Out of the 250,000 fans that make the annual pilgrimage to the great race, more than 50,000 of them make use of one of the official ACO campsites. The following section provides details of most campsites, where they can be found, the atmosphere of each and some of the pro’s and cons.
A personal comment about campsites: Hi, Slash here, as editor of this current revision, I have been reading the reviews from various forums, and it has become apparent that there is no one size fits all rule for these campsites. The same things that attract some groups to a site, are the very things that put other people off. Our merry band have over the years stayed on most of the sites, Houx was great at first, BSJ was fab when we had no tickets, we met some really nice people on Expo, others had their attractions, now we find Bleu Nord suits us fine. In short this is, at best, a guide you must try the sites and make your own decision. If a site is not right for you, don't blame the guide and never return, try a different one next year. Trust me there is a right site for you somewhere, you just have to find it!
Please Note: The campsites at Le Mans are constantly evolving, some have been reduced in size (Houx Annexe and Maison Blanche), new ones have appeared (Dairon, Pincenardiere) and others disappeared (Hunaudieres). All of this makes it extremely difficult to provide you with an accurate picture, don’t take the information in this chapter for granted!
In the official documents of the ACO, most campsites are described as “Lay By”, which is a poor babelfish-style translation of the word “Aire” – a rest stop or campsite without permanent facilities - usually a field(s) with portable toilets / showers. The current regulation is that you need one ticket for each vehicle regardless of how many people/tents are in it. There is also a rule that your space is limited to 35 m² including the place for your vehicle, e.g. 5×7 meters, this is being increasingly enforced, with guides leading you to a pitch and staking it out depending on the number of passes you have bought. Like most things at Le Mans this becomes less controlled as the week wears on, but if you want to be sure you and your mates will have enough room, you need to book sufficent pitches. Rumours are, that all pitches will be numbered sometime in the future.
Campsite tickets: These should be booked well in advance; please have a look at the chapter “Tickets” in this guide for the booking procedure. Campsite ticket prices in 2012 are in the range from 32 € to 267 €, depending on location, facilities and services offered. The campsite tickets are officially valid during race week from (2012)Sunday 10th 9:00 am to Sunday evening 17th for most sites, but Arnage and Mulsanne sites do not open until the Wednesday. Many people stay until Monday morning - or have to stay, depending on their alcohol level after the race!
Campsites with numbered pitches: Houx, Houx Annexe, Maison Blanche, Bleu Nord, Bleu Sud and Karting Nord have numbered pitches. This means you have the peace of mind that arriving on Friday evening will not mean squeezing all your kit onto the 2 meter square patch left in a far corner of the field.
Campsites without numbered pitches: Each campsite has areas that are better than others, e.g. it’s a good idea not to pitch too near to the road to avoid being covered with dust. It’s also a good idea not to set up your tent too close to trees or you'll have loads of people walking past to go for a slash. So, if you’re picky, and need some shade or access to water supply nearby, it’s best to arrive Wednesday or Thursday at the latest. In the past people arriving after Thursday lunchtime could struggle to find any space on their chosen campsite, even though they had a valid ticket. These poor, unfortunate souls were then diverted to other campsites by the organizers, mostly to Beausejour.which usually has spare space and which is probably the best bet if you arrive without any campsite ticket at all.
Facilities: Most showers & toilets are serviced by local people. It is polite to leave a tip when using the facilities but not mandatory. Towards the end of the week some of the toilet facilities become less pleasant and a supply of your own toilet paper is a good idea. Shower and toilet facilities in general have been improving year on year, and continue to do so. Hot water is now the norm rather than a treat, and people have stopped pinching the loo doors for firewood!
Refreshments: The usual temporary burger/kebab vans or huts. You can live on it, and at times it tastes great! Prices are set for the event, so don't expect it to be cheaper up the road, it won't be. In hot weather the campsite cafés run out of water pretty quickly. Make sure you have enough when waking up with a hangover.
Swimming pool ban: Due to a record low rainfall, water restrictions were in force in this part of France in 2006, e.g. a hosepipe ban for private households. Quite understandably the A.C.O. had to ban the use of swimming pools on the campsites as a consequence. Since then the organizers decided to ban swimming pools completely, most likely to reduce the water usage, so it’s best you leave your paddling pools at home.
Alcohol-in-glass-bottles ban: In 2011 the local government introduced a ban on alcohol at public events arenas. In Le Mans terms this translated to the confiscation of all alcohol in GLASS containers being taken on to campsites within the track. This was zealously enforced at the begining of the week, but as is usual restrictions became more relaxed the nearer we got to race day. It is worth checking the forums before departure for the experiences of early arrivers.
For 2012 the ACO ticket brochure lists 14 different campsites: Arnage, Beausejour, Bleu Nord, Bleu Sud, Dairon, Expo, Houx, Houx Annexe, Interieur Musee, Karting Nord, Maison Blanche, Mulsanne, Pincenardiere and Tertre Rouge. Although Heronniere is listed as a car park see comments below in Bleu section.
Arnage is one of the 2 A.C.O. campsites remote from the main race village. It is about a 10 minute cycle ride to Arnage village, and when the track is not in use, a similar distance to Mulsanne village along the track itself. The site spans the area between Indianapolis and Arnage corners, but there is no race view possible from your tent due to banking for general spectators between the site and the track. You do need a spectator ticket to get from the campsite to the track side: the standard “Enceinte Generale” works fine but there is also a discounted ticket available that allows spectator entrance to only the Mulsanne and Arnage viewing areas (and not the main village or grandstand areas).
