Inopian and it`s soldiers do not normally write about tourism. This is a notable exception. The place? Mulhouse in Alsace, France. The purpose? To visit the French National Motor Museum. Objective complete.
I first visited the museum in 1992. It was smaller then but still very impressive. Over the years I had failed to keep a promise to take my son (Phillip, Inopian MD) there. The years rolled by and in the end, he took me!
Mulhouse is a lovely city. We found an excellent little hotel online, the Inter-Hotel Salvator in the city centre. Gabriel`s bar around the corner looked after liquid supply, and all in English too! Lovely man! There are lots of good restaurants and very friendly locals.
Mulhouse is a city of museums of all types but the one we came for was the French National Automobile Museum properly spelled: Cite de l’Automobile. When we arrived there I was amazed. It is vast. All redesigned and rebuilt, it took our breath away. Unrecognisable! However there is much more to it than that.
Most museums are just glorified car-parks. This is different. French style and flair abounds. The presentation is fabulous and that is just the outside. I was not surprised to be told that it is now the biggest motor museum in the world. I can believe it! Plenty of space to browse around, nice cafeteria for a pit-stop, and a wonderful gift-shop.
The cars? Ah yes, that`s what we came for! Absolutely hordes of Bugattis of all types, including three Type 41 Royales. Ironic that Bugatti called the racing Bentleys “the world`s fastest lorries”, the Royales are enormous! You name it and this museum has got at least one example.
There are some fabulous displays. The huge grid of Formula One cars from 1950 onwards is very impressive. A unique display of the Bugatti Atalante, ranging from bare chassis through to completed car, demonstrating the construction methods employed. The three Royales are the stars of course. The Veyron exhibit is eye-watering. Using `Son et Lumiere` (sound and light), the Veyron rotates on a turn-table under ever-changing lighting.
At the rear of the huge installation is a small private circuit. You can wander out and watch some classic cars being exercised and, if you so choose, you can go for a ride in one of them! There is so much more of interest, too much to include here. The collection numbers 520 cars, of which 400 are on display.
The history of Ettore Bugatti and his glorious cars needs it`s own chapter. The Museum itself has an intriguing history, also requiring a chapter of it`s own. These chapters will appear in due course. I recommend that you refer to the Mulhouse Museum website to satisfy your lust for knowledge.
If you are in Europe or are planning to visit Europe this is a place you really must see. Alsace is a lovely part of France, close to Germany and Switzerland. Mulhouse is known as the City of Museums so there is something for everybody.
The Museum is open every day except 25th December. The final surprise is the entry charge. There are various generous deals for parties, senior citizens and families. The basic entry charge is 11.5 Euros! That`s right, only 11.5 Euros. Now that IS value for money.
Be sure to visit Cite de l’Automobile in Mulhouse, France, it was worth every single hour of the drive.
- Marcos Cars 1959-2002: Uncertain Future Classic - 13. April 2016
- Healey-Alvis G Type 1951-1953: Only 25 Classic Cars Made - 2. November 2015
- Ettore Bugatti 1881-1947: Pioneering Genius of Design & Engineering - 5. October 2015
- Mulhouse City of the Automobile: Or What I did On My Holiday - 2. September 2015
- Aston-Martin DB4 1958-1963: The First Aston Superleggera - 18. August 2015
- Berkeley T60 & T60/4 1959-1960: Another 3-Wheeler Sports Car - 29. June 2015
- Bristol 403 1953-1955: Bristol With Reduced Brake Efficiency - 22. June 2015
- Triumph TR4A 1965-1967: The Car With a Choice of Rear Axles - 1. June 2015
- Aston-Martin DB2/4 1953-1957: The First Hatchback - 18. May 2015
- AC Aceca 1954-1963: Car That Should Have Been The AC Cobra - 28. April 2015
I was born in Hereford UK in 1948 and brought up in Gloucester UK. I played Rugby football internationally as a schoolboy. At the age of 17, a new and wet driving license in my paw, I entered motor racing. I was supported and financed by my parents and so my journey began.
In 1965 I bought a 1293cc Mini-Cooper `S` and campaigned it for a season. Having quickly made some good friends in the racing fraternity, several interesting opportunities came my way. I joined a sports-car team and raced in the Le Mans 24 hours in 1968 and 1969 in a Lola T70. Mechanical failure defeated both efforts. During that period I owned and raced a `D type` Jaguar and an AC Cobra. In those days cars like that were available and not too expensive, now they reside in museums and private collections. I had a chain of interesting cars through my youth including Jaguars, Minis, Mustangs and Lotus-Cortinas.
As a young driver I had my share of accidents too. Often the car would only be worth scrap-metal value by the time I got it home! I worked for an Aston-Martin/Jaguar dealership for a while, which enhanced my experience and gave me the opportunity to sample some very exotic machines, Ferrari, Facel-Vega, Iso and Maserati to recall a few of them.
At the end of 1969 I moved to South Africa to work on my uncle`s farm but the S.A. government had other ideas and drafted me into the army. After five years had passed I was thanked and released from the service. While I was there I bought a beige Cadillac Eldorado, previously the property of Marilyn Monroe. While I was away on a patrol my girlfriend had it re-sprayed pink! I was unimpressed by both the joke and the bill for the work!
When I returned to UK in 1974 I left it behind. On my return I found that the once-mighty British motor industry was in decline and was headed for oblivion. Motor racing was now very expensive so I turned to commercial transport. Driving large trucks gave me freedom and a chance to see some of the world. I don`t remember ever making a career choice but for the next thirty years a truck was my home. For about ten years in that period I owned two trucks of my own.
I also owned a famous MGB-GT, known as `Lucky`. If you`d like to read `The Story of Lucky` there is an article in Inopian`s archive. I finally retired, due to ill-health, in 2008. Since I had varied knowledge and many experiences on our subject I decided to share the stories of the cars I enjoyed (and hated) with the new generation.
Enjoy Inopian… it is constructed and written for you.