Grand Départ

Preview for 2017

Düsseldorf gears up for the Grand Départ 2017

Electro-pioneers KRAFTWERK to play at the start of the Tour de France

Editing: Frisch, Michael and Paulat, Volker

Düsseldorf is where the heart of bicycle racing beats in 2017: 30 years after the Tour-de-France start in the then still divided city of Berlin in 1987, the world’s most important bicycle race is finally set to start again in Germany. The state capital of North Rhine-Westphalia is getting ready to write another chapter in sporting history - and eagerly awaits the start of the legendary French race.

The sporting part of the Grand Départ kicks off with the presentation of the teams on Thursday, 29 June, at 6 pm (currently scheduled time). On Friday, the Lichterfest (festival of lights) at Schloss Benrath offers the audience classical music under open skies, a romantic illuminated palace and breath-taking fireworks. At the same time, the official reception of the Grand Départ Düsseldorf 2017 is to be held there. On Saturday, the 1st stage starts as an individual time trial - planned start time: 3.15 pm (publicity caravan from 1.45 pm). On the evening of the 1st of July, the KRAFTWERK 3-D Open Air Concert for the start of the Tour de France with special guest AIR is to be held in Ehrenhof. On Sunday, to conclude the Grand Départ, the second stage is set to start in Düsseldorf - scheduled start time: 12 am (publicity caravan from 10 am). Around a million spectators are expected.

In addition, the hosting of the Grand Départ includes many further events in Düsseldorf in the first half of 2017 on the themes "promotion of bicycle traffic" and "development of the bicycle city". The series of events is already set to start in February – as an "appetiser" for the great Tour spectacle on the Rhine and as advertising for the bicycle as an environmentally friendly means of transport. The "Café Vélo" in the Alte Kämmerei am Marktplatz has been open since 16 December 2016.

Here is a selection of the events surrounding the Grand Départ:

Bicycle Film Festival: 9.2. to 12.2.2017
The film festival runs for four days. One film from the world of cycling is to be shown each day at four different venues. The Bicycle Film Festival, which is organised by Carsten Wien (cyclists hot-spot "Schicke Mütze") among others, reaches a broad public through the facets of lifestyle, fashion, music and cycling culture and makes the rise of cycling in the city clear. Four films are to be shown at the following four locations: Cinema, Schneider-Wibbel-Gasse 5, 40213 Düsseldorf (Thursday); Metropol, Brunnenstraße 20, 40223 Düsseldorf (Friday); Filmwerkstatt, Birkenstraße 47, 40233 Düsseldorf (Saturday); Schicke Mütze, Talstraße 22-24, 40217 Düsseldorf (Sunday). Info.:

Heinrich-Heine Institute: 15.3.2017
The reading with Katja Lange-Müller, Lydie Salvaire and Arno Bertina is to take place at the Heinrich-Heine Institute in Bilker Straße 12-14 under the title "Fremde Freunde" (strange friends). A Franco-German trialogue in collaboration with the French Embassy and the Kunststiftung NRW. Start: 7.30 pm.

"Bonjour le Tour" - start of the event programme: 25.3.2017
On Saturday, 25 March, the heart of Düsseldorf’s old town will beat to the rhythm of the Tour de France. Under the title "Bonjour le Tour", you can breathe in a bit of French savoir vivre at the Town Hall from 12 am on - with culinary delights from Café Velo, valse musette and live music. An Eiffel Tower made of Lego bricks will shoot up next to Jan-Wellem, Düsseldorf’s artists will be working with children and everyone who would like to have a creative bash at a joint work of art. And if you fancy, you can take a virtual ride along the route of the Grand Départ.

Giant tandems, performers and groups of musicians on their bicycles will get the city centre rolling and provide for some surprising moments. Enthusiastic supporters and sponsors will set the tone for the Tour with hands-on activities. The day concludes with the Nacht der Museen (museums night), with numerous exhibitions. The Town Hall will also be open, offering guided tours and showing wonderful portraits of great cyclists. In addition, the children’s cycling competition "Petit Départ" is set to start on 25 March. There’s also to be a new addition to the RADschlag app: alongside the existing, recommended bike routes, the official 1st stage of the Tour de France 2017 will be added as a special expedition. In that way, everyone has the chance to ride in the "tire tracks" of the professionals.