The campsite is a large, mostly flat rectangular field providing about 250 pitches and edged on the south side by a predominantly birch coppice which provides some shade from the midday sun. The ground is pretty soft and somewhat marshy in places, obviously dependent on recent rainfall. Facilities are minimal: there is 1 tap available near the spectator area. However, there are obviously full facilities for the track side catering vendors (water, electricity) and a couple of the more enterprising regulars tap into these. Inside the campsite itself there are no ablutions, however in the spectator viewing area there are portaloos and a shower block portacabin. The track side catering facilities are only active during qualifying sessions and the race – Friday morning you have to sort out your own “pick-me-ups”.
Arnage officially opens on Wednesday at 9am – no earlier nights can be purchased. Since 2009 the site is pegged out into 5*7m (unnumbered) pitches by Tuesday evening and the evening audit on Tuesday in 2010 had 16 French numberplates, 4 Brit and 3 German already on-site. By 3pm on Wednesday the hardy regulars have taken their places but the site was only about 25% full (2008). Arnage is pretty cosmopolitan – a mix of large motor homes, caravans and tents from car and bike folk. A numberplate audit on Thursday morning revealed the French were the largest group, closely followed by the Brits and Germans with cameo roles for Belgium, Denmark, Dutchies, Norway & a sole Swiss. There are quite a few folk who use it for dormitory purposes: Frenchies from 100km or so away who pitch their tent on Wednesday and only sleep in it on Saturday.
On Friday morning the Gendarmerie close the public road corner that goes to/from Indianapolis to prevent Mad Friday circuits of the public part of the track. In general getting around on a bicycle is easy although the road to Arnage village can get busy, and the road to Mulsanne or Maison Blanche is occasionally in use by some very fancy Audis & Peugeots. During the race itself the Navette stop (see left picture) is right at the entrance to the site so getting around to Mulsanne & the main village is possible: hitching at the exit of the public car park is also easy.
A recent comment:
2009: Arnage was fine, although still needed lump hammer and 6 inch nails instead of tent pegs! However 1 accessible toilet, 2 ladies loos, 1 gents toilet and 2 urinals for whole of campsite AND viewing area was woefully inadequate, (although kept reasonably clean it has to be said). Mini-shower block (3 tiny cubicles) was impressive though, hot water throughout the weekend. Usual dodgy characters appeared post race, but enough people were still around to ensure they were limited to wandering around the rubbish piles.
Entrance: The roundabout at the junction of Chemain Aux Boeufs and D92 Route de Tours. GPS Co-ordinates (WGS84) N 47°56.19', E 0°12.93'
Over the last 4 years, the organisation has changed considerably and mostly for the better.
There are two pitch sizes available 35m2 (7m x 5m) and 105m2 (7m x 15m). For the first time last year, the site was open from Monday instead of Wednesday. The toilet and shower blocks were brought into service from Monday onwards as required as the site filled up.
They were kept in good order by Veolia attendants with toilet roll and hot water always available. This was a definite improvement on previous years. It is still worth having your own supply of 'Andrex' just in case!
The pitch layout sizes were arbitrarily applied by a 'security' person pacing out and knocking in stakes. They had once again improved their PR skills and were more amiable in 2009. As always speaking a little French helps the situation.
It is still beneficial to arrive as early in the week as possible to secure a decent pitch. Happily you no longer get people who have paid for 2 pitches marking out an area the size of Southampton leaving little space for legitimate pitch holders arriving on Thursday or Friday.
There hadn't been the prolonged period of rain before the event like in 2008 so the ground was fairly firm throughout. The deep ruts of previous years were thankfully absent and the terrain manageable.
It is a good walk to and from the main circuit via Chemain Aux Boeufs. In fact if you are camped at the back of BSJ, when you reach the campsite entrance, you are only half way to the circuit! Luckily, towards the weekend there is a little 'Toytown' train that runs between the campsite and the circuit entrance at Technoparc.
It is though within easy walking distance of Arnage village where there are shops and restaurants and the Friday afternoon 'Parade'. Worth a visit as long as the boys don't get too silly.
The campsite now has it's own viewing area on the inside of the Porsche Curves. This has to be one of the best views anywhere on the circuit. It's prime for photographs as you are on the inside of a curve so the choice of optimum angle is endless. There was a 'Burger Van' at the foot of the banking in 2009 which appeared to do sterling service. The usual 6 Euros for a 440ml 'pint'.
Forum comments about Beausejour:
2009: “The toilet/shower maintenance for 2007 was pretty dire, the 'visiting' contractors who seemingly replaced the 'resident' French peeps who had previously done such a great job were hopelessly inadequate. But for 2008, the 'resident' French peeps were back, and once again the toilet/shower facilities were kept in pretty good order. Whether or not you get a 'hot' show has always been a bit of a gamble, and certainly not before the official opening day of Wed! This year the site is officially open from the Monday, so hopefully all the facilities will be fully working from the start. The entrance was still an almighty cock-up with everyone, vehicles & pedestrians, forced through a narrow 'contra-flow' gate that only worked if everyone using it employed a bit of common sense, that didn't always happen! One thing that was better last year was that the road with the 90 degree turn immediately inside the gate was wider, therefore larger vehicles could actual negotiate the turn without running off the road into the mud as in previous years.”
