by Katie Pelo
This article is an interview with Jean-Marie Leblanc, who is a former Tour de France racer and who was also the general director of the Tour de France from 1989 to 2005.
The interview begins with him explaining how the media coverage has changed over the years. He says that it has been a transition from written press to radio to now television. These were the three golden periods for the Tour de France. Before TV, there was a magic about the Tour because journalists “had only fleeting perceptions of the race or had reports told to them which were perhaps themselves already exaggerated,” so the stories became epic and romanced. With radio, there was a magic that came along with live commentary and it became very popular since there wasn’t a large supply of sports of leisure activity. With television, they showed “not only the Tour de France but also the tour of France as a country.”
There was a new hierarchy created at Club Meds, even though they tried to be the ‘“antidote to civilization.”’ GMs tended to be white, economically advantaged Europeans and some Americans. They were also generally young and were in the middle salary sectors. Natives of Club Med locations tended to be workers and rarely were vacationers. As stated, “Club Med was, in this sense, a reconfigured colonialist adventure that could be purchased.”
Club Med was thriving during a pivotal time in French history, 1930-70, when vacations were being established as a political right. Paid vacation time became available to a much wider range of citizens, and mass vacations became very popular. Vacations became a right that people were very protective of, “leisure time and paid vacations were deeply implicated in cultural and labor politics, as well as in struggles over ideological systems, during the interwar period.” Vacations for all then became one of France’s most proud accomplishments. The article concludes with Furlough saying that vacations became more democratic and organized. They also helped to keep social privileges and entitlements.