, 1903-1998

Tour de france front cover

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  • Title: The Tour de France, 1903-1998: A Window on Twentieth-Century French Cultural History
  • Author(s): Keiran J. Dunne
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: Sport & Society
  • Year: 2013
  • ISBN (pbk): 978-1-61229-200-7
  • ISBN (pdf): 978-1-61229-201-4
  • DOI:
  • Citation: Dunne, Keiran J.. 2013. The Tour de France, 1903-1998: A Window on Twentieth-Century French Cultural History. Champaign, IL: Common Ground Research Networks. doi:10.18848/978-1-61229-201-4/CGP.
  • Extent: 345 pages


This book proposes a cultural history of the Tour de France in five chapters corresponding to five periods: the Period of Invention (1903–29); the Rejuvenation of the Tour (1930–39); the “Golden Age” of the Tour (1947–61); Television and “Stagflation” (1962–82); and France in the European Union and the Global Village (1983–98). This periodization reflects important shifts in four categories: (1) the presentation of the Tour, which encompasses the actual race route itself, as well as the riders and infrastructure of the race; (2) representations of the race in different media (the press, radio and television, literature) as well as in monuments; (3) cultural practices associated with the Tour; and (4) discourses about nation and values. Control of evidence for larger political and cultural change is provided by comparing the discourse about the Tour to official political discourse. A representative edition of the Tour has been chosen for each period and is examined as a case study. By placing these case studies in a larger context, and by treating chapters as elements of a series, this book traces important shifts and provides new insights into the transformation of French culture over the course of the 20th century.