Kick-off of the Petit Départ: 25.3.2017
The children’s cycling competition "Petit Départ" kicks off on Saturday, 25 March. This is a cycling competition for children between the ages of eight and twelve. In three disciplines - the circuit race, the sprint test and the obstacle course - the participants are able to demonstrate their endurance, speed and skills. The winners of the six preliminaries will compete against each other on 1 July in the supporting programme of the Grand Départ. The boys and girls born in the years 2007 and 2008 and in the years 2005 and 2006 will be judged separately. Participation is free of charge.

In the run-up to the Grand Départ of the Tour de France, children are thus introduced to cycling as a sport. The focus is to be on fun and exercise. So that all the participants have the same odds, however, no racing bikes are allowed at the Petit Départ. Helmets are also compulsory. All the participating children receive a T-shirt and a medal.

Nacht der Museen (museums night): 25.3.2017
Another highlight of the day is the 17th edition of the "Nacht der Museen" (museums night). The organisers invite you to an artistic spring experience in a special atmosphere. Around 40 museums, exhibition halls, galleries and off-spaces open their doors between 7 pm and 2 am and present a varied programme. The special feature in 2017: many participating establishments and institutions will be taking up the theme of the "Tour de France”, “bicycle” or “France”, thus providing the sport with an exceptional framework. Shuttle buses will take visitors straight from one venue to another. Info.:

Tour pictures of the French School Düsseldorf: from 25.3.2017
The current school year 2016/2017 of the French School in Düsseldorf is under the motto "Tour de France". The pupils of all years (preschool, elementary school, secondary school) aged between three and 18 years are looking forward to the Grand Départ 2017 in Düsseldorf. Within the framework of an art project, the pupils of all age groups are to produce a total of ten pictures sized 1.5 m (width) x 1.2 m (height) by the start of the Tour. Five of these works will be shown at the event "Bonjour le Tour" on 25th March at the Town Hall and then displayed in the Theatermuseum. In addition, pupils from the French school will be taking part in the children’s race "Petit Départ". The school is also represented at "Radaktiv celebrates the Fête du Vélo" on 17 June on Unteren Rheinwerft. On the 2nd of July, the school will shine in its Tour de France outfit - and all the pupils, parents and teachers will watch the publicity caravan together, cheer on the cyclists and celebrate a big party.

"Cyclingworld Düsseldorf": 25.3. and 26.3.2017
On the 200th birthday of the bicycle, alongside the Tour de France, a new trade fair will also be starting in the state capital of North Rhine-Westphalia: the "Cyclingworld Düsseldorf". On 25th and 26th March 2017 in the old forge at Areal Böhler, Hansaallee 321, everything will revolve around the mobile product which Karl Drais “kicked off” with his idea in the year 1817. The opening hours of the "Cyclingworld Düsseldorf": daily from 10 am to 6 pm. Further information is available in the Internet:

Writing competition on the Tour de France: from 24.4.2017
In cooperation with the Bertold Heinze Foundation, the town libraries are holding a writing competition on the Tour de France for children aged eight to twelve years old. The subject areas of the competition are the Tour de France and cycling adventures in general. Photos and pictures from the children are also welcome. All the submissions should have a reference to Düsseldorf. A total of 40 prizes await the participants. For further information please visit:

Lecture series at the Haus der Universität: 25.4. to 30.6.2017
The Heinrich Heine University is accompanying the start of the Tour de France 2017 in Düsseldorf with the lecture series "Vélomanie?! Facetten des Radsports zwischen Mythos und Ökonomie" (Vélomanie?! Facets of cycling between myth and economy). Lectures will be held on this topic in the Haus der Universität, Schadowplatz 14, from 25 April to 30 June. Info.:

Airlebnis - Tour de l’aéroport DUS: 7.5.2017
On Sunday, 7 May, from 11 am to 6 pm, the visitors to the airport can already get into gear for the Grand Depart. At the Airlebnis "Tour de l’aéroport DUS" there are many cycling-related events for all age groups to watch and join in. Admission is free. Further information can be found on the Internet at:

