Going to Le Mans Classic is a beautiful adventure, and surely no motorsport fan will be disappointed. However, there are a few details worth considering to avoid going bankrupt and make the experience of this wonderful event even better!
Beware of coffee traps!
Yes, I’m in love with Le Mans Classic, and love has this tendency to be blind. This year, Rafał made me realize that, as he is addicted to coffee. It’s the kind of obsession that when we flew together to London recently, we had to search for coffee all over Stansted because my travel companion decided we couldn’t leave the airport “without a quick coffee for the road.” That great road was about 15 minutes away from the airport, which separated us from breakfast… and coffee. So, when Rafał said during Le Mans Classic, “Come for a coffee, I’ll treat you!” I wasn’t surprised. And when did I realize it was a trap? Just the words “I’ll treat you” should have given me a hint! We wandered around for a good hour looking for coffee and took several thousand steps. By the way, during the event, people take more than twenty thousand steps daily. Compared to last year’s edition, there seemed to be far fewer coffee spots this year. We hastily finished the tasteless, burnt coffee because Tomek and his Jaguar were waiting for us!
Eating out of necessity
I don’t enjoy eating at de la Sarthe, and I do it out of biological duty because walking around the vast facility burns calories quickly. I believe that the food available in stalls and restaurants at the track is not of the highest quality. Besides, a spectator who has already spent over 200 euros on a weekend ticket might not be inclined to spend an additional 20 – 30 euros on a mediocre hot dog with fries and beer… multiple times a day. We noticed that compared to the previous edition, the food this year was weaker and less varied. One thing that remains constant is the price of beer, which costs 8 euros at the track. Additionally, there is a 2 euro refundable deposit for the souvenir plastic cup. You can return the cup and get your money back or keep it as a memento. Journalists and VIPs have access to a full range of amenities, including unlimited access to coffee and snacks in the stands above the pit lane. The only problem might be the towering guards at the entrance to these areas. That’s why I invite you to have lunch in Arnage!
Head to Arnage!
Just ten minutes by car from the gates of the Circuit de la Sarthe is the charming town of Arnage. The hotels and restaurants here are adorned in racing style, and everything revolves around the races on the track. Beautiful cars drive through the streets, creating a wonderful atmosphere. In Arnage, prices are much lower than in Le Mans, and most importantly, they match the quality of what you get on your plate. For the price of a trackside hot dog, here you can easily expect a hamburger with a substantial amount of meat or even a pretty good steak! Our favorite place for lunch and dinner is Le 70 Avenue. It’s a small restaurant with a diverse menu, reasonable prices, and delicious food! A local specialty and delicacy are the baguettes or bread with Rillettes du Mans, a type of lard somewhat resembling pâté, but definitely worth trying. While sitting in the restaurant garden, which usually adjoins the main street, you can enjoy your meal with a view of passing Ford GT40s or numerous Porsches. Especially in the evening, you can become part of fun games, like joining the Brits in toasting every passing Jaguar on the road. It’s unique and atmospheric!
Breakfast on the go
Depending on where you’re staying during Le Mans Classic, driving through Arnage, as mentioned earlier, should not be a problem and may turn out to be a lifesaver for the entire day. Last year, we stayed at the famous Hotel de France, where we had breakfast in the hotel restaurant overlooking beautiful classic cars. This year, we stayed much closer to the track in a rented house, so we could sleep in a bit and stop by Arnage for a quick breakfast on our way to Le Mans. We found a great bakery called Feuillette, where they serve baguettes with various fillings along with coffee and something sweet. Typically, we also added croissants to this mandatory set for the road because, after all, we’re in France! It’s really delicious! Finding a typical breakfast that we’re used to in Poland at the track might be challenging, so it’s better to think about it in advance. Although we enjoyed French specialties, eating in a rush doesn’t go well with their culinary culture.
The French don’t rush, especially when it comes to food, and they almost rival the Italians in picnicking. So, it’s not surprising to see picnics spread out on the grandstands and all around the track, especially in the area of car clubs. Picnic baskets come in all shapes and sizes, and if you’re attending the event with your whole family, it can be a fantastic solution for spending the entire day. Unfortunately, such an approach wouldn’t work for us because running from paddock to paddock requires a different kind of diet. But isn’t it a beautiful way to celebrate life?!
Words by Sławomir Poros Jr.
Photos by Maciej Jasiński & Rafał Pilch