2010: “The days of turning up at BSJ, picking your own spot and claiming as much space as you felt inclined (regardless of how many pitch tickets purchased) have long gone. You are now allocated your pitch on arrival by 'security' on a first come first served basis starting at the 'front' of the site and working deeper into the field(s) as it fills. They also measure your pitch space, and you will only get as much space as your ticket(s) entitle you to. The free shuttle buses are a bit of a godsend, the village area is certainly walkable if you are reasonably fit, (we've done it lots of times, it's about 1.5m/2Km) but it's not an enjoyable trek when it's very hot, or you are very tired. Unfortunately at very busy times the queue for the bus to the circuit can be quite long, you might have to wait for the second or even third bus to come along to get on. The timing of buses, certainly at busy times, is quite frequent, but also seems to be a bit erratic, I suspect that sometimes there are a few buses 'missing'. I'm not sure I would rely on the 'last' bus home to actually make an appearance, you may well find yourself with no choice but to walk!”
2011:“Beausejour was its usual self. like last year we stayed right at the back, after the forest bit. Without going into too much detail it was a case of ups and downs, i'm not bothered eitherway as it was the best leman ever for me but the security guards stopping me with a slap on my CF bonnet isnt how i want to be treated upon arrival, i solved this by getting out of the car and telling the guy not to do it again. it might not matter to some and it might sound pedantic but i dont want someone literally hitting my car after a monster tiring drive from salford to la sarthe. i speak arabic and alot of the guards/security were from libya/algeria so after a chat and a laugh with them the situation improved. The camping itself was fine, we had ten cars so we covered alot of space, the usual french invasion was fine too as we had a perimeter and regradless we knew the chaps from last year, along with some english lads in our corner too. Showers were spot on and toilets really really well maintained. When i was at the race (getting hit in the face by McNishes rear wing lol) I could see strong black smoke in the distance, it later transpired that someone had knocked a BBQ over on our site and it had spread like wildfire. My younger brother who had stayed behind was pulling bikes, tents, belongings out of the way as the fire engulfed a audi A3. the fire brigade arrived about an hour later. for a 19 year old kid to do all that whilst loads of people stood around was beyond me.”
There is an extra area within Beausejour with 105 m² pitches reserved for larger parties, e.g. people arriving in a large coach, allowing 3 cars or 2 campervans (<7m) or one really big motor home (<12m).
Camping Bleu is located just outside the circuit opposite the Maison Blanche entrance. Entry to Bleu Sud and Bleu Nord is on the junction of Boulevard des Italiens and Route de la Heronniere. Camping Bleu is divided into two main areas:
Bleu Sud: This is the smaller part of Bleu and is next to Boulevard des Italiens, running alongside the road where “Mad Friday” activities have tended to take place in the past, although these seem to have moved elsewhere in recent years. The site is mostly grass and is generally flat and quite good for getting tent pegs in. There are one or two areas of slab concrete and a gravel road runs right around the site which can kick up a lot of dust in a dry year. There are a few big trees for shade. In 2008 pitches were numbered and pegged out, but this was not consistently enforced.
There is one toilet block, in 2008 there were no showers but according to the latest brochure for 2009 showers will be available now. Water standpipes (7 x double taps) are located running down through the centre of the site. The taps are on timers where you press the tap and get a measured amount of water. There is no opportunity to attach hoses to the standpipes, unless you bring a plumbing tool kit!
In 2008 a large area at one end of Bleu Sud was fenced off for the Lotus 7 Club. They had a self contained encampment with their own showers, toilets, music and catering facilities.
Bleu Nord: This is a very large site located between Parking Bleu and the perimeter of the Airport and has become increasingly popular with CAers since the gradual shrinking of Maison Blanche. The site is grassed but there are some big pot holes and dips that make some of the pitches difficult to use and hazardous walking back to your tent in the dark. The ground is generally good for tent pegging, but some areas are very sandy and don’t hold well, although the ground drains well if it rains! There are a few trees alongside the road on the southern side, but the majority of the site is clear ground. The pitches are numbered and marked and this is generally enforced; the numbering system can be confusing, but there are generally guides on bicycles at the accueil who will show you to your pitch when you arrive. Avoid driving over any bare patches of burnt ground on the pitches as you arrive - the site gets used for the bike races earlier in the year, and these patches will generally have been created by burning pallets - so check before driving over them and clear them of nails etc before driving over them or pitching on them; similarly, check first for broken glass as well.
Most of the site is set out in double rows with access roads in between, which double up as fire breaks/access for site and emergency services, so don't spill out over your pitch onto them. Larger groups booked onto adjacent pitches/rows will need to keep these lanes clear. The centre of the site has a large fenced, controlled enclosure, within it which is the 1st Tickets/Pistonheads site. Shower, toilet and water standpipe facilities are located near the middle of the site and near the site entrance; they are just about adequate for the number of people on the site, but you can expect queues at peak times and pretty much at all times from Friday evening onwards.
