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Two years is a long time in motoring …

We look at some exciting events in 2017 … and a very exciting New Edition …
It has been two years now since the first edition of France: the Essential Guide for Car Enthusiasts was launched at Rétromobile, Paris, in February 2015. For the car enthusiast, it’s inevitable that a few events have since been wound up, while a couple of museums have closed, at least temporarily. But there is plenty to feel good about too: the latest FFVE study, published just after the guide was released, showed the number of automotive events taking place in France every year up 18% from its earlier survey in 2005. And that means lots more places for enthusiasts to visit in France this year!

New things to see and do in 2017

France: The Essential Guide NEW EDITION!

France: the Essential Guide for Car Enthusiasts will be published this spring in a fresh, updated edition (watch here for more details coming soon!), with some exciting new places covered for the first time. Since the original edition of the guide appeared, enthusiasts have been able to enjoy a wonderful new celebration of historic motorsport at Montlhéry, Les Grandes Heures Automobiles, and it will be back for the third time in September.

See www.lesgrandesheuresautomobiles.com for all the details.

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Make a note of the dates now for Les Grandes Heures Automobiles: 23-24 September 2017 (Courtesy LGAH)

Further south, the famous circuit at Magny-Cours is now home to a unique collection of French single-seat racing cars, the Conservatoire de la Monoplace Française. A great time to visit this will be at the start of July this year, when the circuit will be home to the first-ever Grand Prix de France Historique, which promises to bring 200 racing cars onto the track, including no fewer than 50 historic Formula 1 cars.

More information on both at www.circuitmagnycours.com

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Just some of the Ligier F1 cars on show at the Conservatoire de la Monoplace Française.

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For lovers of historic motorsport, Magny-Cours will be the place to be on July 1-2. (Courtesy Grand Prix de France Historique)


Away from the tracks, new classic car shows in Dijon and Nice are gathering pace, while the biggest events such as Rétromobile in Paris, Epoqu’Auto in Lyon and the Avignon Motor Festival go from strength to strength. This year’s edition of Rétromobile gave visitors the chance to see some cars normally hidden from view, like the Louis Pasteur coupé, or the Louis Krieger electric landaulet, both on loan from the Musée national de la voiture in Compiègne, which is still awaiting major restoration work.

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Returning to Nice in June for its third edition, French Riviera Classic & Sport. (Courtesy the organisers)

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Louis Krieger electric landaulet on loan to Rétromobile from Compiègne. (Courtesy Rétromobile)

Another new museum, this time promising up to 170 cars with an emphasis on sporting models from throughout the 20th century, is scheduled to open later this spring at Châtillon-Coligny in central France. E-mail contact@autosportmuseum.com to find out more.

As well as these new attractions, many of France’s long-time favourites will be celebrating major anniversaries this year. During the last weekend in April, it will be the tenth birthday of Classic Days: this hugely successful event includes demonstrations on the track at Magny-Cours, a massive parade lap to raise money for charity and a flypast by historic planes. A few weeks later, on 11 June, the British Car Show in Nantua will mark its twentieth edition, with a special welcome this year for owners of the Lotus Seven (itself turning 60 in 2017) and its descendants.


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More still to come in 2018

The good news for car enthusiasts doesn’t stop at the end of this year, with several major new projects already announced for 2018 and beyond. One of the biggest and best of these should be Vintage Bel Air, a brand-new leisure park at La Rochepot in Burgundy, about 10 miles from Beaune, on the famous old Route Nationale 6. Families will be able to enjoy the vintage atmosphere of period restaurants and garages or an open-air picnic in the summer.

To find out more, see www.vintagebelair.com

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Re-living holiday trips of the Sixties. (Courtesy Vintage Bel Air)

Track day enthusiasts will only have a short drive from Calais to enjoy time on the new circuit planned at Couvron, near Laon in Picardy. On the site of a former US air Force base, Jonathan Palmer – the former F1 driver and owner of the Bedford Autodrome, Brands Hatch, Cadwell Park, Oulton Park, and Snetterton in the UK – is building an ambitious new motorsport complex.

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Participants in the 2016 Circuit Historique de Laon on the main landing strip at Couvron.

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Jean-Louis Chêne, organiser of the Circuit Historique de Laon, interviewing Jonathan Palmer (right), at Couvron in 2016.

Other projects planned in France include a new circuit at Faveyrol in the Dordogne, and the ambitious Cité de l’Automobile at La Pommeraye in Anjou, already home to a famous hill climb. As more information becomes available, we’ll bring you news of these – and other new attractions – throughout the year on Drive Guide’s Facebook page.


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