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Twenty more reasons to visit France in 2016

Whichever part of France you like to visit, and whatever type of car you appreciate, you should find even more reasons to come to France in 2016
If you’ve already referred to France: The Essential Guide for Car Enthusiasts, you’ll know there’s no shortage of things for car-lovers to see and do in France. But this year, there’s even more to enjoy, with several events held only in even years, new shows and exhibitions, and new venues for old favourites.

Whichever part of France you like to visit, and whatever type of car you appreciate, you should find even more reasons to come to France in 2016. Scroll down through our gallery of twenty special occasions to enjoy this year!

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North-East France
One of the star attractions at this year’s Rétromobile in Paris was the collection of the cars and other vehicles designed by Philippe Charbonneaux. Now his son, Hervé, has donated the collection to the French government, and from 11 March his designs have been on show at the fantastic Cité de l’Automobile in Mulhouse. If you visit Mulhouse between April and September, you can also enjoy outdoor displays of some of the museum’s other exhibits: see for more details.

Renault 16 saloon prototype and Samson barquette, both designed by Philippe Charbonneaux, on show at Rétromobile.

Central France & the Alps
Also open now is the Musée Automobile de Valençay, at the eastern end of the Loire Valley. Their special exhibition this year – which runs until 13 November – should be ideal for British visitors, taking ‘Les Belles Anglaises’ as its theme.

The permanent display at Valençay.


Central France & the Alps
On 23 April (and open until 20 November), the Musée Matra opens the doors for its special exhibition of 2016, devoted to ‘La France et ses champions.’ Come and see ten cars which have marked France’s automotive history, in motorsport or as ‘European Car of the Year,’ as well as the museum’s permanent collection of Matra road and racing cars.

'La France qui gagne:' theme of this year’s special exhibition at the Musée Matra.

Matra 530 Vignale Coupé, one of the Musée Matra’s latest acquisitions

Paris & the Ile-de-France
Also on 23 April, another event – this time in Paris – looks very much to the future rather than the past. For the very first time, the FIA will be holding its Formula E Grand Prix for electric cars, on a specially adapted street circuit around the Invalides, in the heart of the capital.

The FIA is no stranger to electric racing cars: ‘La jamais contente,' seen here at the 2014 Mondial de l’Automobile, dates back to 1899


Southern France
One of Europe’s greatest historic motorsport events, the Grand Prix Historique de Monaco, returns to the Principality from 13-15 May. Full details at If you’re planning to visit, book your accommodation now, or choose from the cheaper hotels in Nice, an easy journey along the coast.

1950s Jaguar and Maserati race up to the Casino in 2014.

Historic Formula 1 cars in front of the harbour.

North-East France
That same weekend – from 14-16 May – but much closer to England, the Circuit Historique de Laon will mark its 25th anniversary, with a special celebration this year of Austin and Morgan (80 cars already booked). I am delighted to be joining the commentary team for this year’s event, so I hope we can meet up there.

Whilst in Laon, you may like to visit the newly re-opened Musée Automobile de Laon, with its collection of popular cars from the 1950s to 1980s, or visit the site of Jonathan Palmer’s planned new circuit at nearby Couvron.

Recreation Stanley steaming up the ramparts in Laon in 2015.

Morgan waved off at the Parc Foch last year.

Paris & the Ile-de-France
The last weekend in May should be a memorable one for all Mercedes fans (the author included), when the French magazine Etoiles passion hosts the second Mercedes Festival in the magnificent surroundings of the Ecole Militaire, France’s military academy, in central Paris, on 28 May.

Mercedes C124 coupés on display at the first Mercedes Festival, held at Montlhéry during Les Grandes Heures Automobiles.


Southern France
Many British enthusiasts already know and enjoy Classic Days, which has been held in May for the past ten years at Magny-Cours. Following this success, the organisers are launching a new event this year, Classic Heritage, which will be held at the historic Circuit d’Albi on 4-5 June. Attractions already planned include a touring rally, plenty of time on track and an auction of classic cars.


Western France
Also on 5 June, but much closer to the Channel, a local association, Team J, is organising a celebratory meeting on the site of the old circuit at Rouen-les-Essarts. See for more details.

