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Thread: Le Mans

  1. #1
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    Le Mans

    Ok gents

    Who’s been, by what route and what’s recommended for accommodation and any other hints and tips eg tickets viewing area and general area.

    Jim

  2. #2
    I've been for the past two years, an amazing experience and an absolute must for any motorsport enthusiast.

    I've done both Dover-Calais and an overnight crossing from Portsmouth to St Malo. Cheapest is going via Calais, but is a long drive (on excellent roads I might add), the overnight crossing was a more relaxing trip. Bear in mind toll costs on the motorways. Traffic is not an issue.

    We've stayed on a dedicated campsite a short way from the circuit, and I've appreciated the peace and quiet that brings. You'd struggle to get much rest on circuit, especially when the 911 RSRs are pounding round!

    I've never felt like I've missed out with just an Enceinte General ticket, you're free to wander quite a long way. The Dunlop Curves as night falls is an absolute favourite spot, you really see the cars working hard through there. You can get to the start/finish straight for the start and finish.

    One piece of advice, avoid the parade in Le Mans Town Centre, it's very...French. You won't miss much, spend it in one of the outside bars instead, or at some of the other events going on in the area.

    You'll be certain to have a great time, nothing else like it!

    Chris

  3. #3
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    Cheers Chris. Much appreciated.

    Wanna come?? I think it’ll be 2019 tho as son is overseas this year.

    Jim


    Quote Originally Posted by The GMT Master View Post
    I've been for the past two years, an amazing experience and an absolute must for any motorsport enthusiast.

    I've done both Dover-Calais and an overnight crossing from Portsmouth to St Malo. Cheapest is going via Calais, but is a long drive (on excellent roads I might add), the overnight crossing was a more relaxing trip. Bear in mind toll costs on the motorways. Traffic is not an issue.

    We've stayed on a dedicated campsite a short way from the circuit, and I've appreciated the peace and quiet that brings. You'd struggle to get much rest on circuit, especially when the 911 RSRs are pounding round!

    I've never felt like I've missed out with just an Enceinte General ticket, you're free to wander quite a long way. The Dunlop Curves as night falls is an absolute favourite spot, you really see the cars working hard through there. You can get to the start/finish straight for the start and finish.

    One piece of advice, avoid the parade in Le Mans Town Centre, it's very...French. You won't miss much, spend it in one of the outside bars instead, or at some of the other events going on in the area.

    You'll be certain to have a great time, nothing else like it!

    Chris

  4. #4
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    I went a couple of years ago with my young adult son. One of the best times of our lives. We spent a bit of money with Travel Destinations, so had Eurotunnel tickets and glamping by the Porsche Curves, the tent is waiting for you and breakfast and food is provided all the time.


    We had access pretty much all areas so we were sitting in the grandstand at the start and finish, opposite where the Toyota stopped just before the last lap.



    The Porsche Curves at night fading into dawn were incredible.



    I didn’t mind the parade, thought it was a bit of fun but it went on too long in a chaotic way.


    Final tip, make sure you do the pit walk the day before, its open to everyone.



    Did I mention we enjoyed it? Hope you have as much fun.

    https://lemansrace.com/accommodation...porsche-curves

  5. #5
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    Thank you very much. You make it sound fantastic

    Did I mention thank you?
    :-)

    Jim

  6. #6
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    Guys, one point.

    Where is your car in relation to the tented accommodation? Close by or miles away.

    And once there, do you really need a car thereafter??

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmcb View Post
    Thank you very much. You make it sound fantastic

    Did I mention thank you?
    :-)

    Jim
    Not at all. Post some pictures when you’ve been.

    Don’t forget your preferred watch!

  8. #8
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    I shall indeed thanks.

    Did you see my note above on taking and having cars?

    Any H&T??

  9. #9
    We've been every year since 2000 & this is our route.


    Eurotunnel Folkestone to Calais


    From Eurotunnel Calais A16 towards Abeville, A28 / E44, towards & past Le Havre. E44 / A13 towards Caen, pick up N158 to Falaise, D509 / D909 to Putanges Pont Ecrepin, D909 through Ranes, through Carrouges, then turn right on to N12 to Pré-en-Pail, D20 to Villaines-la-Juhel, D13 to Courcité, D16 then D5 to Sillé-le-Guillaume, then D304 / D197 towards Saint Saturnin, D338 to the outskirts of Le Mans & follow Sat Nav to camp site.