"Mythos der Tour de France" (Myth of the Tour de France) in the NRW-Forum: 19.5. to 23.7.2017
On the occasion of the Grand Départ, the NRW-Forum Düsseldorf, Ehrenhof 2, is presenting a special exhibition on the powerful visual worlds of the Tour de France with works by famous international photographers. Among others, a picture by Andreas Gursky will be on display here. The NRW-Forum is a leading international cultural centre with a focus on photography, art, design, architecture, pop culture and creative industries. It is located directly on the Rhine. The exhibition can be seen from Monday to Sunday: 11 am to 6 pm, Fridays, Saturdays and bank holidays from 11 am to 8 pm. Info.:

7. Düsseldorf literature festival – the Literaturtage: 6.6. to 18.6.2017
In the Heinrich-Heine Institute, Bilker Straße 12-14, the 7th Düsseldorfer Literaturtage "Auf der Spitze der Welt. Heinrich Heine in Paris" (On top of the world. Heinrich Heine in Paris) is to be held with readings of French authors in collaboration with the Institut français and cooperation partners. In addition, on the occasion of the 7th Düsseldorfer Literaturtage, there will also be a literary dinner in Maxhaus, Schulstraße 11. Info.:

Town Hall Exhibition "Die Welt hat Pedale" (The world has pedals): 12.6. to 23.6.2017
Sport from a different perspective: The exhibition of cycling photos in the context of the Grand Départ 2017 in Düsseldorf's Town Hall, Marktplatz 2, is a portrait series by the photographer Rainer Kraus and the illustrator Rudolf A. Blaha. For this, numerous cycling enthusiasts, including sportspeople, coaches, carers, journalists, officials and fans, allowed themselves to be photographed in what were sometimes bizarre situations. Opening hours: Mondays to Fridays, 7 am to 6 pm.

"Fahrradgerechte Stadt" (bicycle-friendly city) in the Stadtmuseum: 17.6. to 2.7.2017
The exhibition of the Stadtmuseum of the state capital Düsseldorf, Berger Allee 2, is to be held under the title "Fahrradgerechte Stadt" (bicycle-friendly city) in cooperation with the Office of Traffic Management, the Bund Deutscher Architekten BDA Düsseldorf (Association of German Architects), and the Freundeskreis des Stadtmuseums (Friends of the Stadtmuseum). The opening party with the summer festival starts on 16th of June, at 6 pm. The Stadtmuseum is open Tuesdays to Sundays from 11 am to 6 pm.

Radaktiv celebrates the "Fête du Veló": 17.6.2017
On this day, the whole of Düsseldorf is celebrating a big bike party from 11am to 7pm. A few days before the start of the Tour de France, all the citizens are to get a foretaste of the Grand Départ. Among other things, more than 70 exhibitors and bicycle manufacturers at Unteren Rheinwerft will turn the bank of the Rhine into a spacious exhibition area for two-wheeler fans.

In the children’s area, there are special creative and action zones such as the traveling bicycle art factory and a slow biking competition. Numerous tourist associations and travel agencies from North Rhine-Westphalia, the whole of Germany and the Benelux countries will be presenting themselves at the bike travel market. Those who have not yet caught the “cycling bug” will also get their money’s worth there. Numerous hands-on activities, street artists and performances are set to provide diversion along the Rheinpromenade. The creature comforts are also provided for, as the catering mile offers visitors a tempting array of French cuisine.

A further highlight of the 17th of June is the Radnacht (bike night), where parts of the 1st stage of the Tour 2017 can be cycled. Here, all the participants have the opportunity to explore the circuit of the professionals in peace - in convoy and at a comfortable speed.

