Classic Car Club Outings, Summer 2008
Having been successful in getting our 1970 Triumph/Moss registered here in France a little earlier in 2008, we set off with three other couples (one other English couple and two French couples - also club members) in their cars on a real test journey for us, down to the Lot Region of France.
Before this, the Moss had covered just the 25 kilometres to Guéret (and the same back) for her Contrôle Technique certificate a few weeks earlier and that was the furthest she had been driven under her own power for over six years of sitting out in the open in all weathers before we went over to rescue her from Sheffield, in September 2007.
We departed for our Lot break early morning on the 1st May with the hood up as it was quite chilly. We had heard our neighbour (the club President with his wife) drive round from the little chemin below our back garden in his sporty Matra on his way to call for us and then we set off to meet the two other couples. We then had Monsieur C’s Matra, our Moss, J & J's Cobra Dax and M & E's Triumph Spitfire. Once the kisses, the laughter and the excited chat was caught up with, we continued on through Corrèze - which is another beautiful département in the Limousin.
I won’t cover the whole trip as pontnoir is mainly about the Creuse, but one of the villages that we visited is described in the tourist guides as being one of the most beautiful in France, Saint-Cirq-Lapopie and it certainly lived up to its name. We also went to Rocamadour and it was a good job we all had strong legs as it was quite some climb!
The whole trip was a great experience regarding the exploring of a different Region with French and English friends. The Moss did really well on her first major journey, much to our relief! We discovered a few jobs that would need doing but she didn’t let us down and Terry learned a lot about how the car performs and how to improve various aspects. We came home with the start of deep tans (perhaps I should be more honest and say very red noses and arms !!) as we had not thought to take sun-cream as here in Creuse it had not reached that sort of warmth before we’d departed, though it certainly had by the time we got home.
For much of the rest of May we were off on our once-a-year trip to the UK, so couldn’t go on any of the other May events.
Early in June was the annual event for racing classic cars on a circuit on the roads on the edge of the town of La Châtre - just inside the département of Indre. We set off in pouring rain (once again with the hood up) to meet J & J in their Cobra. They hadn’t thought it would rain so hard and had not brought their hood with them and were bundled up in water-proofs and were very wet and cold.
Luckily it stopped raining just as we got there but we hadn't realised that the cars would be parked in a field and it was pretty muddy underfoot. We two ladies decided that we didn’t fancy hurtling around a wet track so left that side of things to our men whilst we took photos of their fun!
The next really enjoyable outing was on the last Sunday of June. Most members met up at Dun-le-Palestel at 9.30am and we set off in the direction of La Souterraine and then over into Haute Vienne, stopping to visit the Tour de Bridiers on the way. Continuing in the direction of Bussiere-Madeleine, Saint-Sulpice-les-Feuilles (where another English couple of members joined us) we stopped for aperos at the lac Mondon.
An aperos stop is the norm on virtually all of our club runs. It used to amaze us but we are used to it now. One of the organisers opened his boot and out came a folding table, nibblies, plastic beakers, cassis, sparkling wine and orange juice for the children or for those who didn't want alcohol (not many of the adults opted for that choice, even the drivers!). We parked our cars under the trees beside the lake and enjoyed the respite from the very hot sun.
We then headed for a restaurant where lunch had been booked for us all and had a jolly couple of hours eating, drinking and chatting in the shade of parasols.
Next we set off in the direction of Champagnac-Baulieu and we visited the Brosses ruins, the Moulin de Chaillac which has been entirely restored and is functioning, then on to the musée des minéraux de la carrière de Barytine-Chaillac, then on to Saint-Benoit-du-Sault.
In the middle of July, the annual 2 CV weekend meeting was held by the lake at Ahun (6kms from our home). Terry went up the previous day to help set up the stalls and parking places and the organisers had provided an old 2CV to be set on floats to sit in the centre of the lake. We popped up in the morning of the first day just for a quick look and watched the Maire arriving in a 2CV pulled by two huge cart horses. We had other things arranged for that day and unfortunately it rained heavily for much of the afternoon. We later went to a friend’s BBQ and being English, we all sat huddled close together under their big parasols, sheltering from the rain and enjoying our meal with much laughter!
Next day we went up to the 2CV meeting again, this time in lovely sunshine. We watched all sorts of entertainment including people trying to ride some very unusual bicycles. One of the main attractions though was when everyone realised that the 2CV in the lake had started to sink! The two huge horses were harnessed and walked back and forth at the edge of the lake to acclimatise them to walking in water, then they were led closer and closer to the rapidly sinking car, had strong ropes attached and they gradually pulled the car out to much applause from the appreciative audience.
At the start of August we attended the fête at Naillat, displaying our cars with the others in the school yard. There was a huge brocante throughout the town and we had a lovely day enjoying the sunshine and the ambiance there.
Next was the annual weekend at the Saint Laurent airfield, just east of Guéret. We have attended this for each of the five summers that we have lived here and it has always been blessed with good weather. On the Saturday afternoon there is always an interesting tour of the area for the many classics that attend. Many come from other clubs in our neighbouring Départements and we have been introduced to routes that we have never driven before.
The tour usually takes in about 45kms of beautiful scenery and is always good fun. The start is always staggered or else it would be pretty difficult to keep track of about 50 cars in convoy and there is always a leader who has the route down to a T and everyone is handed a route sheet - just in case.
On the Sunday we took our collapsible “tent” to position over our car and J & J’s Cobra, to give us some comfortable shade where we could pass the time chatting once we had taken several turns around the many stalls and the brocante area. We then had to depart as our family was due to arrive from England that afternoon, bringing two of our grandchildren down to spend the rest of their school holiday with us.
Although it wasn’t a car event, two French members of our club had organised a “Family Day” at their home near Sardent and so we took our two grandchildren (aged 8 and 11) to their first really French experience! There were games on the grass, table tennis and a swing and a few other French children to play with, plus we took some of our own games for them to share with the others. They were welcomed and kissed by some 30+ French folk and they soon got used to this, offering their faces whenever we met French friends after that! They learnt a few French phrases too and were rather proud to respond with their own “Bonjour” and “ça va” (they learn Spanish at school, not French). The remainder of our August was taken up with our grandkids - so it flew by and we had a great time.
The last car club event that we were able to join this summer was on Patrimoine Day, 21st September. We had to be at St Etienne-de-Fursac for 8am and as it is almost an hour’s drive from us, we had an early start. We had never been to this town before but it is a very unspoiled, typically French town with a river running along the edge of the town. Once everyone had arrived we set off for Châteauponsac in Haute Vienne. This is another ancient town that Terry and I got to know quite well when we were first house-hunting. The town is surrounded by an old wall which is most appreciated when approached from the narrow bridge over the river. We were surprised by the enormous number of classic cars gathered there, as we’d had no idea that it was such a huge event. We registered then jostled in the town for a place to park and display.
We had been given the choice of three different tours round the Region (by distance) so we had plonked for the 50 kms run, so we took off on that. It was interesting and somewhat amusing as we got separated from the others a couple of times and the whole convoy was “lost” at one point! However, it was a hugely interesting and fun day.
This was much of our summer fun. We did other things, of course, including going to a donkey fête at Glenic where I was surprised at the number of donkeys, all looking very well cared for and much loved. We looked in on many brocantes and we took the children llama trekking, to local lakes, to the fun-fair at Limoges and to visit friends. We had lots of our own BBQs and spent time with friends in our garden or theirs and took picnics to Lake Vassiviere and to the Three Lakes area.
It was a good summer and now we are prepared for the winter months, taking our brisk daily dog-walks with Willie and spending cosy evenings in front of our log wood burners.