Day 3 – 11 Apr
Today we explored Circuit des 24 Heures du Mans and the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Chartres (Chartres Cathedral). We rode through the following cities and towns along the Liberty Road:
- Le Mans liberated on 8 August 1944
- Chartres liberated on 18 August 1944
Circuit des 24 Heures du Mans
A large sign greats visitors to the race course which is currently 13.6 kilometers (8.5 mi) long, making it one of the longest circuits in the world.
The Musée des 24 Heures du Mans is a museum containing nearly 100 years of La Mans racing memorabilia to include race cars, models, clothing, and artwork.
When I hear the word “hybrid” I think of fuel efficiency cars like the Toyota Prius. However; this 2016 Porsche 919 Hybrid should change your mind. Its 4-cylinder, 2.0 liter, twin-turbocharged engine and lithium battery rocketed this car to numerous victories. Top speed is an impressive 345 km/h (214 mph)!!
I love how it went from the race course to the museum; including all the scratches and gravel from the race track.
Artwork, in all varieties decorated the museum walls and displays.
Although the Le Mans has primarily been a European event, the “land of the rising sun” made history with this rotary engine powered 1991 Mazda 787 B Maquette taking the podium!
Ferrari best successes in the late 50s and early 60s with seven wins.
My favorite racing era is the late 40s and 50s…
…because I think the cars of that generation are some of the most beautifully designed with their timeless aerodynamic curves and lightweight simplicity.
These French D.B. race-cars look great in blue!
The 30s was also an exciting time for sports-car endurance racing.
A British 1935 Singer Nine (green) and a 1931 Aston Martin International (black)
Check out all the safety equipment of the 30s!
My favorite Le Mans car is the Porsche 550 of the 50s. This car is what I feel is the ultimate sports car: small, aerodynamic, and simple. I also think it’s pretty sexy! Original 550s sell for more than six-million dollars!! Perhaps, someday, I may have a drivable replica.
Le Mans also has a history of motorcycle racing. Check out these vintage helmets and goggles.
1933 BMW R11 with its classic 2-cylinder opposed piston engine.
After the museum, we walked to the track to watch student enjoying driving Audi performance cars on the track.
Placing my hand in the same place British driver Allen McNish placed his after winning the 2013 Le Mans.
A unique experience and and enjoyable two hours learning about a race steeped in history.
We continued along enjoying the French countryside and relaxing two-lane roads of the Liberty Road.
The French commune of Chartres is beautiful with its world-famous cathedral.
A mural of a man wearing a hat is painted and shaded using a technique of small circular spray-painted dots.
The main door to the impressive Chartres Cathedral. This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site because it preserves the best of French Gothic architecture.
The cathedral is famous for its unique labyrinth which is made from stone tiles. Unfortunately, there was chairs covering much of the labyrinth so we were not able to walk along the paths. I understand that each Friday from 10 am to 5 pm from Lenten season to the “day of the saints,” the chairs are removed.
The impressive north transept rose window built in 1235.
All the large stained glass windows create a relatively dark but richly coloured interior. I especially like the violet blue surrounding the choir.
The experience of being in the town center when the cathedral bells began to sound was comforting and created a memory that will forever remind me of Europe.
We found a camp site right in town with friendly service and a large field to park our mules and set up the tent.
Tomorrow we’ll continue along the Liberty Road heading east towards Reims.
Continue to Day 4…