We Booked a Trip to Le Mans!

Joseph and I booked our first big trip! Well, it is the first trip we've booked, but it isn't until June, so won't technically be the FIRST trip. We booked a trip to Le Mans, France - specifically, during the Le Mans 24 Hours 2016

I'm very excited!

The endurance race takes place Saturday through Sunday June 18th-19th. We'll fly into Paris the Wednesday before and take the train to Le Mans. From the town, there is a tram to the center of the circuit. We'll be staying trackside in a tent village. 

We booked through a UK company called Travel Destinations. We called using Google Voice and booked with one of the sweetest, chattiest Brits I've ever had the pleasure of speaking with. There are a few different levels of hospitality from public campsites to a "Flexotel Village." This is what's included with the Event Tent that we booked:

Staying in a tent will be interesting, I'm sure. The race is only Sat and Sun. On Wed, there is a practice race that we may be able to catch depending on travel timing. On Friday (or Thurs? I don't remember what with all the words he was saying) there is a parade through the town - a big celebration with all the drivers & some of the race cars & classic race cars. I think that will be a really fun night.

I've been learning a bit about the event since we booked. 24 Heures Du Mans began in 1923 (with 10 races being canceled - one for a labor strike and 9 during World War II) and is called the "Grand Prix of Endurance and Efficiency." It typically includes around 50 competitors in a few different classes. The winner is determined by greatest number of laps in the 24 hour period since they changed it to a rolling start. Also, 24 Heures du Mans was the catalyst for widespread safety reforms in motorsports after a tragic accident during the 1955 race where a car crashed into spectators killing 80 people.

There's more to do than just the race, of course. The old town of Le Mans has the third largest wall of it's era (after Rome and Istanbul):

About 1,300 yards long, studded with 12 towers, it wraps around the immaculately preserved and restored Plantagenet Old City. This is a maze of narrow cobbled ways, overhung with 14th Century timber-framed houses in medieval hues of blue, lavender, green and red. It’s a short stroll to the sleek Museum of Archaeology and the Musée de Tessé, a fine art museum with a 3D facsimile of an Egyptian tomb.

I mean, come on! That sounds right up my alley. Apparently, Le Mans is the size of Lyon but with only a sixth of the population because so much land has been preserved as green space. Of course, when we are there, there will be many more people than is typical - they expect around 150,000 to attend the race. There is - what I hear to be - a spectacular cathedral dedicated to Saint Julien of Le Mans, the city's first Bishop. Plus, botanical gardens, and the tomb of Queen Berengaria, wife of Richard the Lionheart, and an automobile museum that houses the cars of 15 winners of the race!