After my time in Paris I headed West to Le Mans. To tell you the truth I knew little about it apart from the fact there was a very famous race track there and that Steve McQueen had made a movie about it, why not visit I say! I took the toll road again, this time costing a whopping 17 euro! I thought that was a bit steep so I’m going to stick to the back roads from now on. I arrived in the quaint little town, greeted with the sunshine, it was 25 decrees out which only enriched the experience all the more. After a quick visit to the tourism office I had a rough plan of what I was to do in Le Mans.
The old town is absolutely incredible, with a cathedral similar to Notre Dame in Paris with the Gothic style extension on the rear of the church being built at a similar time period. The old town was still very much being used, with all it’s ancient architecture, different houses had been rebuilt through the centuries adding a different look and style to the streets. It is amazing to see the timber that they used still in good condition! I meandered around the town like a man who had just been given the gift of sight. Inquisitive and fascinated at how it all came to be.
After some time I headed to Le Mans track to see the cars and bikes on display in their museum. It was as if I was on holy ground there, reading all about all the legendary people who had pioneered the automotive industry we know today. How the track had been a testing ground for people like Enzo Ferrari and Ettore Bugatti as they designed cars that would open new possibilities for the automotive industry, they would push the boundaries on what was thought to be possible. They had some impressive track cars and all sorts in the museum, it was well worth the visit. It just so happened that the Moto GP was on that weekend so I decided, why not?! How often does one get the chance to see Valentino Rossi race on the Le Mans track?
I decided I would try couch surfing for the first time, I jumped on the app and sent away a couple of messages, and within an hour I got a response from a lovely French lady Beatrice. She was a couch surfing pro and has taken care of many people over the years. She was happy to host me even on short notice. She was hosting 3 other people at the time also, they were from Portugal. It was really nice to meet new people and have a nice meal. One thing that was even more amazing, was having a warm shower! A few people have been curious as to how I am managing to shower while sleeping in the back of my car. Well, I try to park up close to rivers outside main city areas and I just take a quick dip. I also have managed to get quite good at showering with a 2 liter bottle of water. Matt came up with the idea and it has proved to be very affective, it is a great way to conserve water too! But back to my original point, a warm shower was sooo good!
I checked out more of the area the next day as the races would start the day after, I got a good feel for the city and it’s surroundings. My new Portuguese couch surfing friends left that morning and a new couch surfer arrived from Belgium, he was a photographer coming to photograph the Moto GP. We went to the races the next day, I have never seen so many motorbikes in my life! As you may know, motorbikes have become a big part of my life in the past year as it has been my mode of transport while in Asia. The races were quite exciting to watch, I just happened to be in the right place at the right time to see four crashes on the first day. The skill of these riders was amazing to see, they have their elbows and knees scraping the ground as they hit the corners at a ridiculous pace.
The first 2 race days flew by, on the final day I had to park 1.5km away from the track as parking was absolute mayhem around the track. It was a blisteringly hot day, everyone was out with their “46” jumpers, caps and t shirts, all avid fans of the Italian racer Valentino Rossi, sycophancy would be an understatement. It was almost as though he was the only one racing, as he was the only one people were really cheering for. He came in second after an impressive catch up from 5th place. However he couldn’t catch Jorge Lorenzo who held a strong first place, he was just too quick. It was an amazing experience to witness world class riding.