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BC Randonneurs Cycling Club

Paris Brest Paris - History

The early PBPs were pro cycling races, but were also open to 'touristes-routiers' - i.e. cycle tourists, more or less equivalent to today's randonneurs. Paris Brest Paris was first run in 1891 and was originally held every 10 years [WW2: 1941 moved to 1948]. Starting in 1951 it changed to every 5 years, and then to every 4 years starting in 1971. The final race version of PBP was in 1951. After that it became exclusively a randonneur event. In 1931 Audax Club Parisien began organizing a randonneur/ cyclo-tourist version of PBP alongside the race - the 5th PBP became PBP no. 1 in the current ACP numbering.

Between 1931 and 1971 the Union des Audax Parisiens [succeeded by Union des Audax Français] organized a parallel audax version of PBP. After 1971 the audax PBP continued to be run every five years. The audax PBPs are not covered in these pages [except some photos, mainly from 1976, here, and a historical participation table here].


In addition to the articles about PBP's history (below), find historical PBP material elsewhere on this site, including in these sections:
Photos - Articles - Books & Collections - Plaquettes - Time Results - Historical Stats Tables - Stories -

Historical Articles (In English), Core articles:

A Short History of Paris-Brest-Paris (1999) by Bill Bryant [Highly Recommended]
Brestward Ho! (1971) by J.B. Wadley (A PBP rider's story which also explores PBP's history - Internal link) [Highly Recommended]
History of PBP: Racing and Touring (2006?) by Robert Lepertel & others [An up-dating of the 1986 article, for posting on the official PBP web site] [Recommended]
Audax UK's History of Paris Brest Paris, 2003, author not indicated
[Recommended] *(web.archive)
A History of Paris - Brest - Paris: The Professional Race (a translation by Ken Dobb, Randonneurs Ontario, of an article in Cyclo Touristes Maurepas here) [Recommended]
History of Paris-Brest-Paris by Phil McCray (1987) from the Journal of the International Randonneurs, Edition 1989, pages 4-17 (Internal link) [Recommended]
A History of Paris-Brest-Paris by Max Leonard (2015) Strava Blog
The History of Paris Brest Paris (no author indicated) reprinted from AUK (with additions by Audax Australia from 1999 and 2014) [saved version]
PBP - How the Big Tent of Randonneuring Came About by Jan Heine (2015) from the Summer 2015 issue of American Randonneur

Other Articles in English:

Alternate version of above: History of PBP: Racing and Touring (1986) by Robert Lepertel [translated by Johnny Bertrand] (Internal link)
Alternate version of above: History of PBP: Racing and Touring (1986) by Robert Lepertel [translated by Johnny Bertrand] (Alternate posting: on Randonneurs Ontario site)
A synopsis of Phil McCray's article "PBP -- 1891 to 1991" (1989), posted by Henry Kingman
Paris-Brest-Paris Wikipedia
A short history of PBP by Gary Smith (on Adrian Hands' cycling pages)
A Bit of PBP History by Gary Smith (on a page by Matthew Chachère - half way down)
1951 - Short Summary (author unknown)

Elsewhere on the BC Randonneurs web site there is a section with links and on-site articles focusing on Randonneur Cycling history more broadly: Randonneur History.

Historical Articles (en français):

Paris-Brest et retour, c'était l'Himalaya... (1991) possibly by Pierre Chany (A history of the race PBPs from l'album 91 du Cyclisme) (Internal link)
Les Grandes Épreuves Cyclists Sur Route (A history of the first 3 PBPs in the Sept. 1 issue of "Le Miroir Des Sport" on the eve of the 1921 PBP race.) (Internal link)
Le Cyclisme: Paris-Brest (a chapter from the 1912 book Le Cyclisme, dealing with the first three PBPs (Internal link)
Paris-Brest-Paris : le centenaire à la pêche by Jean-Michel RICHEFORT, in LE CYCLE No. 174, Janvier 1991, pp 58-60 (A retrospective published before the centenary event)

Histoire de PBP - Coureurs et Randonneurs (~2006) by Robert Lepertel & others [An up-dating of a 1986 article for posting on the official PBP web site] *(web.archive)
(Internal link to text copied from the ACP web site)

Historical Articles (Other Languages):

Vinderen af pbp 1891 Charles Terront - Løbshistorie ( in Danish) *(web.archive)
organisiert vom AUDAX CLUB PARISIEN mit der Unterstützung der Kontroll-Städte (in German) *(web.archive)

The Bibliography from Bill Bryant's A Short History of Paris-Brest-Paris:

Plaquettes published by the Audax Club Parisien following the 1979, 1983, 1987, 1991, 1995, and 1999 PBP events
The Journal of the International Randonneurs, 1989 and 1990 editions
Coups de Pedals, Hors Série No. 2 (history of PBP races), Belgium, 1991
History of PBP: Racing and Touring by Robert Lepertel, Audax Club Parisien, 1986
A Brief History of the ACP by Robert Lepertel, Audax Club Parisien, 1996
Audax-UK Handbook, Year 2000
Paris-Brest et Retour by Bernard Déon, 1997
Old Roads and New by J. B. Wadley, 1971
14e Paris-Brest-Paris: L'Epopée Fantastique, Cyclo-Passion magazine, October, 1999
Charles Terront & Paris-Brest-Paris by Andrew Ritchie, On The Wheel magazine, issues #10-12, 1999
La Saga du Tour de France by Serge Laget, 1990
Cyclotourisme magazine, Hors Série, No. 395 (1991 PBP special issue), France
Géants de la Route by Jean Durry, 1973


*(web.archive) = This article is off line at original location. It was retrieved using the wayback machine at web.archive.org.


Broken links that are not available through web.achive.org :

La légende de Paris-Brest-Paris (Extraits de "Un siècle de cyclisme", Hervé Paturle-Guillaume Rebière, Calman-Lévy)

HISTORIQUE SOMMAIRE DE PARIS-BREST-PARIS CYCLOTOURISTE par Genevieve et Jean-Gualbert Faburel? based on Bernard Déon's book?