Scouting Mission to Le Mans
In anticipation of my fourth Le Mans Classic experience and RPM’s second organised tour to Le Mans, we set out from Portsmouth on the overnight ferry service to Caen. The purpose of our trip was to search out the best route taking in great driving roads and scenic stopping points for breakfast and mid-morning refreshment.
It was a balmy evening and still 20 degrees celsius at 9.30pm when we checked in for our crossing. The crossing itself was smooth but with hindsight the decision to stay in the bar to watch the Australia v Chile match was a bad one as it left little time to sleep before getting woken again by the announcement to vacate cabins!
A suitable meeting point post disembarking was identified and then we fired the 996 down to Caen and around the peripheric (ring road) taking a little trafficked exit out to the South West of the city.
The roads were quiet and open and the 996 was soon into a good stride as we took full advantage of the quality tarmac that seems to grace even the smallest of French Roads (Hertfordshire County Council please take note!).
The challenge was to find a place for breakfast that could accommodate twenty eight people and have ample parking for cars. After several aborted attempts a suitable venue was found in a quaint market town about half an hour outside of Caen.
Refreshed we set off again and found some remarkable b-roads with challenging and rewarding curves and elevation changes. The flat-six snarling as it was worked hard through the gears. We arrived at our mid-morning stop happy in the knowledge the main party would enjoy this section of the road trip.
The stopover point was chosen to allow everyone the opportunity to stretch their legs and take in not only a great panoramic view but also some quintessential French town life complete with some awesome medieval architecture. We could have spent several hours taking in the sights and sounds but the final leg was calling.
Again taking an indirect route through an increasingly rolling vista paid dividends. Car and driver now completely united with the sole purpose of savouring the ever changing and ever challenging ribbons of black stuff! The 996 (with the exception of possibly a Cayman) providing the perfect compromise of accessible power, lithe handling and everyday creature comforts (for my co- pilot/navigator). Never did it feel like we needed more power and where road and conditions permitted, it could be worked hard to get the car up to cruising speed.
Our final destination St Leonard de Bois and the end of this blog was reached. As we entered the village limits a hard stab on the brakes and the accompanying heel/toe downshift brought the lovely sound of crackle and pop as unburnt fuel combusted against the sports exhaust system. Loud enough to turn the heads of a gaggle of school kids loading their kayaks into the stream adjoining the roadside. Parking up in front of the hotel and listening the tap and ping of the car rapidly cooling I reflect on how sometimes it is not about where you are going but how you get there that is truly the most important thing.
Written by Darren Anderson