    Lion Verd at Putanges Pont Ecrepin = the lunch stop


    This route avoids Rouen completely, the traffic jam through Alencon and all the Gendarmes on the lower part of the A16 and on the A28 North of Le Mans.


    Go Thursday morning latest & come back Monday.

    We usually stay with Team Langoustine at their campsite inside Tetre Rouge, but that's probably full now. People like Travel Destinations host decent campsites that will be much more civilised than the public sites.

    As for viewing - all the best Grandstands will be sold out now - again Travel Destinations may have tickets available at a smallish premium. We love the # 5 Dunlop Tribune, or Panorama.
    Andy

  10. #10
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    I have been 6 times in the last 12 years

    We always camp in Expo under the cow sheds, that way we have extra cover if it rains, which it often does

    Expo is regarded as the crappiest campsite but it’s right opposite the pub, and close to the entrance and many of the same people/clubs camp in the same place every year, the cars are right next to the tents

    Some of my lifetime best experiences ever have been at Le Mans, I have seen things that beggared belief but seem pretty normal at Le Mans, things that seem so crazy on reflection it’s a miracle people where not killed

    However none of those experiences have been inside the the track, IMO the racing is as dull as dishwater, some years I never even went to the track, but For a first visit I would recommend sitting in the stand, the Dunlop bridge, the concert, the big wheel, Guinness tent, Le Mans museum and of course the start

    Be prepared to eat nothing but chocolate pancakes, churros and baguettes as food choices are very limited unless you a4e a dab hand with the BBQ

    Also someone said not to go in to the town, but i quite like the parade but it’s absolutely packed, so I have only been a couple of times, we tend to go into the other town close by but I can’t remember the name

    Food and drink can be bought at the Carrefour, there’s a few patisseries and fast food joints close by

    Generally Le Mans is a giant drinking festival, probably a bit like Glastonbury without the music

    I’m sure you could stay a little way outside but I think you would loose the unique Le Mans atmosphere

    I highly recommend it


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  11. #11
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    I should have added, the absolute oracles on LeMans are the Pistonheads mob, pop over to their forum and see how the experts do it


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  12. #12
    Grand Master Foxy100's Avatar
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    23rd year for me, camped everywhere, mostly at the circuit but at Spay for five or six years: https://www.campingfrance.com/uk/fin...pal-le-houssay

    I'm in Hampshire and love driving in Normandy (and hate driving to Dover and down from Calais) so go Portsmouth-Cherbourg. There are lots of different routes - autoroute part or all of the way or cross-country.

    If you do go make sure you head out to Arnage/Indianapolis at midnight or so and then on to Mulsanne (if you can find it).
    You can live in your car but you can't drive your house.

  13. #13
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    Great stuff guys. Thank you. Keep it coming.

    Jim

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmcb View Post
    I shall indeed thanks.

    Did you see my note above on taking and having cars?

    Any H&T??
    My car was parked about 50 yards from the tent. No need for it until you leave. There is some great advice on other posts about the route, which I wish I’d seen before I went.

    My one tip is that on the way home, French petrolheads (mainly fathers and kids) gather on the autoroute bridges to watch the exodus of fancy cars on their way home. If you have something with any kind of raucous engine they’ll encourage you to give it some beans as you go past. Brought a smile to my face.

    If you need to get about you could always find some Danes to help...

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmcb View Post
    Cheers Chris. Much appreciated.

    Wanna come?? I think it’ll be 2019 tho as son is overseas this year.

    Jim
    I've just booked for this year, it's quickly turning into an annual pilgrimage for my friends and I! If the weather is a fraction of how beautiful it was last year, I'll be delighted

    Chris

  16. #16
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    I went in 2016. Incredible week. Camped with 1st Tickets via Pistonheads. 2 hot meals a day and reserved parking and pitch, 5 mins walk from start/finish line. You have to book that up in about October/November though I think.

    6am chunnel Wednesday, took the scenic route down via Honfleur, Camembert and some twisty stuff (pretty much no auto route on the way down) arrived about 5pm (OK, some very twisty stuff). Left Monday midday and blasted back to Calais via quickest route. Barely moved the car once we'd arrived, we even did the beer/supermarket run in to Arnage on foot. Still stickered it up for the trip though :)

    I will be back, for sure.