Bleu Sud is fenced, but Nord is a very open site, so theft from tents and pitches can be a problem, particularly on the latter; howevet, taking normal, sensible precautions (such as not leaving attractive items out on show, not leaving kit in tent entrances or at the sides of the bedroom compartments, locking any valuables in cars etc) will keep your stuff protected and in your possession. Access to and from the sites and into the circuit is generally good throughout the week, apart from the few hours before the start of the race and shortly after the finish. Route de la Heronniere acts as a good short cut to Arnage village and the Super U, and into Le Mans during the week; although it is closed to cars during qualifying sessions and the race, it can still be used on foot or bicycle (2.4km/1.5 miles approx from Bleu to Super U).
Bleu attracts a very international crowd with race fans from across the continents and set ups ranging from the highly sophisticated to the French family sleeping in their old Renault estate. The atmosphere is pretty relaxed and easy going. In the past it has not tended to be particularly noisy but that has changed a little at the northern end of the site since it became one of the main sites for the Club Arnage crowd in 2009!
Parking Heronniere: This is a small field behind Bleu Sud and although it is officially designated as a car park it seems to have evolved into a bit of an overflow area for Bleu or an unofficial campsite in its own right. There are no facilities at all in this field.
Forum comments about Bleu Nord and Bleu Sud:
2008: “We didn't have any problems on BN, except for a minor one on arrival where our 2 adjacent pitches were actually on opposite sides of the gravel track, at a diagonal as well! However we luckily sorted this as the ACO had done exactly the same with the English family next to us, so we just swapped. Our pitch was therefore just south of the toilet block beside the 1st-for-tickets enclosure (Blue MG ZT and Clio Williams parked up). About 20M from the 6 foot beer pyramid. So just watched the toilet and shower queues ebb and flow. Note for anyone arriving early next year in this area (R 14 place 76) water and electricity are available if you are quick.”
2008: “Bleu Nord is similarly well laid out and marked up with little pegs confirming each pitch number. Unfortunately the girl on the gate had only been given half the map so couldn't tell them where their pitches were, but they've found them now!..”
2007: “… An overpopulated sandy field far too close to the extremely busy airport with no facilities and even less appeal than camping down stream from a cow byre. But that’s only my opinion and I don't want to influence anyone.”
2007: “Bleu Sud, we've been on there for the last 3 years. We have had no problems finding a good sized pitch on the overflow, arriving on Thursday afternoon, Friday is a different matter. Security wise we have had no problems apart from the Sunday evening pikey invasion, but the benefit of Blue is that you can be down the back roads and away straight after the champers. We have never had a traffic jam yet! Getting in and out during the race is a doddle too. It’s a longer walk back to the tribunes etc. but a walk through the white car park is no hardship, loads of tasty motors to keep you happy…The site has a good atmosphere, not too rowdy, just right and getting a bit of kip is just about possible without earplugs”
2011: “Bleu Sud was once again awesome. Not the best for facilites as it has no showers but we take a shower tent and connect the hose, job done, and the atmosphere in camp was great whenever we were there. Also it's usually quick to get away from the circuit after the race … For us it's the perfect location, easy to get to the track and easy to get to Arnage for the supermarket or a quick-ish walk for evening drinks. Didn't hear of anyone getting robbed but the camp did get done in 2010.”
2011: “First time on Bleu Nord for us - normally on BSJ, so nice to be closer to the track! Seemed quiet in comparison to BSJ (although the music until 5am was no different), showers and toilets were fine. When we arrived another group had camped on our pitches, and after 20 mins of casual indifference from the campsite supervisor (who simply had to get involved) we were told to pitch at the end of the row, where we got a much larger area. We had our charcoal stolen from the gazebo one evening, but luckily one of the other groups had spare they donated. Would definitely go back to Bleu Nord.”
One of the newer campsites(established 2008)it is sited inside the track in the general area of the Porsche Curves. Originally seen as an overflow for Beausejour campsite next door, it has now become an official site.Facilities seem to be rather basic, no showers. Its location on the map shows that with an estimated 30 minutes walk, it’s quite a hike to the start/finish area and the village. The nearest viewing area, which is the Porsche Curves section, seems to be about 15-20 minutes walk away. Reports about this campsite are of course not yet available, so if you stay there, some comments for next year’s edition of this guide would be appreciated.
This is one of the smaller sites, and is outside the circuit, but just a few minutes walk to the main entrance and the automobile museum. On first view, this place does not look very charming, but it has definitely a few advantages. There are lots of cattle sheds on this field, in which many people pitch and which can be a big bonus when it rains heavily (dry dining area, dry tents) or when it is extremely hot (shade). Another bonus is that there are high fences all around and no pedestrian through traffic, therefore security can be rated more highly than at other campsites. Much of the ground is concrete and even in the non-concrete areas, trying to get tent pegs in the ground is a challenge. Some people take a cordless power hammer drill to start the holes for the pegs. It’s easy to find and access by car, as it’s near the main entrance, but you can expect some traffic jams around the entrance during the weekend. Facilities like toilets and showers are sufficient and generally kept very clean. Water supply is good and it’s worth taking some cable and French adapters with you, as with a little bit of luck you might be able to tap some electricity.
