The third weekend in October last year saw my wife, Danielle, and I heading down to the Champagne region of France in the Daytona for the annual Journées d’Automne event. The format was pretty much the same as the previous years in that we made our way down to the event on the Friday, followed by the track day at the Circuit des Ecuyers on Saturday, and finishing up with a road book-guided drive through the country on Sunday.
As last year we were joined by Mark and Jonny Shears along with Richard and Mandy Plant. Richard and Mandy were in Richard’s newly acquired Porsche 911 2.7 Carrera RS which made an interesting contrast to the Daytona, with both cars being manufactured in the same year and race versions being arch rivals at Le Mans. Mark and Jonny had planned to make the trip in Jonny’s Alfa GTV, but a delayed restoration saw them in a Morgan Plus 8 loaned by Richard. ‘Ecurie Anglais’ was completed by Paul Thompson and his wife Mo in Paul’s Triumph TR4.
The trip didn’t get off to the best of starts as we discovered a 3 hour delay in services at the Eurotunnel due to what was described as intruder activity at Calais. It was late afternoon by the time we got onto French soil, which meant it would be after dark by the time we got to Fère en Tardenois where Journeées d’Automne is based. In order to save time we stuck to the rather boring autoroute rather than choosing a more interesting cross-country route. Fortunately it was mostly dry and we were able to make reasonable time, the Daytona lapping up the smooth road and 130kph speed limit. This year we had rented a gîte in the small village of Trelou Sur Marne, about 15 minutes’ drive from Fère. The gîte was attached to the small family-owned champagne house, Couvent Fils, and it was rather nice to have a complementary bottle of their product waiting for us in the fridge when we arrived.
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