    Edit to say: the world cup starts the same week - go to Le Circuit in Arnage, they have big screens outside on the pavement with lots of seating. It was the Euros the year I went.
    Last edited by Hammond; 16th April 2018 at 12:35.

  17. #17
    I've been 8 times now, including one of the Classic events.

    I'm in Essex so have always traveled via Dover/Calais, all bar one occasion taking the ferry as we consider it more fun than the tunnel. Andy's route sounds well sorted, we've always taken the most direct route through Rouen and Alencon and thankfully haven't been caught out too much by the traffic. Treat the drive as a road trip, it's all part of the Le Mans experience and you'll always spot plenty of others making the same journey.

    I've stayed in a number of different campsites, if you're intending on staying at the circuit then do some reading as some sites are further away from the circuit/start finish than others and one or two have a reputation for being more party-like - read loud and lary! Either way if you're not good with sleep deprivation then stay away from the circuit. As mentioned, PH is a source of info https://www.pistonheads.com/gassing/forum.asp?h=0&f=25 as is Beermountain http://www.beermountain.com/. As a newbie you may find it easier to go with one of the organised groups to break you in, so to speak.

    I've always done Wed - Mon. The practice and quali sessions are Wed/Thurs afternoon/evening and it gives you more opportunities to get around the circuit for different viewing spots. The start/finish at night is an absolute must, as is getting out to Mulsanne corner and Arnage/Indianapolis, the latter two you'll need to drive to. Not having to leave on Sunday makes the day so much easier, you can relax into it safe in the knowledge that you're not joining the scrum to leave straight after the race.

    If you go DIY rather than with an organised group don't bother going into Le Mans itself for supplies, Arnage and one or two other towns have plenty of large stores for all the supplies you need. If you forget to pack something you'll get it there, and Arnage is great for breakfast as well as you can car-spot whilst you're dining out.

    I've never had a grandstand/tribune ticket, we've spoken about it but have never bothered. Can't say that I've ever regretted it though if the weather is foul or even too hot a covered tribune will offer shelter and the seats are allocated for the entire event so you can come and go as you please.

    One thing that I've always done is try to get out on the start/finish straight after the race has finished for the ceremonies and then stay there until all the crowds have dissipated. You go from the place being absolutely rammed to empty in a couple of hours - to sit up in the now vacant grandstands (no ticket required after the race has finished) and to stand on the circuit with no-one else about provides a great contrast compared to the atmosphere of the race weekend itself. You also get a great chance to get close to the cars in parc ferme.

    We've always had our own team t-shirts made up for the race weekend which is great fun, and in 2016 we also drew up our own car stickers and had them made for us. Team "What's Going On???" has also been to Silverstone for the GP there a few times as well



    Last edited by CardShark; 16th April 2018 at 13:00.

  18. #18
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    Absolutely amazing, highly recommended

    However, I've only been a couple of times & we've done virtually the same thing so I can't offer the insight of some of the others here.
    Grandstand (at Dunlop bridge) was worth the extra IMO.
    Camping there are many options & each has its pluses & negatives.
    We enjoyed overnight crossings to Belgium.

  19. #19
    Grand Master Foxy100's Avatar
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    I've never understood paying a huge markup to agencies to book everything for you. The campsites at the track are great (well, Beausejour and the other one down there are a bit too far for me but at least you can usually buy a ticket - they have some available still), you can order tickets direct from the ACO (https://ticket.lemans.org/home-manif-auto) or buy an entry ticket when you get there. You can pick up unwanted camping tickets on Pistonheads, Facebook or eBay, often for less than face value. When I take a car big enough I take basic food with me in my huge and very efficient cooler bag from Costco. Freeze a load of 750ml bottles of water first, keep your beer in the fridge and just before departing for the ferry stick the lot in the bag along with sausages, bacon and milk. I also take some English cheese, mainly because a camembert takes a couple of days to reach perfect consistency and it's easier to buy a Tunworth in the UK and stop for a picnic once you hit France and find a boulangerie with fresh baguette. Proper French bread and a molten Tunworth, perfect. Of course I buy French cheese too once I'm there. Here's a top tip - go to the supermarket in Écommoy, it's past Mulsanne down the N138 and the supermarket is usually empty. They'll charge you a euro for a bag of ice and you can stock up on everything you need - more beer, red wine, water, 12-packs of pain au chocolate, horse burgers* and so on. Friday's great for exploring the countryside, on Saturday morning you can have a very hard time in traffic anywhere near the circuit. I can also recommend the small butcher's shop in Spay, they sell award-winning rillettes, a local delicacy and essentially a coarse port paté. It's bloody lovely with fresh baguette. As is your bacon and sausage every morning when you crawl from your tent.

