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Le Mans Tour

May 21, 2023 - June 13, 2023

21 May – 13 June 2023

2023 will be the 100th anniversary of the first Le Mans 24 Hour Race. The field will feature a raft of new cars. Porsche and Peugeot have already shown their cars while Audi, Ferrari, Cadillac are all set to join them and Toyota in the outright Hyper Car class. This seems to be a great excuse to visit the race of the century and we plan to do it in style. We have secured the Chateau Crystal in the Loire Valley for our exclusive use while the race is on. Just as importantly the build up to the race will be the perfect introduction to French culture with a 3 week tour of the best that France has to offer. Scenery, food, wine, hotels and driving will all be memorable.

While some may look forward to staying up for all 24 hours of the Le Mans race, we suspect that many would like to attend portions of the race and the build up to it and retreat to somewhere comfortable between times. Chateau Crystal is a bit over an hour from Le Mans and offers a huge range of activities for those wanting a break from the track.

The luxurious 19th century Chateau is on a magnificent 105 acre estate in the Loire Valley near Grez-Neuville and features a 22 acre private lake, a lovely island, wonderful lakeside terrace, swimming pool, palatial lawns, gorgeous gardens and woods full of wildlife. The Chateau has been extensively renovated and sumptuously decorated. The majestic entrance features a double carved-stone stairway and elaborate 16.5 foot ceilings. There is an elevator service to all four floors, access to reception rooms, dining rooms and the 14 en-suite bedrooms. This is special.

The Proposed Schedule

Sunday 21 May Meet in Reims
Monday 22 May Rest Day Reims
Tuesday 23 May Reims – Colmar
Wednesday 24 May Colmar – Mulhouse – Grindelwald
Thursday 25 May Grindelwald – Zermatt
Friday 26 May Rest Day Zermatt
Saturday 27 May Zermatt – Chamonix
Sunday 28 May Chamonix – Valence
Monday 29 May Valence – Millau
Tuesday 30 May Millau – Carcassone
Wednesday 31 May Carcassone – Andorra – Les Bordes
Thursday 1 June Les Bordes – Lourdes – Pau
Friday 2 June Pau – Bilbao
Saturday 3 June Bilbao – Biarritz
Sunday 4 June Rest Day – Biarritz
Monday 5 June Biarritz – Cognac
Tuesday 6 June Cognac – St Malo
Wednesday 7 June St Malo – Mont St Michel – Chateau Crystal
Thursday 8 June Practice – Qualifying
Friday 9 June Rest Day – Race Parade
Saturday 10 June Race Start
Sunday 11 June Race Finish
Monday 12 June Recovery Day
Tuesday 13 June Farewell

The Tour Schedule

Day 1 – Reims

Reims is about a 90 minute drive ENE of Paris. The plan is to arrive at your leisure and we will meet up for dinner.

Day 2 – Reims – Rest Day

Reims is an essential stop on France’s Champagne trail, with big-name bubbly houses headquartered here among wide boulevards and well-preserved medieval churches. There’s plenty to toast to at Reims Cathedral, a coronation site for centuries of French monarchs. I figure this is a great opportunity to get accustomed to the time change and visit some of the Champagne producers for which the district is famous.

Day 3 – Reims – Colmar

Colmar is a photographer’s dream, with its labyrinth of cobbled lanes, flower-lined canals, and timber-framed houses painted in a rainbow of pastel hues. It’s the quintessential Alsatian town, brimming with traditional restaurants and surrounded by vineyards and medieval castles.

Day 4 – Colmar – Mulhouse Grindelwald

245Km – 3 hours

Grindelwald is postcard-perfect, a charming example of a Swiss ski resort. But before we get there we will head into Mulhouse and the world famous Schulmpf Collection of Bugatti and other fabulous cars.

Day 5 – Grindelwald – Zermatt –  230 Km – 4.20 hours

230Km – 4.2 hours

When most people think of Zermatt, they think of one thing: The Matterhorn. This ultimate Swiss icon looms over Zermatt, first drawing visitors here in the 1860s. The village of Zermatt itself is lovely and car-free, with old-fashioned brown chalets and winding alleys. (Don’t worry, you don’t have to walk everywhere—there are electric vehicles and horse-drawn cabs.)

Day 6 – Zermatt – Rest Day

Soak up the Alpine atmosphere Climb the Matterhorn. A day to do your own thing.

Day 7 – Zermatt – Chamonix

180Km – 3.30 Hours

We leave a Swiss mountain resort for a French one, nestled in the shadow of Mt Blanc.

Day 8 – Chamonix – Valence

300Km – 4 Hours

A lovely day cruising through the national parks around the central massif.

Day 9 – Valence – Millau

270Km – 5 Hours

The Roman town of Millau is now famous for the amazing bridge that towers over it but we will head into the gorge and enjoy the French cuisine after another day through the French countryside.

Day 10 – Millau – Carcassone

170Km – 3.15 Hours

Step back several centuries and imagine yourself in medieval times. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, La Cite at Carcassonne is a painstakingly restored medieval walled city on a hill by the Aude River. You’ll half-expect to see armed lookouts manning the fortified city’s towers. Cross the river to La Bastide neighbourhood for all the charms of a French country town

Day 11 – Carcassone – Andora

300Km – 5.30 Hours

We head into the Pyrenees and the Principality of Andorra before continuing to the tiny village of Les Bordes for the evening.