DRAHTESEL zur Tour de France (iron donkey at the Tour de France): 25.6.2017
The establishment BauKinderKultur is taking part in the Tour de France. Within the framework of the series of events "FamilyArt", Grand Départ will be taken up artistically on Sunday, 25 June. Under the title "DRAHTESEL zur Tour de France", in the Salzmannbau, Himmelgeister Straße 107h, the theme of bike (riding) is to be creatively explored in three workshops by means of printing, painting and sculpture. Further information can be found on the Internet at:

Town Hall Exhibition "Fahrrad an Bord" (bike on board): 27.6. to 11.8.2017
Under the motto "Fahrrad an Bord", within the framework of the Grand Départ, the Town Hall, Marktplatz 2, will be showing a photo exhibition of the SchifffahrtMuseums (maritime museum) which befits the cycling theme. The initially contradictory image of a bicycle on the water is actually not an uncommon sight on the boats on the River Rhine. The bike on board guarantees the boatmen uncomplicated mobility on land. Thus, the boatman has his bike “at the door”. The Düsseldorf photographer Petra Warrass creates a special perspective with her work, which connects the Rhine and the Grand Départ in Düsseldorf. The opening hours: Monday to Friday, 7 am to 6 pm.

Science and Cycling Conference: 28.6 and 29.6.2017
The Science and Cycling Conference is to be held in the Düsseldorf region to mark the Grand Départ 2017. The international specialist conference, which is being organised within the framework of the start of the Tour de France, is convening on 28 and 29 June for a two-day meeting in the Neanderthalhalle in Mettmann. Here, together with scientists, cycling experts from around the world will exchange research results and experience. The auditorium consists of researchers, physicians, nutritionists, sports directors, cycling associations, coaches and cyclists. The Science and Cycling Conference aims to facilitate the exchange of experience between cycling and other sports, thus integrating the best of all worlds into the various programmes. During the specialist conference, an accompanying trade fair will also be held for companies and institutes. The specialist conference is organised in cooperation with the Union Cycliste Internationales (UCI) among others.

Schloss Benrath Lichterfest (festival of lights): 30.6.2017
Schloss Benrath’s Lichterfest (festival of lights) 2017, a classic music evening for friends and families, which has earned a permanent place in the richly-filled event calendar of the state capital of Düsseldorf, is also to be held under the banner of the Tour de France. The classic open-air concert with the illumination of the palace and grounds and a display of music fireworks enchants all visitors - whether they are sitting comfortably in the seated terraced area, at their own festively laid tables or on a picnic rug at the mirrored pond. More than 10,000 spectators attend this unique spectacle every year. The start of the event at Benrather Schloßallee 100-106 is on Friday 30 June, 6 pm. The special feature this year: the official reception of the Grand Départ Düsseldorf 2017 is to be held within the context of the festival of lights. For information, see:

Sport Economic Congress: 30.6. to 1.7.2017
On the occasion of the Tour de France Start 2017, a specialist congress is to be held at the university IST-Hochschule für Management, Erkrather Straße 220, and the study group Arbeitskreis Sportökonomie on the economic consideration of the sport and regional development in the area of the Grand Départ 2017. Thematically related to the Grand Départ, the congress looks at issues of sport and regional development. The promotion of sport also leads to monetary and non-monetary returns in other economic sectors. The catering and hotel industry and tourism especially benefit from sporting activities and events. Sport can help to develop and shape the attractiveness of a region as a place to live, do business and engage in sports. Therefore, it is important to monitor the development of sport and the various sporting disciplines closely. Further information is available at:

KRAFTWERK 3-D Open Air Concert: 1.7.2017
At the special request of the Tour de France Director Christian Prudhomme, who personally contacted the founder of KRAFTWERK Ralf Hütter, and thanks to the personal commitment of the Lord Mayor Thomas Geisel, on 1 July (on the evening of the 1st stage), one of the legendary 3-D concerts of the electro-pioneers is to be held at the "Grand Depárt". In the fantastic open-air setting of the Ehrenhof in Düsseldorf, next to the river Rhine, along with the most famous compositions from their complete works, KRAFTWERK will also be performing the entire album "Tour de France".

Ralf Hütter, Henning Schmitz, Fritz Hilpert and Falk Grieffenhagen are themselves great cycling enthusiasts. The album "Tour de France" was released on the 100th anniversary of the Tour in 2003. The album is like a music film and impressively delivers the sound of the 21st century techno visionaries. At the special request of KRAFTWERK, the band AIR will open the evening. The duo from Paris has created elegant moments of the "French Touch" since the nineties and inspires audiences with its atmospheric soundscapes. With songs like "Moon Safari", Jean-Benoît Dunckel and Nicolas Godin have decisively influenced the history of French electronic music. Online tickets are available exclusively at; Ticket price: 50 Euros plus charges.