CA Forum comments about Expo:
2006: “We like it as it is close to the pub, not far from main gate, close to the fair etc. We normally try and get a run of the pens. The big advantage being is you can put a ruddy great padlock on them and feel your kit is slightly more secure than in a tent. Also good for keeping dry. We even rigged a shower up in one of them. After the first time, we left the tent pegs at home and brought a pack of 6 inch nails and a lump hammer & never looked back.”
2007: “You could always try to shoot down one of those low flying aircraft flying into the airport with your fireworks”
In the last couple of years the largest part of it – the field between the 2 cowshed blocks - see the aerial view above - was booked by a Danish tour group with several hundred people, lots of noise and their own, grim looking security force. Opposite this campsite there is the bar/restaurant “Aux Portes du Circuit” (also known as “Janine’s” to some CA members), a popular hang-out for many race fans who sip their cold beer on the outside terrace and watch the burnouts on the street in front of the restaurant..
Situated south east of the main village and inside the circuit, Camping Houx provides one of the quieter camping areas as well as one of the more attractive. It’s just a 10 minute walk from the Village via a footbridge over the permanent Bugatti circuit - this will bring you out in the western corner of the site. Camping is on numbered plots. Most of the site is set within tall pine trees that provide a degree of protection from the sun (or rain!). The western side of the site is open fields and is more exposed. The site tends to attract a quieter, more mature crowd. One major downside of Houx is that the size of the pitches is strictly limited to app. 35 sqm. These are all marked out and are only big enough for a decent size frame tent plus the car, or one medium size motor home. There is a good covering of grass across the site and the ground will take a tent peg easily. The big advantage is that you don’t need to worry about finding a place when arriving late, e.g. on Saturday, as you have a reserved pitch. The quickest walking route from Houx to the circuit is back up to the village and onto the pit straight or Dunlop Chicane. Alternatively, exit the campsite via its North Easterly gate and stride out across and beyond Houx Annexe. You will find yourself at the Esses or Tertre Rouge within 15 minutes.
CA member’s comments on Houx:
2006: “We stayed on Houx a couple of years back as we couldn't arrive until Friday so it was good to know we had a guaranteed pitch. The showers and loos are excellent. With only an AH Sprite and a two man tent the pitch size was more than enough. My only beef was that some people spilled off their pitches and blocked the 'alleys' between pitches so you couldn't get your car out / in if you wanted to.”
2007: “lots of the pitches have trees in them and if you get one it's very difficult to get a car and your tent on the pitch”
2014: “The cleanliness and security at Houx has been dramatically improved since 2011. The toilet blocks were constantly stocked with paper, and the security stayed until Monday morning - first time we've seen that. The permanent squat block is as “European” as ever, but if you venture to one of the portakabin style loos they have normal bogs.” The campsite was as friendly as ever, everyone has their favorite spots but we'll definitely be there again this year.”
Access by car: Houx is easy to navigate to and from by car, as it is served by the roads that make up the circuit’s infrastructure. As such they won’t be clogged up with through traffic. The only issue is during Friday afternoon and evening when the Houx Annexe roundabout that lies on one of Houx’s main access routes becomes swamped with inebriated race fans baying for burning rubber and tyre smoke. There is an alternative route out via Karting Nord.
As a result of a football stadium building project and a new tram station Houx Annexe is much smaller now compared to previous years, when it was the largest campsite. For a few years the site was divided into 2 areas, Houx Annexe Nord and Houx Annexe Sud but after 2009 it became a single site with numbered pitches. Situated to the Eastern side of Camping Houx, and also inside the circuit, the Annexe has only its name in common with Camping Houx. This site is a 15 minute walk from the Village via the northern loop of the Bugatti circuit or the Esses corner. The corner at Tertre Rouge can be reached in 10 minutes, with the Esses complex accessible in only 5. The Mulsanne straight stretches out beyond the trees to the East of the site and although concealed from view it provides a cacophony of noise! This is arguably the most noisy and rowdy campsite for would be campers. If fireworks, sound systems and general party time are what you want, then Houx Annexe is for you! Expect little sleep, dust everywhere (when hot) and a thoroughly diverse mix of people and nationalities. Friday night at Le Mans in general is not for the faint hearted - this is even truer on Houx Annexe. As well as the sound systems that go well into the night/morning there is also the roundabout burnout session to the South East corner of the site where all are welcome to perform burnouts, doughnuts and anything else that takes your fancy - see the “Mad Friday” chapter of this guide for more details about this.
The Tram station is on the verge of the site and provides a fast and cheap route straight into the centre of the city.
Forum comments on Houx Annexe:
2006: “It's inside the circuit and close to the 'village', grandstands, Tertre Rouge/Stella Bar, museum, Esses, fun fair, …… there's decent toilets, water standpipes and we have great bonfires!”
2006: “Houx Annexe for us, clean bogs, good showers, numbered spaces, electric hook up, shop / bar and if you’re lucky to get a pitch amongst the trees you get shade as well.”
2007: “…there is one small drawback. Those bloody great pine cones (they are about the size of a cola can) have the habit of falling out of the trees quite regularly at that time of year, and the trees are quite high (no, not from the strange tobacco some people smoke, I mean high as in tall). So, if you have a decent motor or value your paintwork, be VERY careful where you actually park it.”
