While driving up the Galibier on stage 11 we spotted a man standing all by himself.
This is not that uncommon an occurrence, there are many gentlemen who wait alone patiently along the course of the Tour de France for the race to pass, a quiet sort of solitude exuding out of their cling film-wrapped sandwiches and placid manner.
But this man was not like any of the others. He was draped in a French flag, dressed in a prisoner’s outfit, and holding a sign that read ‘La terre est plate’, which translates to ‘the Earth is flat’.
Quickly, we jumped out of our rental car. He greeted us like long-lost friends, or like a man dressed up with the sole motivation of receiving just one single crumb of attention.
Who are you?
“I have fun, I make fun everywhere and I like it because now it’s something special for people to see at the Tour de France,” came the man’s response, whose name turned out to be Jacques Suchet.
“You know the Devil?” he continued. “He’s finished, he’s not coming anymore, he’s getting too old. And so yesterday I was in Mègeve, today I’m here and tomorrow I will be on Alpe d’Huez and after the Pyrenees. Everywhere. I have fun everywhere.”
You are the new Devil then?
“I will take his place yes, I will be famous like him.”
At this point, it must be pointed out that Didi the Devil is still at the Tour de France, as recently as stage 11, when we met Jacques.
Talk us through your costume.
“I wear this because it’s flashy so people will see it, sometimes on TV, some people say they’ve seen me on television. And it’s very light for when it’s too hot. I am also naked underneath so I don’t have to sweat too much.”
And the Earth is flat?
“And the Earth is flat*. I make some videos on YouTube.”
After a couple of minutes spent digging, it turns out that Jacques does indeed have a YouTube channel, upon which sits 75 videos.
His early efforts, uploaded nine years ago, include dressing up as Santa Claus with a sign that reads: “Santa Claus doesn’t like atomic bombs as well”. There’s another one titled “Femen 16” which included images of naked women from circa 1950 that I was too scared to click on.
As the years pass, Jacques uploads videos of himself wearing a beret in a chapel saying how much he loves the Russian punk band Pussy Riot as well as another effort of him jumping around outside in the depths of winter wearing minimal clothing. There’s a video about French President Emanuel Macron, and judging by the character with a human face made out of five toilet rolls hanging next to him in the thumbnail image one assume the video’s contents.
Three years ago, Jacques also starts uploading ripped television footage of when his flat-Earth costume appeared on coverage of the Tour de France. The 2020 video shows him standing alongside Didi the Devil, so they’ve at least met. Maybe they’re even friends?
It’s fair to say that Jacques seems an eccentric character. In which case, the Tour de France is probably the best place to be. As for how vehemently he believes that the Earth is flat?
Well, the fact that we met him halfway up a mountain hopefully means he doesn’t believe the sub-theory of flat-Earthers that mountains are merely the remnants of ancient giant tree stumps.
* Quick fact check: It is not.