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Of Derring-Do & Petits Choux

Yesterday was #CreamCakeTuesday, (it’s my own invention) and so I picked out a couple of fancy-looking puffs from the boulangerie for Bob and me. I chose two ‘Paris-Brest’ and there’s an interesting story behind their name…

We all know how the French people love their bikes and are obsessed with the Tour de France, but less well known, overseas at least, is a little ride out called the ‘Paris-Brest-Paris’ or the PBP, which takes place every four years. It was started in 1891 and is more of an endurance trial.  It is not a race as such, but participants aim to ride from Paris to Brest in Brittany and back again, some 1200km, in less than 90 hours.

Brest, way, way over on the left there.


These madcap participants must use the same bicycle for the whole race and no motorised support is allowed. They cycle day and night, stopping in ditches for cat-naps and eating on the go.  In a shocking departure from the normal French opening hours, shops and restaurants along the route stay open throughout the night, and even at lunchtimes, to provide sustenance and support for the weary cyclists.  Bob once met a couple of competitors on a ferry going over to France, their bikes were over 100 years old and had wooden wheels!  As time and bike technology moves on, the times of completion get faster, a new record was set in 2015 at 42hrs!!

Anyway, back to the cakes… a Paris-Brest gateau was invented to commemorate the race and consists of a ring of choux pastry, filled with crème praliné and decorated with almonds. Its circular shape represents a bicycle wheel. Mine was quite nice, but a bit gooey for my taste, perhaps I’d have been more appreciative of its creamy goodness if I’d cycled 1200km recently/ever.  As luck would have it, tomorrow is #SensibleSpongecakeDay!

Paris-Brest Gateaux representing bicycle wheels just before being punctured and scoffed.