2008: “This year, we arrived at around 3am again on Wednesday, missing the road at first and without any signs we asked the Houx security were HA is. “A droite”. Without any checks whether we have Nord or Sud, whether we pitch up 7×5 or 10x10m and without anyone controlling the setups it was great fun like BSJ '06 or Spa-Francorchamps. Seen many Nord tickets on the Sud part, btw, so there was no organisation at all, no pitches marked at all, nothing. And the atmosphere was stunning”
2011: “The site was quieter and smaller than last year”
2011: “We stayed at Houx Annex this year after being in MB the last 3 years. We all thought HA was meant to be a party campsite but we just found it really quiet & pretty dull!”
2011: “The campsite is quite a nice area and always a good crowd. People are respectfull of noise and always some good music playing and always some nice cars with the TVR crew being there. There is always some mucking about but always sensible. The campsite is pretty close to the village so no monster hikes. Toilets and showers are ok but the “normal toilets” are few and far between and not always cleaned at peak hours!!! Used to be good for mad friday but in the last few years it has got more and more quiet as the muppets have favoured it at one of there viewing points”
Access by car: This site is easy to navigate to and from by car, as it is served by the roads that make up the circuit’s infrastructure. As such they won’t be clogged up with through traffic. The Carrefor supermarket is within easy access via the N138
New for 2015, the entrance is situated opposite the entrance to Houx and Houx Annexe. It is well situated - Terte Rouge is about 15 minute walk (either past Houx Annexe or jump on the mini train to the MMM arena area if you have tired legs). The main village is also not far away, just through Houx and shortcut through the Bugatti Circuit).
Access by car: Epinettes is easy to navigate to and from by car - accessed by the same routes as Houx. As a result you have to run the same guantlet of Houx Roundabout area on Mad Friday - keep windows up and doors locked unless you want to get wet.
Interieur Musee is the strip which runs inside the 'Bugatti Loop' i.e. on the side of the unused (during the 24 hour race) Bugatti circuit. Originally there were 2 bridges which crossed the circuit and Interieur Musee lies between. These bridges were replaced in 2005 by 2 tunnels when a great deal of earth moving took place. Advantages of this site are being very close to the action; you can be trackside within 1 minute, in the village within 5 minutes or in the pits within 10 minutes and you are able to get in and out of circuit by car pretty easily. This site has a good bunch of regulars and has been described as very free and easy going, with no allocated spaces. There’s room for your party tent and you can always meet others who pass by/stop for a chat on their way to the circuit. Drawbacks are the dust - better to camp away from the vehicle/pedestrian thoroughfares and the noise - it bothers some, but others find it a part of the fun, and it's not as loud as at La Chapelle or some of the other sites. As in many other places the ground is very hard, 6 inch nails as tent pegs have been recommended.
CA Forum comments on Interior Musee:
2007: “I think it's a great spot providing you pitch up at the far end. To do this you need to get there by Wednesday. People generally turn off to go over the bridge before they get anywhere near our tent. One year we pitched closer to the entrance and hated it. Loads of people walking past and our tent got raided.”
2006: “Great to be near the action, but lots of “passers by” are all seemingly quite happy to barge past your cars and walk through your gazebo to cut the corner”
2005: “The atmosphere is great. As for the “visitors”, it depends where you pitch. If you can get right up the far end (as we always try to do), you generally are left alone.”
Facilities: Used to be just a couple of taps and a portacabin with 'squat and thrusts' and washbasins. These are now defunct and since 2006, new good quality portacabin showers, washbasins and toilets are within 1 minute in La Chapelle (under the tunnel and close to Dunlop Bridge). Also the new toilet/shower facilities within the village are only a short stroll.
Situated to the south of the village and directly adjacent to the circuit, Karting Nord offers some of the best viewing from any of the official campsites. Prime lots are along the fence that separates the site from the track. Motor home owners often get to the site on the Monday to ensure a prime spot so that they can watch the race from their deckchairs on top of their vehicles while sipping beer. Ear plugs are obligatory!
A lot of organized bus tours from Denmark have used this site in recent years. It is a 20 minute walk from the Village via a tunnel that takes you underneath the permanent Bugatti Circuit. The site lies on the circuit infield at the exit of the Porsche Curves. The ground on Karting Nord is of variable quality; the few areas under the shade of the trees will take a tent peg easily but the majority of the site is made up of slightly harder soil, meaning hardened tent pegs and a substantial mallet are a benefit.
All pitches are numbered.
CA forum comments about Karting Nord:
2008: “KN was actually quite well organised with ACO bods on bikes taking people to their pitches. There were some stupidly marked ones (with a tree, stump or lake in the middle of them) and a few people we saw complained and got re-allocated”
2008: “…the lower down the field you get, the worse ground conditions are if it rains like it did in 2007. Plus immediately after the race, it's gridlocked for a long time”
2005:”“…is full of 'organized' Danes, but you can camp close to the track if you have a small tent and vehicle and can then get amongst the trees and camper homes.”
2007: “Good shade under the trees and just a short walk to the track at Porsche Curves (there is also a small section where you can film/photograph without bloody catch fencing. Its also interesting to note that at this point you do not have to have a ticket to view the circuit if on foot, just head towards Karting Alan Prost and watch from the car park, so take note all you cheapskates!). Lacks the atmosphere of other sites, but plenty of space…. Ground is as hard as nails, heavy duty tent pegs are required and putting up your fences will be hard work. Was easy to get in and out of during race.”
