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Le Mans 2017 newbie - help needed with plans

Le Mans 2017 newbie - help needed with plans

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Dave Thornton

Original Poster:

171 posts

65 months

Friday 25th November 2016
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I'm going to Le Mans in 2017 - it will be my first time and there are 2 of us going. I've just bought an R8, so it will be extra special. Apart from going by ferry from Portsmouth I don't quite know where to start - there is so much info and so many ways to do it, so looking for some decisive advice!

1. Ferry - which day and is a day or night crossing best (for each direction)? (I want to be amongst everybody else getting there)
2. Accommodation - I'm open to camping or glamping but don't have much luggage space. Otherwise a cheap hotel or B&B. I assume that staying some distance away and driving in and/or getting a shuttle bus is the best option?
3. "Watching hours" - what's the best way to plan the time? Watch from the start until midnight, go back to the accommodation and return in the morning, or stay at the circuit all night and into the next day fuelled by coffee?
4. Aside from entrance tickets, accommodation and ferry, what else needs to be prebooked?

FredericRobinson

1,155 posts

148 months

Saturday 26th November 2016
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1. If I was going from Pompey I'd go for a Tuesday or Wednesday over-nighter
2. Look at pre-erected tent options, Travel Destinations do them, others may well also, hotels anywhere near won't be cheap, anyway you should stay t the circuit for the proper experience
3. Stay at the circuit, then you can play it by ear
4. Just accommodation and ferry really, entry tickets can be bought on the gate but will be part of the package if you get a camping deal, grandstand seats too if you go that way, I've never bothered, all need booking sooner rather than later.

DS240

2,295 posts

134 months

Saturday 26th November 2016
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Dave Thornton said:
I'm going to Le Mans in 2017 - it will be my first time and there are 2 of us going. I've just bought an R8, so it will be extra special. Apart from going by ferry from Portsmouth I don't quite know where to start - there is so much info and so many ways to do it, so looking for some decisive advice!

1. Ferry - which day and is a day or night crossing best (for each direction)? (I want to be amongst everybody else getting there)
2. Accommodation - I'm open to camping or glamping but don't have much luggage space. Otherwise a cheap hotel or B&B. I assume that staying some distance away and driving in and/or getting a shuttle bus is the best option?
3. "Watching hours" - what's the best way to plan the time? Watch from the start until midnight, go back to the accommodation and return in the morning, or stay at the circuit all night and into the next day fuelled by coffee?
4. Aside from entrance tickets, accommodation and ferry, what else needs to be prebooked?
Well done on planning your first trip. Going down in your R8 will feel special also.

1. I think the majority travel to get there by Thursday evening as events on Friday around the circuit are worth being there to explore. Dover/Calais or tunnel probably busiest route. From Portsmouth though I imagine you'll be heading to Cherbourg or St Malo. I head down from St Malo as I get the ferry from jersey. There isn't really the flow of cars you'd get from tunnel or Calais though. Simple route to Le mans from st malo if you stick to the motorway, but it doesn't take too much longer heading on a scenic route and more enjoyable driving roads. I head across Thursday morning, getting into village mid afternoon.

2. Depends on the level of comfort you want and whether you want to be based at the circuit or a short drive from it. Loads of tour operators offer packages from tents to hotels, on or off circuit which you can look at. In my opinion you pay a lot more than what you need to for the event by going down this route, but I can see how it's convienent for some. If booking yourself there's plenty of choice going DIY off the circuit, just needs a bit of searching. Done this for years and stay on a B&B basis in a village a short drive to the circuit. If you pick carefully, getting to and from the circuit and parking can be no hassle whatsoever.

3. Depends how hardcore you want to go! Done the full 24 at the circuit a few times, but it is punishing. Leaves you absolutely knackered, but is also strangely satisfying. Last few years for us has been arrive before the start, watch till 8-9, go off circuit and get a proper meal somewhere, freshen up and then go back from 2300-0100 ish. Then back to bed till about 0900, heading back to the circuit mid morning till the finish. But our timetable is a balance to keep everyone happy and the weekend enjoyable.

4. Get accomodation sorted asap. Tickets, depends on what you want. General entrance tickets can be bought on the gate, but worth getting prior to save on hassle. Grandstand worth some consideration as it gives you a place to go if it's either boiling hot or raining, but needs booking early. Circuit parking (if required) also worth buying beforehand. Not much else really other than your travel plans.

The beauty of the event, especially if you do go back year on year is that there are loads of options to try. Over the years you can refine your set up. Always plenty of people to ask advice either on here or email.

SEE YA

3,485 posts

161 months

Saturday 26th November 2016
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First Choice, off site or on site camping.

I leave Wednesday night arrive Thursday car moves on Monday when we leave.
I go from Plymouth to Roscoff nice easy route to follow.
A blast in the car, at the right time.
Beermountain good site for advice.

//j17

2,722 posts

139 months

Monday 28th November 2016
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1. If you want to see lots of other interesting cars en-route then you want a Thursday/Friday Dover rather than Portsmouth crossing. Quite simply from Portsmouth you've just looking at the cars on your ferry. From Dover you've got a lot more crossings/day, both ferry and Eurotunnel all feeding on to the same route.

