Our trip back to Brittany 2009

Another tremendous success though a slightly different formula. This year we spent another week at Manoir Du Menec because everyone loves the place, the superb food and service are superb and Brittany Ferries offer a deal that includes the Ferry. We then drove 230 miles to La Giruadiere, an old Manor House in the Loire region near Chinon for another seven days. As always some chose both venues, some one and others some of each, so that we ended up with a slightly lower maximum this year of about twenty people. Money worries and health problems had taken their toll

Brittany is a wonderful place to eat and to motor around with roads that UK Classic car owners can only dream about. By comparison ours are congested, traffic moves very very slowly and pub food is decidedly unpredictable. Even though it cost fifty percent more than last year, thanks to the pound falling and French prices increasing, there is a quality of life in France presently missing from the UK.

The formula is a simple one and a contrast to many Classic Motoring holidays, in that we settle in one location and use evening meal times to make sure everyone knows everyone else and can organize trips together to locations that interest them in the day following. They can do as little or as much mileage as appeals in the knowledge that there many beautiful towns and villages to visit as well and many small ports or even beaches for enthusiastic paddlers. This best suits those who don’t enjoy motoring marathons and it is kinder to wives.

After a week we drove 230 miles to the Loire region to an old Manor House now Logis called La Giruadiere. It is about five miles from Chinon in one direction, a Nuclear Power station on the Loire in the other and close to all key Chateaux and tourist attractions. However there is much more to this region than Chateaux, the vineyards produce some of the best French wine, the roads are empty and there the most beautiful old villages and ruins (ourselves included) almost wherever one travels. If you know where to go, the Loire is a wonderful place to tour, but you need to do your homework if you are to avoid heavy traffic and the inevitable tourist trail. It was a very good week.

 

Although La Giruadiere was comfortable and pleasant they had subcontracted the restaurant since my last stay and, as a result, the food was disappointing. We’ve renamed La Petit Pigeonnier the “House of Mince” as a mark of respect to the Redditch trained French Chef. This was a mild disappointment and the only one, there was as always a wonderful atmosphere and it was obvious that everyone was really enjoying themselves. These events are successful because the people who attend them are so friendly and full of fun.

Guests of Honour this year were undoubtedly Paul Samuels and wife Rosemunde who had travelled from Australia to be with us for the full two weeks. Paul is a well known and very popular Collector, he was a founder member of the Australian RROC and he built the Race Circuit Wakefield Park. It was a great honour and a pleasure to have them both.

This was a very special year for the James family because it was the first year that I was able to bring my recently rebuilt Bristol 400, which completed 1700 trouble free miles, averaging 25 MPG, at least ten better than Norman Geeson’s meticulously maintained R Type! My son brought my beloved MKVI JTM50, that has done all five previous French trips as well as a Louis Vuitton in Paris and touring much of the UK. He loved it and did 350 miles in one day quite amazed by how relaxing a well set up one of these cars can be to drive. Sadly they are sufficiently different from all other cars to suffer terribly from poor servicing and maladjustment of almost every part with the result that many are not terribly pleasant to drive and their owners never realise how good they can be. There were three Bristols this time and an account of the 400 will appear shortly in www.jel450.com

 

If you are an old car lover who likes the sound of these trips, we’d love to hear from you as we try to decide what to do next year. I must admit I’m beginning to wish that someone else would relieve me of the responsibility for what has been a wonderful few years, so if you think you’d like to take over the reigns, please let me know, I’d be happy to help anyway that I can.

ashley james