2007: “… is a campsite that is near the exit to the Porsche curves as you head down towards the pits. Hence you can see the cars from your campsite. Makes finding out who is still in the race on the Sunday easy (i.e. if you are too hung over to work a radio). The toilets and showers are the same as on any other site, usually a queue, normally not much hot water, reasonably clean … It is quite an international site with a good mix of Danes / Brits and others.”
Access by car: Access in and out of the site is easy as the site is served by one of the roads that make up the circuit’s infrastructure meaning it won’t get clogged with through traffic. The quickest way to leave the circuit is by heading south and under the track but as this route can get clogged at busy times you may want to consider heading north via Houx Annexe.
A large site opposite the Ford chicanes, which many CA members have chosen as their favourite. From Maison Blanche, the Village may be reached on foot in only 5 minutes via a pedestrian underpass that comes out under the shadow of the media centre and the first of the pit lane buildings. The eastern edge of the campsite actually borders the circuit at the exit of the Porsche Curves, and runs along the circuit’s final straight and down to the Ford Chicanes. This means that the racing (and associated noise!) is only a stone’s throw away from the prime spots, and can be viewable from the comfort of your pitch. Some fans have set up large installations there in the past, e.g. the “Drinking for Holland” megacentre in 2006. There are well maintained tarmac roads criss-crossing Maison Blanche, providing good access to the large grassy areas that make up the rest of the site. The ground is flat and well suited for pitching tents, gazebos and anything else. This site recently been reduced in size.
Access by car: Getting around by car can sometimes be problematic as, at peak times, such as Saturday morning, when the traffic often comes to a standstill outside the narrow entrance to the site.
This site is technically inside the track so you have to show your entry ticket to get out and back in. If you walk in via the main gate you can walk all the way down the grandstands and into Maison Blanche without showing your ticket again.
Forum comments about Maison Blanche
2011: “All good on MB. 15 feet from the Loos and showers, 30 feet from the track. One cold shower (which I support as it keeps the queue down;)) and all good otherwise. I didnt see any crime but … heard of a few thefts over the radio.”
The site is located quite a distance from the grandstands and the village, which is probably the reason why it is among the cheapest campsites. A free shuttle bus operates to the main areas of the circuit, in the past this has stopped after 23.00 Saturday until 07.00 Sunday, last year however it appeared to run right through the night, this CA member was certainly on a shuttle back at 05.00 Sunday morning.
It is a great spot to watch the race with Mulsanne corner at one end of the site. If you have transport (car, motorbike) you can access the village/pits area, getting around during the race itself reportedly easy. Getting away after the race is also not difficult, just travel south to Eccomoy to hit the Peage. There are good shopping facilities, a Champion supermarket is just 50 yards away from the site.
Camping: Good ground and lots of trees for some respite from the sun or rain. Early arrivals get closest to the track. This site is not massively busy, so late arrivals will find a spot. No marked pitches as yet. There are a lot of non-campers around because the viewing area is in the campsite. Mix of tents & caravans/motorhomes.
The facilities have been described as good, there are portacabin bogs in traditional British style!. Good showers with plenty of hot water. Queues not so bad, because it’s not a huge site. Careful planning/timing will ensure no queuing. Toilets and showers are cleaned regularly. There’s also an open drain for those wanting to dispose of ‘stuff’ from caravans/campers.
Forum comments about Mulsanne:
2008: “Security - OK (it seems) before & during, once the race has finished, it’s probably more accessible than those sites inside the circuit. Gendarmes patrol on Mulsanne corner itself & on race day 1 of the 3 entrances is closed. A couple of pikies were chased off after the race – standard stuff. (Be aware of the fact that there is a large turnover of people during the race, because it’s a viewing area as well) & we had a rule that at least one of our crew had to be ‘on-pitch’ at any given time.)”
2008:” Atmosphere: Pretty quiet. For those who want a party site or access to the pits & village, I wouldn’t bother. Having previously stayed on KN, I’d say it was a lot quieter than that. That said, you don’t get all the go-peds etc, so if you want somewhere ‘less active’ – it’s good. If you aren’t bothered about being at the heart of the action, it’s OK. We ended up there last year because we had to, having previously stayed on KN – we’ll be back on Mulsanne in 2009.
2011:”Stayed at Mulsanne for the second year running, no problems apart from a bit of loud music on the thursday night from our German neighbours. Set up camp by the road in rather than in the main area by the toilets, showers etc. Mostly British, German, Dutch and Danish and all very friendly. ”
There is a large mound right up in the corner of the race track which is higher than the fence so if you are into your photography it's a good spot. There is also a Newspaper stand for the local French rag.
This site was established in 2008 after the reduction in size of Houx Annexe. Entrance is at the roundabout at the junction of Chemin Aux Boeufs and D92 Route de Tours, GPS Co-ordinates (WGS84) N 47°56.19’ , E 0°12.93’. It is the same entry point as Beausejour and Dairon. The nearest viewing area, which is the Porsche Curves section, seems to be about 15-20 minutes walk away.
