Any and all suggestions re: general admission or reserved sear; hotels in or near Le Mans, anything else.
We went in 2012. My husband, a racing nut, vowed never to go again. It was so crowded that you couldn't walk through some areas. More importantly, the ambulances couldn't get through the crowd to help people who had fallen off packed general admission areas.
We had seats in the bleachers near the Dunlop bridge. They were great seats, but the weather was so bad that they were almost empty.
And....they were right next to the stage where a rock group was rehearsing for a performance that night. The group was so loud that we could not hear the cars on the track.
I bought our tickets online, but somehow I thought that the reserved seats included admission to the track. Wrong! I missed the fact that we had to get general admission tickets in addition to the reserved seats. Once we learned that we needed general admission tickets, we wandered around for a long time trying to find the place to buy them. So long in fact that we missed the start.
My husband wanted to see the start, the race as it got dark and the finish the next day. He was so disappointed that we left after about 2 hours. The whole experience was so miserable for him that we didn't even go back the next day.
I think we could have had a decent experience if we had been better informed before we went, so here are some tips.
- Start looking for lodging very early. We didn't know that we were going to France until January. By then, we had to get lodgings an hour drive away. There were many other race fans staying in the same place.
- There is a tram from downtown to the track. If you have to stay far away, and depending on where that is, you may have to drive to town and park. You can also park at the track with special reservations.
- Make sure you get general admission tickets in addition to reserved seats.
- Do not get reserved seats close to the carnival area, no matter how good the seats are.
- Bring your own toilet paper. Don't expect the toilets to be clean or well-supplied.
- Bring your own food. It may be France, but the food is typical track food.
- If it is rainy or has rained, wear shoes that will handle the mud. The place becomes a quagmire in the rain.
- Get off the tram when everybody else does and follow the crowd.
That's all based on our experience. Hopefully others will respond with theirs.
Carrying your own toilet paper is always a good idea in France. And being prepared for the seat thieves.
Thanks for providing the "RS Insider's Guide to the 24 Heures du Mans". lol
Seriously, I'm happy that you & your husband were able to attend. Despite the warts, it must have been thrilling. Attending Le Mans (along with the Monaco GP) has forever been on my bucket list.
I'll be visiting France for the first time next month, and have seriously considered detouring to the Circuit de la Sarthe just for the opportunity to drive the Mulsanne Straight. But in order to maintain marital bliss, some things must remain unfulfilled. :-)
Monaco (along with Monza) on my bucket list, Le Mans experience hardly sounds like a race at all. I've been reading about it in car mags for years and it just doesn't sound like much fun.
One requirement on our first trip to Europe in 2009 (together and his, not mine), was that he drive the Nurburgring. It was a great thrill for him. He got a race-prepared car from Rent Race Car. He did 4 laps and would have done more if he could have.
He's a hobby racer of a Formula Ford here in the States, so any trip we go on has to involve racing in some way, usually a visit to a racetrack and/or driving at least on a Kart track. On that first trip he also went to the Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch and we went to Belfast to see the Crossle "factory" where his car was built. His car is the blue and yellow one in the front of this picture. Note that all the drivers are in their cars except him. He's always later than the rest! That's me in black in the shade in the chair behind his car in this picture. Those pictures are from this event in Portland, OR. He typically doesn't do vintage racing, but this was a special situation.
Another thrill for him was visiting Spa-Francorchamps and going on a walking guided tour. Unfortunately, there was a group racing there that day, so we didn't get to go on the track, but Spa is his favorite Formula 1 track anywhere.
Back 5+ years ago, and even more recently, it seemed like any question posted here that dealt with racing or racing circuits in Europe got almost no responses at all. I know that was my early experience. Racing, especially open-wheel, is such a big sport in Europe, I was kind of surprised at that. It's nice to see some others posting here with interest in it.
I was in Berne last year during the Texan GP and was able to watch it in French, German or Italian on adjoining cable channels in my hotel room! Pretty funny.
Thanks to all who took the time to respond to my question re: Le Mans, 24 Hour Race. Everyone's thoughts will make our experience much more successful. For any of you who still need to experience a 24 hour sports car race, and it's right here in the US., try the Rolex Daytona 24 hour race. Usually run the third weekend of January. Excellent organization, tons of parking, manageable crowds and the restroom facilities are "robust."