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Audax Club Parisien is a cycling club founded in Paris in 1904. It organises long-distance challenge rides in France and administers a branch of cycling known as randonneuring around the world. A randonnée in cycling is a challenge to ride distances up to more than 1,000km between a minimum and maximum speed. The most prestigious event is Paris-Brest-Paris, which the Audax Club Parisien organises every four years.


In April 1904, Henri Desgrange, the editor of the French daily sports paper, L'Auto, organised a 200km ride from Paris to Gaillon and back, a course that riders had to cover at an average 18 kmh in groups led by so-called captains of the road. Desgrange had the idea from a similar event in Italy. The Italians had called it an Audax, based on the word "audace" meaning "audacious"[1], and Desgrange adopted the name.

The event was a sufficient success that those who rode it and others formed the Audax Club Parisien on 30 November 1904. It was a non-profit organisation "to encourage the development of long-distance touring by bicycle, to educate cyclists, to turn them into ardent cycle-tourists and hardened randonneurs, and to organise excursions." The headquarters was at the café du Veaudeville at 29 rue Vivienne, Paris. The formation of the club was announced in the journal of the French Republic on 28 December 1904.

In 1906, the ACP gave the job of organising brevet rides - so called after the card, or brevet, that riders had signed along the route to show they had ridden the distance - to Desgrange. There came a row, however, that led Desgrange to take over the Audax movement for himself. The first reason was that the ACP ran an event called the Polymultipliée de Chanteloup, one of several competitions popular at the time to show whether a derailleur gear, then not in wide use, or a single gear was superior over a range of courses. The ACP formed a partnership for its competition with L'Echo des Sports, a rival to Desgrange's 'L'Auto. The second reason was that the road captains were accused of no longer respecting the 18 kmh average demanded by the rules.

The background is complicated and lengthy and coloured by the emotions of those concerned and the passions of the era. One outcome was that some road captains left and formed the Union des Audax Clubs Parisiens, known today as the Union des Audax Français. That was the body that Desgrange began to favour. The new organisation stuck to, and still observes, the convention of long-distance rides led at a constant pace by a succession of captains.

Riders who disagreed with Desgrange, or who disliked the average speed, or who were simply left in a club with fewer captains, created a new style of riding called the Brevet de Randonneur Français. It began in 1921. Two years later the ACP joined Francs Routiers, the Cycle Excursionniste Parisien, the Touriste Club Parisien and Tandémistes Parisiens to form the Fédération Française des Sociétés de Cyclotourisme. In 1942 it became the Fédération Française de Cyclotourisme. Its first president was Gaston Cément, the president of the ACP.

The ACP in 1921 organised its first Brevet de Randonneur à Allure Libre, allure libre meaning that riders were free to ride at the speed they wished provided they finished the course at faster than 14kmh. The ACP extended its influence across Europe in 1976 and across the world in 1983, changing the name to Brevet Randonneurs Mondiaux.


Paris-Brest-Paris, from the capital to the tip of Finistère and back, was a professional race. In 1931, when the fifth race was held, Camille Durand, the president of the ACP, created a brevet ride over the 1,200km of the course.[2] The ACP set minimum and maximum times of 60 and 96 hours. There were 62 starters and 44 finishers. War prevented the second edition's being held until 1948. After that it was held every five years and, from 1975, every four. There have been 22,446 successful finishers from 1931 to 2007, the number of foreigners riding until they exceeded the French in 1991, 2003 and 2007.

Flèche Velocio[]

The Flèche Vélocio, started in 1947 in homage to Paul de Vivie, a pioneering touring cyclist and campaigner for derailleur gears. Teams of three to five leave the cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris to ride to wherever in Provence the traditional Easter gathering, Pâques en Provence, is taking place. It involves riding at least 360km in 24 hours. Just one team took part in 1947: Paulette Gallet, Jean Dejeans, Charles Portuault and Alfred Gadeceau, who rode 461km to Grignon.

Fléchette Vélocio[]

From 1988 the Fléchette Vélocio has been the junior edition of the Flèche Vélocio. It is a 12-hour ride with no more than an hour of darkness, finishing at the Easter meeting. The distance is between 150 and 250km. Teams are of up to five riders aged 14 to 18 and an adult who had already ridden the Flèche Vélocio.


  1. Cyclist Touring Club, What is an Audax?
  2. Une légende centenaire : ParisBrest et retour, Bernard Déon, chemin de Larris aux Curés, 89390 Ravières

Presidents of the Audax Club Parisien[]

Year Name Year Name
1904 Armand Le RENDU 1946 Pierre MOLINIER
1909-1910 Louis ROUDAIRE 1946 Henri CONTENT
1911 - 1912 Fernand FAUVEAU 1946 - 1950 Jean DEJEANS
1913 - 1914 Paul LECLERCQ 1951 Alfred GADECEAU
1915 - 1916 Henri de COPPET 1952 Lucien VIRGILE
1917 - 1918 Maurice MAITRE 1953 - 1956 René MARTINEZ
1919 - 1922 Armand DUBRAY 1957 - 1962 Jacques PASSAYS
1923 - 1924 Gaston LECLERE 1963 Jean DEJEANS
1925 - 1926 Maurice MAITRE 1964 - 1971 Gilbert BULTE
1927 - 1931 Camille DURAND 1972 - 1983 Robert LEPERTEL
1932 - 1934 Adolphe DESCUBES 1984 Marie-Thérèse MARTIN
1935 - 1937 Paul PANGAUD 1985 - 1991 Jean-Claude MASSE
1938 - 1942 René SAMSON 1991 - 1995 Claude AUBAGUE
1943 - 1945 Pierre MOLINIER 1996 - 2008 Pierre THEOBALD

External links[]

fr:Audax Club Parisien