    If anyone wants to meet before/during the race you'll find me paying Andy Tims back for when I ducked out a couple of years ago before my round...

    There are tram stops near Houx Annexe campsite, buy a couple of tickets, stamp one on the machine in the tram and get out in the Place de la Republic. The old city is lovely and well worth finding (if in doubt, find the big car park under the cathedral (where Steve McQueen sees his mate's girlfriend at the start of 'Le Mans') and climb up the big set of stairs, then turn left and Jean-Luc's your uncle). Make sure you don't miss the last tram back (about 1am, from hazy memory). There are taxis but good luck finding one.

    The driver's parade is on Friday afternoon in the city centre, it's good fun and there are a lot of people out enjoying themselves in the evening. I'd love to recommend a couple of restaurants but I can't think of any (the Nez Rouge isn't bad unless you're a vegetarian).

    if you're in a convertible beware of driving through Arnage and past some of the campsites. If you're lucky it'll be water in the water pistols. Don't do burnouts. A few years ago I saw a lovely old XJ out and about and then saw it in a ditch with a couple of dents in the windscreen. People used to gather at Arnage (police have stopped it now) on the Friday, or on the Mulsanne, or by Houx Annexe or wherever and would get car/van/moped drivers to do burnouts. Unfortunately combined with wet roads from water pistols etc it used to catch people out. I think my ex-boss had a similar misadventure. And then there was the rented Ferrari that year at Indianapolis that speared into some poor kid's brand new Seat. The police found the Ferrari abandoned nearby and I think the whole of Pistonheads mobilised to find out who they were.

    While you're here, have a look at the Revolut card. Village put me onto it, you can pre-load it with money and use it without paying a charge or unpleasant exchange rates.

    *always read the label.
    Last edited by Foxy100; 16th April 2018 at 16:45.
    You can live in your car but you can't drive your house.

  20. #20
    Grand Master Foxy100's Avatar
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    Oh yeah and if you want to watch the start from the pit straight and don't have a grandstand seat you need to get there at about 7am. We usually rock up an hour before the start and watch from the Porsche Curves. There's a really good bank on the inside of Tertre Rouge corner, with a giant screen opposite, good for chilling out eating rillettes and baguette and watching the race unfold. The cars carry a lot more speed through that corner than they used to and onto the Mulsanne straight.
    You can live in your car but you can't drive your house.

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by Foxy100 View Post



    And then there was the rented Ferrari that year at Indianapolis that speared into some poor kid's brand new Seat. The police found the Ferrari abandoned nearby and I think the whole of Pistonheads mobilised to find out who they were.


    I was there when that happened, pretty sure it's on YT as well - 1999 or 2000 IIRC. The Ferrari spun his wheels from a standing start, fishtailed and slapped the Seat coming from the other direction.

    Mad Friday in '16 was generally well behaved and good humoured near our 'site in the afternoon, the evening was a different story though. Pished up and quite frankly vile human beings stopping all traffic with cars being spat at and drivers/occupants verbally abused if they didn't comply to instructions, one car with a young family in it had mirrors smashed. There were young kids on the back seat FFS. I walked off soon after, I've no interest in witnessing such foul behaviour.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by alfat33 View Post
    My car was parked about 50 yards from the tent. No need for it until you leave. There is some great advice on other posts about the route, which I wish I’d seen before I went.

    My one tip is that on the way home, French petrolheads (mainly fathers and kids) gather on the autoroute bridges to watch the exodus of fancy cars on their way home. If you have something with any kind of raucous engine they’ll encourage you to give it some beans as you go past. Brought a smile to my face.
    Don't be tempted to put your foot down, though, the Gendarmes treat Le Mans weekend as their Christmas fundraiser and are happy to rake in the cash from the well heeled British people in their flash (or otherwise) cars!