For the past 3 years the camp has been well staffed and organised. Always marked pitches 35² metres (7m x 5m). Open from Monday. The toilets seem to be working from the Monday with the showers usually switching on Tuesday PM or early Wednesday AM. There are two sets of portable toilet blocks and two sets of shower blocks all in the same location, however Dairon and Beausejour can be accessed easily and not too far away. There are no standpipes on this campsite except for those at this one location.
Pitches are marked out by the ‘security’ people = local students! - by knocking in stakes and red+white boundary tape. Turn up on Monday or early Tuesday to stake out your site because they don’t mark out until Tuesday PM. They then tend to mark around you! This campsite has never filled up, but – don’t take the mick’ – leave enough space for everyone else.
The gravel roads are pretty substantial but raised in places, so be careful with those low sportscars. The grass is normally freshly mown when you arrive Tuesday AM, but by the end of the week it can turn into hay, so careful with BBQ’s and campfires. Generally the ground is flat, even and reasonably soft. I have never experienced any floods except for a small section by the main entrance (because it has dipped where everyone is driving off the gravel).
The campsite has direct links with Dairon and Beausejour (just hedges or rows of trees), therefore many of the amenities can be shared. Food facilities and Medical Centre are located by the main entrance to Beausejour (about a 3 minute walk), as are additional toilets and showers.
Track access via Porsche Curves can be accessed easily from either outside the circuit or from internally by walking across Beausejour.
All in all, Pincenardiere is a nice little campsite, quite quiet (except for our group) and still fairly civilised. It is not En-Route to anywhere else, so you don’t get too many wanderers. Any wrong-uns can be easily identified by your neighbours or the security attendants. Easy access to Bars and Shops at Arnage is also a plus point (Just about a nice walk – or short drive).
The downside is definitely the distance from the main arena, although the little trains can be caught from right outside the site and go to Karting Nord or Technoparc roundabout and from there on towards Antares. In addition, there is a train running from underneath the bridge by the Porsche Curves that runs up to the main (Nord) entrance.
Other campsites offer a wild atmosphere, unlimited space for massive groups, or non-stop partying. Tertre Rouge’s charms are more sedate and relaxed - a calm retreat beside the storm being unleashed on the track literally metres away. It’s been described as “noisy” in the previous CA reviews. It isn’t, although the proximity of the track does mean it isn’t quiet either. Campers are mainly small groups of Brits and French.
Tertre Rouge is one of the smallest campsites, with no more than 350 unreserved pitches. These are now marked out standard-sized areas, although the wooden pegs and barrier tape used for this are quickly scavenged for firewood. Most locations are fairly flat and grassed, with a few concreted areas ideal for motor homes. Unlike many other sites, there are mature pine trees throughout most of the site the site so there’s a fair amount of shade.
There are no refreshment outlets on site, but there is a bar and concession stands within staggering distance of the site entrance, and the Stella Bar is close by. Security is pretty good, with a high wire fence surrounding the whole site and friendly staff on permanent duty.
Turning right out of the main exit (or use the side exit when open) brings you to the Museum, and 10 minutes the village and tribunes. In the other direction, Tertre Rouge corner, the tram stop to get into Le Mans, and the Stella bar are less than 5 minutes away. Those feeling lazy need go no further than the spectator banking overlooking the Esses right in front of the campsite, complete with a big screen opposite.
There’s a second entrance at the Western end of the site (pedestrian only) open during peak times only.
Three toilet & shower ‘portacabins’ are kept clean usually with hot water for showers. Queues aren’t massive, even at the busiest times. Water standpipes are located near each of the toilet blocks, and have standard threaded tap fittings. In 2008 there were just 3 electric hook-up points across the entire site, you’ll need to come with plenty of extension cables and extension blocks if you want juice on tap.
Access: For first-timers, getting to Tertre Rouge campsite can be “interesting”. Follow the ACO’s coloured direction signs by all means, but the real secret is knowing that the entrance is accessed from the D338 (the old N138) at the junction with the D323 - this is literally at the very apex of Tertre Rouge corner and the start of the Mulsanne straight. The entrance is in the shadow of the D323 flyover. This is also a pedestrian entrance to the circuit, so it’s busy with race-goers during practice sessions and the race itself. Important: You need general race entrance tickets for all car occupants before you arrive at the campsite, even if you arrive early in the week: If you’re lucky, the ticket booth next to the entrance will be open. Beyond the gate, a newly tarmaced lane winds pleasantly down the side of the track. Ignore the gated entrances that you reach first at the bottom of a short hill – these are private camping enclosures for race marshals. Instead, drive up the hill and behind a grandstand that’s in front of you, and you soon come to Tertre Rouge campsite entrance on your right. Tickets will need to be shown again here, and don’t forget to collect a counter-mark-ticket when you leave the campsite.
Forum comments about Tertre Rouge:
2011: “We were on Tertre Rouge for the 8th year, pitches aren't numbered, we found a decent spot arriving at Thursday lunchtime, there was more room this year than in previous years when Wednesday evening or Thursday would see all the best spots gone, it was sold out so I'm assuming the ACO reduced the number of tickets sold.”
2011: “About 12th year on TR for us, pitches are first come first served but are marked out and enforced by the security, smallest and most expensive of all campsites and rocking horse poo is usually easier to obtain so do not expect ACO availability, campsites is more civilised than others and security very tight so much safer, mostly english,dutch and french with a few norwegians and danish, most have camped in the exact same spot for many years…”