KIT – Kunst im Tunnel: 2.7.2017
KIT at Mannensmannufer 1b invites visitors to the open workshop "Alles in Bewegung" (everything in motion) from 11 am to 3 pm. At the end of the 19th century, the British photographer Edward Muybridge already tried to capture motion sequences in photos. In Düsseldorf too, everything is in motion! Here, everything revolves around the bicycle. KIT takes this as an opportunity to deal with the visual representation of movement. In the footsteps of Muybridge, flip-books are designed, in which everything is also in motion. For information see:

"Tour de Bach" in the Melanchthonkirche: 2.7.2017
When the participants of the Tour de France have left the city of Düsseldorf in the afternoon of 2 July, there are more top performances to marvel at in the Melanchthonkirche, Graf-Recke-Straße 211: Stephan Schrader, cellist of the leading orchestra "Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie", will play all six of the cello suites by Johann Sebastian Bach - a summit ascent in three stages. Start: 5 pm. Admission is free, donations are requested.

Here you will find an overview of the supporting programme of the Grand Départ (selection):

Café Vélo - THE meeting place for all fans of France and bicycle (racing) at Marktplatz
Date: since December 2016 until August 2017

Bicycle Film Festival
Date: 09.02.2017 to 12.02.2017
Various venues

Reading "Fremde Freunde" (strange friends)
Date: 15.03.2017
Heinrich-Heine Institute

"Bonjour le Tour" - start of the event programme
Date: 25.03.2017
Marktplatz and various venues

Children’s cycling competition "Petit Départ"
Date: 25.03.2017 and five other dates as well as final on 01.07.2017
Various venues

Nacht der Museen (museums night)
Date: 25.03.2017
Various venues

Cyclingworld Düsseldorf
Date: 25.03. and 26.03.2017
Old forge, Areal Böhler

Writing competition on the Tour de France
Date: from 24.04.2017
Town libraries

Lectures "Velomanie?!"
Date: 25.04. to 30.06.2017
Lecture series in the Haus der Universität

"Tour de l’aéroport DUS"
Date: 07.05.2017
Düsseldorf Airport

Photo exhibition "Mythos Tour de France"
Date: 19.05.2017 to 23.07.2017
Special exhibition in the NRW-Forum

7. Düsseldorf Literaturtage (literature days)
Date: 06.06. to 18.06.2017 Various venues

Photo exhibition "Die Welt hat Pedale" (the world has pedals)
Date: 12.06.2017 to 23.06.2017
Düsseldorf Town Hall

Exhibition "Fahrradgerechte Stadt" (bicycle-friendly city)
Date: 17.06.2017 to 02.07.2017
Stadtmuseum of the state capital Düsseldorf

Fahrradfest "Radaktiv celebrates the Fête du Vélo"
Date: 17.06.2017
Untere Rheinwerft and Rheinuferpromenade

DRAHTESEL zur Tour de France (iron donkey at the Tour de France)
Date: 25.06.2017
BauKinderKultur in Salzmannbau

Exhibition "Fahrrad an Bord" (bike on board)
Date: 27.06.2017 to 11.08.2017
Düsseldorf Town Hall

Science and Cycling Conference
Date: 28.06. and 29.06.2017
Neandertalhalle Mettmann, Gottfried-Wetzel-Straße 7

Sportökonomie Congress
Date: 30.06.2017 to 01.07.2017
IST-Hochschule für Management

KRAFTWERK 3-D Open Air Concert
Date: 01.07.2017

Workshop "Alles in Bewegung" (everything in motion)
Date: 02.07.2017
Kunst im Tunnel (KIT)

"Tour de Bach"
Date: 02.07.2017
Solo cellist in the Melanchthonkirche

Detailed information on the Grand Départ of the Tour de France 2017 in Düsseldorf can be found on the website of the state capital: