Maps and views blog

Cartographic perspectives from our Map Librarians

18 September 2020

Fan-tastic way to keep cool

With the 2020 Tour de France coming to a head in Paris this weekend (20th September) the final stage is expected to be a very different affair without the usual cheering crowds so I thought I’d mark the occasion by writing a blog about a very peculiar and unusual item from our Maps collection, Eventail cycliste, Bois de Boulogne, Paris et ses environs (Maps C.24.e.27).


Eventail cycliste, Bois de Boulogne, Paris et ses environs. Leon Pouillot. Published in Paris by Hugo D'Alesi, ca. 1895. Maps C.24.e.27.

This awesome cartographic fan specifically designed for cyclists was produced around 1895, almost a decade before the first Tour de France race took place. It features a series of three maps of Paris drawn to different scales, one of which shows Paris and its environs and indicates recommended cycling routes. The map contains helpful details indicating whether the roads are paved or ordinary as well as distinguishing between the uphill and downhill routes. Train stations are also shown - very handy in case of a flat tyre emergency!


Detail: Map showing environs of Paris with cycling routes 

On the reverse of the fan there is a map of Bois de Boulogne, a popular spot for Parisian cyclists at the turn of the century. In Jean Beraud's painting Le Chalet du cycle au bois de Boulogne (circa 1900) the popularity of cycling can be seen, one can just imagine such a fan being used as a fashionable accessory by one of the elegant figures in his painting.


Verso of Eventail cycliste... featuring map of Bois de Boulogne. Paris, Hugo D'Alesi, ca. 1895. Maps C.24.e.27. 

On the final leg scheduled to take place this Sunday cyclists will cover a distance of 76 miles riding from Mantes-la-Jolie to Paris. If you take a closer look at the map depicting the street layout of the French capital you will be able to plot the route through central Paris all the way to the famous finish line on the Champs-Élysées. 


Detail: Map showing centre of Paris 

Perhaps a new tradition could be established - along with the trophy, future winners could be presented with a facsimile of the fan, surely a welcome gift after such a long ride. Wishing all the competitors the best of luck on Sunday!