If Dover's not practical then I'd go for an over-night crossing - with cabin. First off you can probably work the day you travel, saving a days holiday and both driver and passenger can have a few beers before bed, before waking up fresh for the drive.

2. As a first-timer I'd always say camp on-site to get the full experience, probably going for one of the private camping options. This means you only really need clothes/small tent/sleeping bags as there will be a big marquee with hot food and beer. You'll also be able to buy cheap, disposable versions of things easilly in Le Mans (e.g. tents/sleeping bags/airbeds/etc).

3. It's up to you and your stamina but I'd watch the start upto the point you need food, then go back out to watch some night racing. Before bed's fine but getting up in the early hours to watch from dark-to-dawn is better.

4. Passport. Obvious but there's usually at least one post-race confession about a forgotton/out-of-date passport.
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gt6

954 posts

101 months

Monday 28th November 2016
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Well some good advice but will add my pennies worth,
get there as early as possible, great fun on Wdenesday and thursday evening as the cars do the qualy sessions and with less people around you can see more and even drive to the other viewing area's (arnarge at night is a must do) great atmosphere in all the campsites so make that part of the experience.
Camping is my preference but to be honest you are rather late for close by hotels so it will probably be camping anyway, most of the better camping options will be gone by now but there will be some at the agencies i am sure. You will be able to buy camping equipement and bulky items down there so as long as you have a tent, sleeping bags and cloths you will be ok. (big decathlon just outside the circuit).
Get tickets when you arrive no more expensive and always available.
Must do when you are there
Talk to fellow campers they will always be happy to share experience/beers
spend time walking the circuit and if you can visit mulsanne and arnarge viewing area's
visit the museum and look around the village(centre of main area
take a radio/radio ear phones to listen to radio le mans
enjoy yourselves

kith

367 posts

161 months

Friday 2nd December 2016
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Have secured a hotel room through a travel agency so am good to go. I don't fancy paying the mark-up on tickets with them, what's it like buying tickets on the gate - long queues?






FredericRobinson

1,155 posts

148 months

Friday 2nd December 2016
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You may well be able to pick up an entry ticket on here for less than face value nearer the time. Get there early in the morning and you'll be fine, plenty going on from 9am, if you're driving in get a parking ticket now.

kith

367 posts

161 months

Friday 2nd December 2016
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FredericRobinson said:
You may well be able to pick up an entry ticket on here for less than face value nearer the time. Get there early in the morning and you'll be fine, plenty going on from 9am, if you're driving in get a parking ticket now.
Thanks. I'll head in early on the Saturday then. Hotel is near the tram line so I'll leave the car there.

Thinking of giving the Grandstands a miss, they don't seem great value and I can't imagine I would spend much time there. Having said that, I don't fancy being on my feet for 24 hours.

Anyone tried the Panoramic restaurant? Looks like a nice option for a bit of comfort.

FredericRobinson

1,155 posts

148 months

Friday 2nd December 2016
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I've never gone for a grandstand seat, bring a deckchair and a big brolly for if it's wet and you should be fine, depends what you want though, I think next year will be my 14th, and I've never seen the start or finish from the main area, but then I've always camped at Tertre Rouge and it's always been more tempting to stay on-site.

Mattygooner

4,984 posts

120 months

Friday 2nd December 2016
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As much as you might hate it, the camping for me is a major part of it, or rather the atmosphere and sitting out front of your tent with a lovely soundtrack (of cars and not overly loud German techno) and a cold beer with your mates is a big part of it.

If you camp, do It properly, proper showers and cold beer are always good to have on tap.

GBW is a good gathering to go to on the Friday, be prepared for a lengthy exit.

Be prepared to stay up or drink enough that you cant hehe, the first time I went I stayed up pretty much the whole night watching.

Don't eat at the circuit, its pretty crap and overly expensive, you are in France, they know a thing about food so do a bit of research and find nice places to eat each night in and around Le Mans Town centre and Arnage.

Go to the Town Centre for one night for a beer, its a nice town square and a nice place to have a beer in the sun.

Take all weather protection, if it rains it really rains but if it is hot then it is really hot, you are most likely to get both at some point!

Get a grandstand seat, we go for the Ford Chicane but up around Dunlop would be good. It will give your legs a rest and in most cases get you out of the sun (or rain) for an hour or 2 to watch some racing. Also go to the Porsche Curves, its quite a sight to see them going through there, also impressive at night as watching the blurred tail lights gives you a sense of speed that they are taking the second corner in.

Don't take fireworks or lanterns, everyone else hates you because they don't want their tent to burn down or their Car to be damaged.

Enjoy it, it is a cracking experience if motoracing, drinking and eating is your thing.

MrC986

1,665 posts

107 months

Friday 2nd December 2016
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OP, you could do a lot worse than looking at the PH/1st Tickets options where there are 2 main campsites with the option to just take secure camping/clean loos/showers etc right up to the option we take where you can have pre-erected tents and catering aka "glamping" as MrsC calls it (the option we've taken for the 4 yrs we've been going)

http://www.pistonheads.com/gassing/topic.asp?h=0&a...

