Journées d’Automne 2016 – Track Day & Road Trip
It’s become an annual pilgrimage, my third Journées d’Automne, a couple of hours east of Paris, at the Circuit des Ecuyers in Beuvardes. Imagine a wonderful group of friends all brought together by their love of classic cars. A weekend that the team behind the organisation (my boyfriend being one of them) has been doing for more than ten years. For the first few years at the legendary Bardinon family track, Le Mas du Clos and then in the Champagne region at Circuit des Ecuyers.
Journées d’Automne is a celebration of what this group enjoy the most, fast and stylish motoring. Whether in a pre-war competition car, a fast GT or a roadster, driving is one thing, but sharing a weekend surrounded by new and old friends, sharing great food and wine and enjoying beautiful scenery is something to be cherished.
To participate, first your car must be approved, pre 1974 is the standard rule (with a few exceptions) and the exhaust pipe must not exceed 95 decibels. Around 80 cars makes for a perfect group. Friends travel from the UK, Belgium, France, Germany, Holland and Luxembourg.
Arrive at a local farmhouse (location to be disclosed on acceptance of your vehicle) close to Fère-en-Tardenois on the Friday evening for a barn style bbq, serving only local produce. Think towers of rillette, magnums of Ronan by Clinet, vast local cheeseboards, and multiple tarte aux pommes. Layer up and keep close to the fire is my advice!
Remember the early start the next day, an 8am call time at the track. By 7.30am the local baker will have delivered fresh croissant to the track, and the Veuve Clicquot Airstream provides a constant stream of teas and coffees until lunchtime (the airstream provides plenty of Veuve Clicquot once the track has closed for the day, remember safety first!).
Above in my Canada Goose Wyndham Camo Parka
Between laps on the track you may venture into the pop up store, this year saw Atelier Auguste, Chapal, Cadot, Les Thés de Constance, Maison Tamboite bicycles and Leica all present new and much loved collections of driving kit and lifestyle gifts and gadgets. Laurent Ferrier, master watchmaker and ex Le Mans driver who has a passion for motorsports and fine craftmanship joined Journées d’Automne as a sponsor for the first year this year also.
Another striking new addition to the track this year was the London Routemaster bus which was driven for 10 hours to be with us for the weekend. The perfect viewing platform for the track, and filled with Leica cameras and binoculars to experiment with during the day.
The track breaks for lunch, and we all head to the beautiful nearby Château de Nesles for a banquette style lunch. Drive into the fort, park up and enjoy a feast before making it back to the Circuit for an afternoon of racing.
The afternoon is a perfect opportunity to join friends in their cars for a few laps. Deep breaths now, co-piloting can be a very nauseating experience if you’re a beginner, and I learned that the hard way.
The Clicquot airstream serves a steady flow of sweet treats, nutella crepes and haribo and by 5pm a toast to the drivers and cars begins the evenings celebrations.
Pilots and co-pilots will head back to their local hotels and B&Bs before a gala dinner and party back at Château des Nesles. The prize giving ceremony honours drivers who’ve come up against struggles to make it to the weekend, furthest distances travelled, and most celebrated cars.
Sunday, and always my favourite day of the weekend. We meet in the market square of Fère-en-Tardenois at 8am and wake all the locals i’m sure with the beastly noises. Plenty come out to see what all the fuss is about, many we hear look forward to our annual pilgrimage to this little market town.
Road books are handed out to map the days journey. Forget your Google Maps or SatNav, follow the road book to a T. You must collect all your stamps at each checkpoint to play the game correctly. (This is also the part where I squirrel as many mini croissant into my pockets for the morning drive).
Check point 2 ~ Ancien circuit de reims Gueux. Mr Journées d’Automne et moi below
After a beautiful morning driving along the Champagne route, we make it to our final check point, and destination lunch, Chateau Etoges. A beautiful spa hotel in the heart of Champagne close to Reims, with just a 90 minute drive back to Paris. The perfect weekend even if you aren’t as car crazy as your pilot.
LWSY – October 2016