    I've heard of people being spot fined 3 or 4 times in the weekend! It can rather blow the beer budget!

    I'm toying with going again in 2019 as it'll mark the 40th anniversary of my first visit, although I've not been in over 10 years as it got too corporate for me (I'm sure people going in the 60s said the same think about the 70s and those in the 70s about the 80s!)

    M.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by snowman View Post
    Don't be tempted to put your foot down, though, the Gendarmes treat Le Mans weekend as their Christmas fundraiser and are happy to rake in the cash from the well heeled British people in their flash (or otherwise) cars!

    I've heard of people being spot fined 3 or 4 times in the weekend! It can rather blow the beer budget!
    M.
    Good advice! I’d already been warned so just dropped a couple of gears to let the V8 howl a bit, seemed to do the trick while keeping the Gendarmes happy. There were a few just past some of the tolls as well, waiting for anyone who decided to go for the full ‘launch control’ effect.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by alfat33 View Post
    Good advice! I’d already been warned so just dropped a couple of gears to let the V8 howl a bit, seemed to do the trick while keeping the Gendarmes happy. There were a few just past some of the tolls as well, waiting for anyone who decided to go for the full ‘launch control’ effect.
    It's said that they also check the average speed between tolls and get a tip off, but I've no idea if that's true...

    M

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  25. #25
    Grand Master Foxy100's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alfat33 View Post
    Good advice! I’d already been warned so just dropped a couple of gears to let the V8 howl a bit, seemed to do the trick while keeping the Gendarmes happy. There were a few just past some of the tolls as well, waiting for anyone who decided to go for the full ‘launch control’ effect.
    They can catch you at night too, I think the last time I properly fanged around coming back from Le Mans (the 1000km race in 2003!) was very late at night in the pissing rain in November in a fast Evo VII. That was fun. I later found out my grip issues on roundabouts was because I should have had some dial on the dash set to the gravel setting. These days you're best off not bothering going too fast. I've seen a speed trap set up by a road on the other side of a field from the autoroute, with gendarmes on bikes a km or two down the motorway.

    In Le Mans itself most of them are used at the circuit to create traffic jams which they then force their way through in convoys when it gets to shift change. Once the race is over they all disappear and the traffic flows perfectly.
    You can live in your car but you can't drive your house.

  26. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by snowman View Post
    It's said that they also check the average speed between tolls and get a tip off, but I've no idea if that's true...

    M

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    The time stamp thing is a myth, no alerts are raised should you get from one toll to another at "Le Mans mode" speed.

  27. #27
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    We walked on the track one year which was pretty cool, just a few hours before the race start


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  28. #28
    Find out which frequency Radio Le Mans broadcasts on, and get a small radio and headphones each, otherwise you haven't a hope of following the race.

    The tram is excellent, and stops outside a Carrefour.

    Mad Friday on the Mulsanne is an experience you won't forget, but as Foxy said, it's not always water in the water pistols, and there will inevitably be a Land Rover or similar with a water cannon mounted on the back. Probably in Gulf colours. Don't be tempted to do doughnuts or drifting around roundabouts unless you enjoy having a gun pointed at you, followed by experience of the inside of a French prison. The Gendarmes on duty at Le Mans are the very finest French riot police, short of both hair and patience.

    Don't expect to get much sleep. Our European cousins enjoy setting off fireworks through the small hours.

    Have a great time!
    Although no trees were harmed during the creation of this post, a large number of electrons were greatly inconvenienced.

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by CardShark View Post
    The time stamp thing is a myth, no alerts are raised should you get from one toll to another at "Le Mans mode" speed.
    I can confirm this, I had to go banzai following a Frenchman along the Riveira to Monaco and asked him whether that was possible and he confirmed not. Which I was thankful for, given the speed he wanted to drive at!

    Anyway, on topic, agreed it’s a fantastic weekend. Nothing more to add to the previous posts, they’ve provided you with everything I could think to add.

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by CardShark View Post
    The time stamp thing is a myth, no alerts are raised should you get from one toll to another at "Le Mans mode" speed.
    More specifically, an infraction had to be witnessed and not be the result of a reasoning.
    I used past tense because I haven’t followed closely the evolution in law enforcement over the last 20 years, and there are average speed radars (called ‘radars tronçons) so this may have changed
    Well, everybody in Casablanca has problems. Yours may work out.

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