Day 12 – Les Bordes – Pau

270Km – 4.20 Hours

More of the mountains again today as we head north to Lourdes and onto the Medieval City of Pau.

Day 13 – Pau – Bilbao

350Km – 4.45 Hours

We leave the mountains and head in to Spain and Bilbao home to the amazing Guggenheim designed by Frank Gehry. The art inside is not too bad either.

Day 14 – Bilbao – Biarritz

185Km – 3 Hours

A nice short day for the easy run along the Atlantic Coast to Biarritz. A stylish beach town on France’s southwestern coast, Biarritz was once the holiday spot for nobility and is now Europe’s surfing capital. It’s experienced a tourist renaissance—summers are busy. Biarritz lacks the Riviera’s glitz, but you’ll see affluent holiday-makers in designer gear and surfers in flip-flops, and hear French, Spanish and Basque. The Grande Plage is the centre of the action. Behind it, visit the restored, Art Deco casino and wander the streets down to the old port to the west.

Day 15 – Biarritz – Rest Day

 

Day 16 – Biarritz – Cognac

380Km – 4.50 Hours

A fairly long day as we head north through the Aquitaine region to Cognac, home to the distilled wine region.

Day 17 – Cognac – St Malo

420Km – 5 Hours

One of my favourite places in France, Saint-Malo was originally built as a walled citadel guarding the mouth of the Rance river, was for centuries home to feared pirates. They’ve all gone to Davy Jones’ Locker, though, and now it’s Brittany’s most-visited city. Walk the bustling streets of the reconstructed old city and the vast beaches, making sure to stop at the Grande Porte, Porte St-Vincent, the town’s castle with its Musée de la Ville and the Grand Aquarium.

Day 18 – St Malo – Chateau Crystal

250Km – 4 Hours

If you are in Normandy you have to visit Mont St Michel, so we do before heading to our base for the Le Mans Race just over an hour south of Le Mans. The idea here is that we can get to the circuit fairly easy when required but for those not interested in Endurance Racing. Chateau Crystal is central to any number of vineyards and restaurants to keep everyone entertained.

Day 19 23 – Le Mans

The schedule for the race has not been announced as yet but form past experience the likely schedule will be;

Thursday 8 June Practice – Qualifying
Friday 9 June Rest Day – Race Parade
Saturday 10 June Race Start
Sunday 11 June Race Finish
Monday 12 June Recovery Day
Tuesday 13 June Farewell

As with all Driving Adventures tours, this trip is all about having a good time. Nice cars, good friends, brilliant roads in some of the most beautiful locations on earth in company with like-minded adventurers. The tour represents the highest standards of organisation, first-rate hotels and exquisite dining. I will be there as a guide to smooth the way and ensure that each guest has the best experience possible.

These are events organised as rallies, but without the restrictions and limitations of a competition event. There is no competition timing. Guests are given detailed road books as well as a Sat-Nav system that has the correct route as well as a short history of the areas travelled. Roads are selected for the driving enjoyment. Unlike competition events, guests will be free to set their own agenda for the day. You can choose between a sleep-in and a leisurely breakfast or an early start with stops along the way to more closely inspect the local colour, or you could short-cut the scheduled route and hurry to your destination for a swim or spa before dinner with the group. You can even arrange to skip a night or two to take in a special side trip. It is YOUR holiday. The tour package includes all hotels and breakfast each morning. We can even help you with your choice of wheels for the tour.

Navigation

One of the keys to the flexibility of the tour is a navigation system that allows you to explore all the amazing back roads, at your own pace and with the confidence that you will be able to find your way to the next hotel or lunch stop. To make this as easy as possible we will supply you with your own Garmin Sat-Nav unit with our route programmed into it. This will be backed by our legendary easy to read road-book that details for you every turn that you require along the entire 3 week, 4,000 km tour. The book that runs to 150 pages has been perfected through constant updating and contains not only navigation instruction but also contact details for all hotels and emergency services, as well as helpful hints that make driving on tour a pleasure.

Cars

The choice of a car for a adventure such as this is a very personal choice. We will be happy to help arrange whatever your choice of vehicle is. We have had a good arrangement with Hertz and their Adrenaline Collection, there are specialist hire companies that specialise in a range of sports and exotic models or you could take advantage of the French Tourist Leasing scheme that offers a range of French cars at very attractive rates and have the advantage of being brand new and registered and insured in your name. You just hand the back at the end of the tour. We can even put you in touch with a dealer who will arrange to sell you the model of your choice and buy it back at the end of the tour. Talk to us when you are ready to choose.

Flights

I have found most tour members like to make their own flight arrangements however if you wish to receive a quote for flights we are happy to arrange this for you.

$25,000

Per Car – max 2 people

The Cost

The tour, which includes all accommodation, a cooked breakfast each morning, a comprehensive road-book, a pre-programmed Garmin Sat-Nav with our route loaded in and myself to lead and smooth the way for you is priced at $25,000 per car, max 2 people.

Every effort will be made to maintain the advertised pricing but any large movement with the exchange rate may require an adjustment.

Booking

There are limited places available for this tour and early indications are that it will be over subscribed. Places on the tour will be allocated on a first in basis. To secure a place you will need to provide an initial non-refundable deposit of $5,000.

Contact

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Details

Start:
May 21, 2023
End:
June 13, 2023
Event Category:

Organiser

Driving Adventures