North-East France
Soon after these two events, from 8-12 June, several hundred MG owners from all over Europe will converge on Le Touquet for the MG European Event of the Year. The weekend is already fully booked, but there is plenty for spectators to enjoy, including touring rallies, a display of the cars in the attractive resort of Le Touquet and track sessions nearby at Abbeville.

MGA at a previous concours event at the Hôtel Westminster, le Touquet’s leading hotel.

Western France
The last weekend in June is usually one of the busiest on the French classic car calendar, and this year is no exception. In Normandy, the popular Rétro Festival moves to a new – and less dusty – venue in Caen at its ParcExpo.

The Rétro Festival celebrates the history of the Circuit de la Prairie in Caen, brutally interrupted in 1955. (Courtesy Rétro Festival)

Alpine A310 on the reconstructed Circuit de la Prairie.

Central France & the Alps
The Grand Prix de Tours, another event deservedly popular with British visitors, is also on the move … all the way to the beautiful town of Chinon. After coping with increasingly complicated access in Tours, the Grand Prix begins a new chapter in its history, with a new demonstration area for historic sports cars on the banks of the Vienne river.



Paris & the Ile-de-France
One of the areas enjoying the biggest growth in France of late has been the so-called ‘Youngtimers’ movement, for recent classics from the 1970s to 1990s. This year, Youngtimers magazine is organising a brand-new indoor show at Le Bourget, close to the A1 autoroute, just north of Paris. The show will take place on 3 July: details at

Youngtimers magazine stand at an earlier show at le Bourget.

Western France
Much more traditional – and one of the top events for all car enthusiast in France – Le Mans Classic returns to the Sarthe from 8-10 July. It’s an unrivalled opportunity to see some of the best historic race cars in action, as well as a huge display of classic cars of every conceivable make and model.

1932 MG Midget on track at Le Mans.

Hawthorn refuelling, on his way to victory in the tragic race of 1955. (Courtesy Association des Amis de Rob Roy; Copyright © Rob Roy – all reproductions forbidden).


North-East France
One of France’s lesser-known treats, the 48 Heures Européennes de Troyes will celebrate its 30th anniversary this year. Over a three-day weekend from 9-11 September, participants and spectators alike can enjoy a touring rally, static display and demonstration runs around the centre of Troyes. All accompanied by excellent food and the wines of the surrounding Champagne area!

Panhard-Levassor Dynamic X81 Parisienne from 1939 takes a break in Troyes.

Paris & the Ile-de-France
Back for a second time, Les Grandes Heures Automobiles promises two days of outstanding action on the old banked track at Montlhéry, on 24-25 September. English commentary will be provided by friend of Drive Guide, Guy Loveridge.

Waiting for the start at Les Grandes Heures Automobiles in 2015.

Peugeot 205 T16 evo1 Group B (Bruno Saby) on the main straight at Montlhéry last year.


Paris & the Ile-de-France
After Frankfurt last year, it is the turn of Paris to host its huge motor show, the Mondial de l’Automobile, from 1-16 October. See the latest models from many of the world’s manufacturers as well as an entire hall devoted to the history of the car (stay tuned for more details!).

Lamborghini Huracan on press day at the Mondial in 2014.

The special exhibiton at the Mondial in 2014 was devoted to cars and fashion, with this superb Voisin C28 Aerosport prototype one of the stars.

Central France & the Alps
Also taking place only in even years, the Embouteillage de Lapalisse is something else again … Join several hundred French post-war cars on the weekend of 7-9 October as they once again turn this village on the Nationale 7 between Moulins and Lyon into the bottleneck for which it was once notorious.

Approaching the Château de la Palice. (Courtesy Thierry Dubois,


Paris & the Ile-de-France
As FIVA’s World Motoring Heritage Year draws to a close, FIVA will mark its own 50th anniversary with a series of events in Paris from 16-20 November, including a seminar and social programme. Check FIVA’s own website ( for more information nearer the time.

Coming soon …

We will be publishing more blogs here during the season, covering things to see and do in France and – new this year – beyond its borders. Come back regularly, and follow our pages on Facebook and Twitter to keep in touch.

You can also click on the Events calendar and Downloads tabs on this web page to see all the events covered in France: The Essential Guide for Car Enthusiasts and download their address details to your satnav device.

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