Not so long ago I received an enquiry from a chap that goes by the non de plume of “The Bounder” via the Drive-France website asking about the wearing of seat belts in France when the car has none fitted because it’s very old, (they are exempt) and about the MPH to KPH converters as old cars don’t have both on the speedo like a lot of modern cars do.
Anyway leading on from the enquiry we emailed each other back and forth a couple of times and I asked if he’d mind giving me some information about his Classic car and some of the rally’s he attends each year in France as I thought the Drive-France readers might find it interesting. I know I did, so read on and see what you think.
Classic Car Road Trip
“The Bounder” has a fantastic open topped Bugatti sports car and regularly visits Europe to take part in classic car rally’s/races, taking in places of interest that he ‘Googles’ & puts together in an itinerary for the route, places of interest & hotels.
Choosing to take the non-motorway route wherever possible the routes taken ensure the full French experience is absorbed, running through what appears to be almost deserted villages, stopping in small towns for a coffee & a bite to eat before continuing to the next place on the route.
The last trips route was a 1,400 mile round trip that took in The Ace Cafe, onto the very first motor racing track in the world at what is now the Brooklands Motor Museum (both in London) then to a stop over at Hythe (The excellent ‘Beach’ B&B right on the sea run by ex Savoy chefs) near the Euro Tunnel.
Up in the morning & the eight minute drive to the tunnel & onto France then the drive to the small walled town of Laon for 3 days of all things classic cars & taking in the food & wines of the area once the racing has been completed each day.
Race/rally over & everyone departs for home but not for the Bugatti, the short drive is taken to Reims to see the fabulous cathedral, visit to the major champagne houses of the region (Lanson, Moet etc), bottles safely stowed away then off to visit the site of the original French F1 track (Circuit du Gueux) on the outskirts of the town.
From there the Bugatti was turned towards Belgium & the town of Bastogne & an overnight stop (Best Western Hotel) in the centre of town where there are restaurants a plenty. Bastogne is famous for The Battle of the Bulge, the 1st Airbourne Easy Company museum is located 300 yards from the hotel.
Leaving the next morning the American cemetery was visited as was Jaques Wood & a local farm that houses the biggest American plains buffalo/bison herd outside of the States. Bison steaks safely stowed away with the champers, the journey too in the back roads & villages with their tank relics laying by the side of the road & in the centre of the villages on the way to the next destination of Waterloo & the visit to the battlefield, both Napoleons & The Duke of Wellingtons houses that they stayed in prior to the battle (The Duke of Wellingtons abode is now the Dukes Museum).
Overnight in Waterloo then off to Ypres taking in the town of Casteau (the location of the first & last shot fired in WW1, remarkably they are no more that 100 yards apart!). Safely parked in Ypres very near the cathedral, it was a very short walk to the Menin Gate where since the end of WW2 each night without fail at 8pm the road is closed, both tourist & locals gather as the local Fire Brigade march inside the gate & stand to attention to perform the Last Post, ceremony over & onto the restaurants & bars all around the local area. Next morning took in the biggest WW1 cemetery of Tyne Cott (12,000 poor souls entombed here), from there the route turned back to France to the secret Nazi rocket sites of La Coupole & the sinister Blockhaus then on to the last overnight of the trip based in Calais.
The next morning it was onto the tunnel & once back on home soil turning to the Battle of Britain Memorial at Capel le Ferne in Kent, then home.
This year it’s the same UK side, onto France to the crash site of the red Baron, onto the Canadian memorial at Beaumont Hamel on to Fargniers near Laon (concentration camp transportation site), then onto the 3 day rally at Laon.
Rally over & its back to Reims then onto the south of Belgium to a car grave yard at Chatillon & overnight at Dinant (home of the saxophone), the next day its onto the Netherlands & Arnhem for two nights taking in the history of Operation Market Garden, visiting the Paratrooper museums & remembrance at Oosterbeck. Next port of call is the small coastal town of Steenburgen (grave of Guy Gibson VC DSO DFC Dam Buster leader), then finally Dunkirk for the return home on the Saturday.
That’s what I Call a Road Trip
Well that’s what I call a road trip and I have to say that it puts my driving holidays in France to shame. I’d like to thank ‘The Bounder” for sending the information in and below are some links to some of the places that are mentioned above if you’d like further reading on any of them.
Links for further info:
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Author: Dave G
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