September 3rd to September 9th

Blois – Poitiers – Clermont Ferrand – Meyrueis – Le Puy – Lyon

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About

Each year we run Classic Europe, an event where participants drive their own vehicles. The tour is non competitive and open to any vehicle, classic or modern. Previous tours have included visits to Croatia, Romania, Portugal and Italy.

This year (2019) our tour visited Ireland – The Middle & The North. Our next Classic Europe tour in September 2020 will begin in the Loire Valley and finish in Lyon. The event is open to thirty vehicles of any model and any age. The navigation is easy and straightforward with no complicated map reading.

Beginning near the city of Blois we head south and east to eventually in the city of Lyon. Along the way we will visit places of interest including the Chateau of Chambord, the light show at Futuroscope, Le Puy-en-Velay, Oradour-Sur-Glane, & the Millau Viaduct. We will also take part in several activities including kayaking  down the Gorge du Tarn and cycling railway bikes along a disused railway. For a full itinerary see below. For a map of the route click here.

2019 Classic Europe Itinerary – 3rd to 9th September

Day 1 | Thursday 3rd September
We begin our tour with a welcome dinner in our hotel near the city of Blois. Blois is an attractive city and one could easily arrive a day early and spend a day visiting the attractive chateau and enjoying lunch on the banks of the Loire. Also, only ten miles away is the beautiful chateau of Cheverny which we are not planning to visit as part of our tour. If you did decide to spend a day in Blois and come a day early (on the 2nd Sept) I suggest you book yourself into a hotel in Blois as our start hotel is in the middle of nowhere several miles from town. Blois is about 5 hours from Calais or 3.5 hours from Le Havre.
Day 2 | Friday 4th September
Our day starts with a visit to the Chateau de Chambord which is probably the most recognised chateau in the world. Built in the early 1500s as a hunting lodge it is really quite magnificent despite the fact it was never completed. Staying nearby will enable us to be there when the doors open meaning we can avoid the crowds. The visit is self guided so you can spend as long as you wish. Leaving Chambord we head south to the museum of Mécanique Aviation Traction better known as Matra. The company is probably most well known by those of a certain age for the Matra Bagheera which was a three seater sports car built in collaboration with Simca in the late seventies. Among other items in their varied history, they designed and built the Renault Espace, made surface to air missiles and were involved in Formula one from 1967 to 1982, first as a constructor and latterly as an engine supplier. The museum is not large but worth a visit. Mid to late afternoon we will reach Poitiers where we have evening tickets to the science park of Futuroscope. The tickets include dinner which is followed by an open air laser and light show which takes place on the surface of a lake. We visited here five years ago on a previous Classic Europe and everyone enjoyed the experience.
Day 3 | Saturday 5th September
We will have a leisurely start from Poitiers as we head south east towards Clermont Ferrand. On the way we are calling in to Oradour Sur Glane. If you have never heard of Oradour it is a small French village. On the 10th June 1944 German soldiers rounded up all the male inhabitants in three barns and all the women and children in the church. A command was issued and simultaneously all were shot with machine guns or killed with grenades. The Germans then burned the village to the ground. Today what’s left of the village is preserved as a memorial. Leaving Oradour we continue towards Clermont Ferrand, home to the famous French company of Michelin. The Michelin museum in town charts the history of tyres and also contains a large section on the Michelin Man. Did you know he used to smoke a cigar? Our hotel for the night is in the town centre. You will be free this evening to have dinner at one of the many local restaurants. 
Day 4 | Sunday 6th September
In the morning there is the opportunity to visit the nearby Puy De Dome. Formed 11,000 years ago this is the youngest of more than 80 volcanoes in the region and attracts half a million visitors a year. It is just short of 5000 ft tall and prior to 2012 you were able to drive up it. Now the road is only open to emergency vehicles but it is still possible to visit the summit by train or alternatively you can drive halfway up and walk the last two kilometres to the summit which takes about 40 minutes. On a clear day the views from the top are spectacular.  Leaving Clermont Ferrand we head south towards the small town of Laguiole which is well known for its knife factories producing knives sold all over the world. On a Sunday the factories are not in full production but nevertheless they are open for viewing on a smaller scale. Naturally they all have gift shops attached where you can purchase knives. As well as knives the town is known for the production of Laguiole cheese which as you would expect you can buy in several of the shops in town. Continuing our journey south we soon reach the Millau Viaduct, one of the world’s tallest bridges. It was designed and built in collaboration between a French engineer and a British Architect over three years between 2001 and 2004 and cost almost €400 million. The bridge crosses the Tarn Valley and we will follow the river Tarn for a few kilometres before turning off towards our overnight stop in a lovely old chateau where we will have dinner.
Day 5 | Monday 7th September
First thing in the morning you have the choice of whether to have a lie in and a leisurely breakfast or to leave the hotel and drive the short distance to the beautiful Gorge Du Tarn. Here you set off down river in kayaks gently paddling down river through the most beautiful part of the gorge. We then drive up the remainder of the gorge before heading north east for a couple of hours where it will be time to give the arms a rest and use the legs as weather permitting we will take a gentle ride along a disused railway on rail bikes which are essentially pedal powered railway bogies. From here it is only a short run to our overnight stay in Le Puy en Velay. This is a town with a difference. As well as being the main starting point for pilgrims doing the Camino de Santiago pilgrim walk to northern Spain, each evening after darkness nine historic buildings are lit up by huge projectors showing a fifteen minute looping light show. You have dinner in town and then, as darkness falls, wander from one building to another spending as little or as long as you want at each.
Day 6 | Tuesday 8th September
It may well have been a late night the previous evening so we will have a late start as we head towards the city of Lyon. On the way there is an opportunity to call in to an interesting agricultural museum. The collection is privately owned and with luck the owner will be on hand to explain some of the oddities. By lunchtime we will arrive in Lyon where we are staying in a gorgeous hotel which was formerly a convent. Remaining derelict for many years it has now been turned into a very smart hotel. Our rooms are the cells previously occupied by nuns. From the hotel is it only a short walk to the funicular railway which will drop you into the heart of the old quarter. If you have never visited Lyon prepared to be surprised. The old quarter is delightful and has a real buzz about it and you could not go far wrong finding a pavement cafe to enjoy a relaxing lunch. The newer part of town too is well worth a visit. According to the tourist office the absolute must see in Lyon is the Confluence Museum which tells the story of mankind and the history of life. Unprecedented in the world of European museums, it sets up a dialogue between all the sciences to better understand the world. In the evening we will be having our farewell dinner in an unusual setting in the hotel.
Day 7 | Wednesday 9th September
Depart for home. If you are intending to visit Goodwood Revival next year the dates are the 11th, 12th and 13th of September meaning you have two days to travel the 760kms (475 miles) home.

Booking info & Cost

Cost £1180 per person based on two people sharing accommodation.

Included
Six nights accommodation in quality hotels (One night 3 star, remainder 4 or 5 star)
Four three course dinners – Self service at Poitiers
Parking at each overnight stop
Entry to Chateau de Chambord
Entry to Matra Museum
Entry to Michelin Museum
Entry to Vintage Farming Museum
A detailed and researched route book

Not included
The cost of the optional Kayaking in the Gorge du Tarn
The cost of the optional Railway bikes

What happens next?
Send an email to us at info@greatroadjourneys.com with your contact details. Alternatively call me for a chat on 01458 224109 or 07831 477746 and I will be happy to discuss the trip in more detail.

A deposit of £500 per person will be required upon booking Classic Europe, with the balance due one month before departure.