Also, if you get yourself organised and go either to Caen or Le Havre on the ferry, you might be able to join a group travelling down on the back roads and to enjoy the "experience" even more thumbup

Troubleatmill

5,401 posts

75 months

Saturday 3rd December 2016
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Download the guide here

Everything you need to know.

http://www.clubarnage.com

MadMacMcMad

1,174 posts

170 months

Sunday 4th December 2016
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I would recommend a grandstand, certainly for your first visit. Helps you get your bearings and gives a good base.
Best is T18 ACO. This is opposite the pits and the only one with loos, bar. food, showers.

You have to be an ACO member and they are sold out from the ACO, but can be sourced from agencies.

Best of the rest IMHO is T16 Sommer. Pit exit opposite one of the big screens.

The Leaper

2,586 posts

122 months

Sunday 4th December 2016
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Best of the rest IMO is Racordimet which is right by the Ford Chicane. You get to see all the chicane action, cars going up the pits straight, cars entering the pits, and there's a large TV screen opposite. I am an ACO member and I have been in T18 and I still think Racordiment is the better of the two, although T18 is great for Le Classic Le mans because of the pits straight action. Been using it since 1996. Very handy for Parking Blanc too. And the tunnel to get to The Village on the inside of the circuit.

I am an old geezer so you'd expect me to recommend a grandstand seat! I've never been without it.

R.

OvalOwl

792 posts

47 months

Tuesday 6th December 2016
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First time I went I was in T20 on the pit straight with two big screens in sight. But the next two years I opted for T4 Panorama just before the Dunlop Bridge. You get a good view of the cars as they sweep up round Dunlop and brake hard into the chicane always plenty of action with some drivers misjudging it, though I missed the best of it when I got up for a wander. There's a big screen right opposite on the inside of the track and with Radio Le Mans you won't miss anything.

It's handy for the village, or a wander down the pit straight at night. We got a parking spot in parking Rouge and loaded the car with food and drink to avoid on-track mediocrity and expense. You see lots of the locals set up at mealtimes.

An absolute must is the new spectator viewing bank at Indianapolis at night. You see the cars come round the kink at the end of the straight from Mulsanne hard round Indianapolis, squirt through to Arnage and blast off towards the Porsche Curves. You can get really close to the cars here, feel the noise and see the discs glow. Access is a lot easier if you're driving there now with the new roundabout still open during the race but it's best to go round the circuit in the same sense the race does; go down parallel roads to the east of the circuit and avoid the road at the back of the stands.

Edited by OvalOwl on Tuesday 6th December 19:13

slartibartfast

3,493 posts

117 months

Monday 2nd January
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As it's your first time you HAVE to stay awake for the whole 24hrs of the race!
which is a challenge in itself!
first year I went (2008) I did it, felt a legend but since then I tend to stay up til I feel like falling over due to beer/wine/no sleep then go back to tent and get some sleep, wake up, more beer, freshen up and go back to the circuit.
just go and explore throughout the whole race, try different places of the circuit.

Arnage throughout the night is amazing watching the brake discs glowing as they decelerate for Arnage corner, there's food and beer available there, the rest you'll easily work out while there.
take a radio with headphones and listen to radio le mans so you know what is happening/happened during any incidents which there are many of.

relax, take a sense of humour, enjoy.


Dave Thornton

Original Poster:

171 posts

65 months

Monday 2nd January
quotequote all
Thank you all - we now have a plan!

Ferries - Portsmouth to Caen Thu morning and return Mon morning (it was an extra 450 miles to go via the tunnel)
Thu night - hotel 30 miles from Le Mans
Fri and Sat night - airbnb flat in Le Mans centre - take tram to/from the circuit (runs 530am-1am)
Sun night - hotel by the ferry
general entry tickets purchased - we're not going to get grandstand tickets so we can be mobile and see the race from as many vantage points as possible.

Now we have a framework, we can work on the detail. We may or may not go through the night - we have the option, but expect we will walk the entire circuit over the 24 hours.

FredericRobinson

1,155 posts

148 months

Monday 2nd January
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I think the trams run through the night on race weekend

slartibartfast

3,493 posts

117 months

Tuesday 3rd January
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Dave Thornton said:
but expect we will walk the entire circuit over the 24 hours.
laugh good luck with that, hope you have amazing walking boots!

realistically you can only go from Tetre rouge down to Mulsanna corner via the westside of the track unless you are lucky and can blag your way onto marshal enclosures along Mulsanne (possible as I've done it a few times) or are willing to black op it through forests or some how manage to get inside someones garden or hotel.

you could start at Tetre rouge then past start/finish/grandstand, inside or outside of track to view ford chicane then a 20minute walk to Porsche curves enclosure (inside of track) then it's a long walk from the tunnel at porsche curves almost all the way to Arnage village (away from track)making a left down to Arnage corner and Indianapolis (follow everyone else) then another very long walk to Muslanne corner and from there it's very difficult to get along the east side of the track either inside or out but possible if you're really up for some blagging or inside knowledge. (never done it)