The Le Mans 24 Hours is seen as the pinnacle of sports car racing and it is on the bucket list of spectators and drivers from all fields of motorsport. Every June more than 250,000 race fans make the pilgrimage to Le Mans. So what makes Le Mans so popular? What Le Mans tickets do you need? and how can you get the most from your own personal Le Mans Experience?
The Le Mans 24 Hours is a unique event. The Le Mans circuit is like no other motorsport venue in the world. It really has to be experienced in person to fully appreciate the history, the challenge, the emotion and the atmosphere of the event. This is the reason that National Geographic rated the Le Mans 24 Hours the number one sporting event in the world; higher than the Olympics, the super bowl or the football world cup.
The history of the Le Mans 24 Hours is well known. A 24 hours endurance race has taken place at Le Mans annually since 1923; only interrupted by a general strike in 1936 and the Second World War. Nearly every car manufacturer that you can think of has competed at Le Mans over the years, but relatively few have been successful. It is not easy to win at Le Mans.
For spectators, such a big event does provide a number of challenges. When to book, where to stay, what tickets are required, how long to stay, where to watch & what to do. That is where Travel Destinations as a specialist travel company can assist. Travel Destinations has been looking after people at Le Mans for more than 20 years now, so in that time we have done everything, seen everything and can help from a position of knowledge and experience. Often there is no right or wrong answer, just a different solution to the same problem, but at least Travel Destinations staff can talk customers through the pros and cons of all the available options.
The one thing that all the Travel Destinations staff agree on is that booking early for Le Mans is highly recommended. As with any large-scale event, availability is key; so the earlier you book your Le Mans tickets, the more choice that you will have. In reality it is possible to turn up on the day and purchase an entrance ticket to the circuit, but that is all that will be available. Campsites, grandstands, glamping and hospitality will always sell out. Gone are the days of turning up in your car and just pitching a tent in the nearest field.
Travel Destinations looks after a few thousand customers at the Le Mans 24 Hours each year, many of whom are repeat customers. Often these people will re-book immediately on their return or even before if they phone on their way home from the race, which some people do. However, this isn’t always necessary unless you are particularly forgetful. We would usually recommend that people reserve the travel, tickets and accommodation before Christmas for the following year. This will usually guarantee you everything that you want. Once the New Year comes around, certain things will start to sell out. Particularly popular grandstands and track-side campsites may start to fill up. There will always be something available right up until April and May; we do even make some very late bookings in the first week of June, but by then there is no choice, it is just what is left available at that time.
So, ultimately what we are saying is that the time to book is as soon as possible. Once you have decided that you want to go to Le Mans then you need to act. These days the first thing most people do is surf the internet. You will find endless social media, forums and message boards all offering their opinions on where is the best place and what the best tickets to have are. However, there are really only two things that you should look for when purchasing tickets etc. for Le Mans: The first thing to look for is an official Le Mans tickets agent logo. This logo means that the company is officially licensed to sell tickets directly from the ACO (the Automobile Club De L’Ouest, are the race organizers). Anyone without that logo is effectively a re-seller and is probably acting without authorization from the circuit. That is called ticket touting and is effectively breaks the terms and condition of buying a Le Mans ticket. Not only that, but you run the risk of not receiving the correct tickets or any at all. So message one is to always look for that Le Mans official agency logo. The second thing to look for, & this applies for any holiday that you may choose to book, is that the company should be bonded to offer financial protection. The most well-known if these in the UK is ABTA and ATOL. These logos show that the company you are booking through have been authorized to sell travel packages and that they have all the insurances in place to do so. Sadly there are many companies that will claim to ensure your money is safe if you book with them, but ultimately you should ask more questions before you book. We recommend looking for the logos. If they aren’t there or you are not sure, don’t book.
The internet is great for many things, but for Le Mans tickets it can cause issues if you aren’t familiar with Le Mans, are visiting for the first time, or the website is in a foreign language. Sometimes it is best to speak to someone with experience and ask some questions. Travel Destinations actively encourages all our customers to call us, even if they have been to Le Mans many times before. Things are always changing at Le Mans, so you can’t just presume things will be the same as previous years. In recent years some campsites have been built on and closed or reduced in size. New campsites have opened and others have changed the facilities on offer. All Travel Destinations staff have been to Le Mans, so can speak from experience. They are also kept up to date with current events at the circuit so that they can pass on that information directly to our customers. Ticking a box on a website just can’t do that.
Top tips for booking for Le Mans tickets:
• Only purchase from an official agent (or the circuit directly).
• Check for financial bonding if booking as part of a travel package (look for the logos!)
• Pick up the telephone and speak to the company. If they can’t answer the phone or don’t know the answers to your questions, try someone else who can.
Travel Destinations is the largest UK Tour Operator to Le Mans. Travel Destinations are an officially appointed Le Mans tickets agency for the Le Mans 24 Hours as well as the Le Mans Classic and they are a fully ABTA and ATOL bonded tour operator.
Visit www.lemansrace.com for more details or call the Travel Destinations team on +44 (0)1707 329988.
Written by Richard Webb