Travel/Food 2018 – French Road Trip, Day 15, Pau

Saturday, May 19th – Day 15, Pau

We started the day with minis, but sadly, despite the “Mini Crunch” being much touted, there were just a few cars on track. I counted 6 at this stage, which is not enough for a race round Pau, especially if you hope to get enough back for a podium! I was quite glad that I hadn’t flogged down to the paddock for them, but had opted for the Boulevard des Pyrénées.

After they finished, I popped to the ASAC Basco-Bearnais’ office on the corner to pick up our invitations for an event that evening, and made sure they were distributed to everyone which meant it wouldn’t matter if we failed to catch up on our way to the event. We stayed on the upper levels to watch the interesting collection of cars in the next event.

Speaking of interesting, there were some terrifying shoes on sale. Quite why they were being sold at an historic and classic car event, I have no idea as they seemed to be mostly motorcycle racing related.

We spent some time at Pont Oscar, mostly watching slightly lunatic Caterham and Morgan drivers in alarming action both on the entry to the corner…

On the apex of it…

And on the way out!

Following the pattern of the previous week, we also took a stroll over to the exit from the monument, and watched for a while from there. The Bugattis were especially entertaining, attacking the kerbs enthusiastically…

Throwing themselves sideways…

And generally seeming to be having a lot of fun.

They also left a fair amount of debris behind. I reckon the marshals’ on that post were well on the way to being able to build their own car from scratch!

And because we are sick and twisted people, we hung about out there to watch the historic Formula Fords, which were plentiful.

And also sideways!

After they stopped we figured we’d go and hunt down some lunch. The brasserie at the Palais Beaumont was fully booked and so the Hotel Parc Beaumont it would have to be, with or without ducks this time. Fabrice, the member of staff who served us last time, was again on duty, so we soon had our aperitifs to hand.

Knowing we’d be out in the evening as well, and having no idea how much food would be involved, we figured we’d best stick with just one dish each. I ordered a burger, again. This is something I never do in the UK, largely because I don’t trust the average burger in the UK on the grounds of either quality or provenance. This was very good, and thankfully not scarily big. It did come with a rather alarming amount of frites though.

Lynne ordered the goat’s cheese salad, from the starters. It looked good and she wouldn’t let me have any, so I have to assume that it was good.

To drink we chose another Provençal rosé, Commanderie de Peyrassol 2016, AOP Côtes de Provence because it’s a fine lunch time wine.

Even though the cars had stopped, it was very noisy in the park, mostly down to these little fellas. There were frogs everywhere, doing what frogs do in the spring, creating more frogs. It you got close they all dived into the water and hid in the lily pads, but if you were very still you could sneak up on them.

As soon as the Legends hared out, they seemed to think they had competition from larger, louder frogs, and so they stepped up the level. The ponds were a riot, as was the circuit.

A walk in the park revealed many lovely old classic cars, being polished, photographed, admired and generally appreciated. It clearly got a bit too much for one individual in the MG area.

While we were wandering about there was a somewhat unexpected blink-and-you’ll-miss-it fly past by the Patrouille de France, the French Acrobatic Patrol. They didn’t come back so I’ve no idea if there was meant to be a display or if they’d come over from somewhere else. You had to be quick to catch them though.

One of the cars I liked best in the park was this cute thing! It’s owners even cleared the area behind it so I could get a good shot of it. It’s good to see that friendliness is a common feature or classic car events.

However, the car I would have liked to steal is this gorgeous Citroen.

We went back to the Boulevard to watch a couple more of the qualifying sessions, enjoying seeing the Bugatti class in action from another angle.

And then we thought we’d better go back to base and get cleaned up.

In the evening we had tickets for the Nuit des Legendes de l’Automobile in the Palais Beaumont. We met up at Les Contrebandiers, all dressed up and ready to go out. The invitations had said “tenue de soiree” and when we reached the park it did indeed look as if everyone had taken the wording to heart. In the UK these days at least half of the men would have shown up in t-shirts and jeans, but not here. Everyone congregated on the terrace where canapes and Champagne were on offer, the latter free flowing very generously. Apparently they were also prepared to sell you some bottles to take home should you be feeling both strong and relatively flush. Champagne de Venoges were the ones displaying such largesse, and very generous they were too.

We were stuffing ourselves silly on the canapes, which were served by the team from the Hotel Parc Beaumont, including Fabrice. We accused each other of stalking, and had a good laugh about bumping into each other so often.

Wave upon wave of canapes seemed to be forthcoming and eventually we had to call a halt and wait until we got inside before eating again.

One more first though…

There were cars assembled around the pool in front of the terrace, and it was lovely to stand out there and admire them.

Eventually they called us in at around 22:00. The room was nicely laid out, and we were led to our table by one of the young, enthusiastic staff.

There were speeches, historic film of the event through its history, and much talk about what the future might hold, with a suggestion that they were aiming to become the “Goodwood” of France. They have some way to go but they do seem to have the passion to achieve this, especially if the “modern” Grand Prix becomes a thing of the past. Between the speeches the main, of veal, arrived and for a catered event it was pretty good. However, most of us were too busy focussing on the screens and the stage, where Jacques Lafitte was holding forth about what the event means to him.

We’d earlier had a telephone interview or two, including Alain Prost calling in from Monte Carlo.

It was all very celebratory and good fun, and with plenty of wine around the mood was buoyant. After the speeches finished, dessert was forthcoming.

By now it was getting very late, and we had another day of motorsport ahead of us. We declined the coffees, and headed for the hotel and another night of not being able to get to sleep until the wee small hours because of the racket outside.

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