Classic drives

To enjoy an indulgent taste of France behind the wheel, hire a classic car and explore the country in style. Eve Middleton rounds up a selection of what’s on offer

With roughly the same population as the UK, yet with nearly three times the surface area, France is the ideal spot for a leisurely spin in a classic car. Cruise the autoroutes in style, or wend your way through the vast expanses of countryside with barely a soul in sight behind the wheel of one of these vintage motors.

Classic French Escapes

If you have ever dreamed of driving your own MGB Roadster, Lotus Elise Series 1, Alfa Romeo Spider, or Mazda MX-5 Mark 1, now is your chance. Run by two British car enthusiasts, Classic French Escapes is based close to Paris and offers drivers the option of hiring the cars for the day, or combining them with a choice of itineraries in and around the Paris and Loire Valley areas. Single-day tours are available (Versailles), with others lasting two, three and five days (Loire Valley, Giverny, Le Mans and Fontainebleau). Accommodation options can be tailored to suit your budget, including chambres d’h�tes and boutique hotels. Prices start from €290 a day.

Tel: (Fr) 6 14 64 88 97

www.classicfrenchescapes.com

Vintage Roads

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With three separate bases in the �le-de-France, Brittany and Centre regions respectively, Vintage Roads specialises in hiring out Citro�n Traction Avant models dating from 1938 to 1957. Choose from its fleet of four-seat sedans, all carefully reconditioned to fit with modern safety standards, and slide in behind the wheel for a driving experience to remember. Suggested itineraries include a weekend at the Ch�teau de la Barre discovering the Touraine area and a trip to Mont-Saint-Michel exploring the Normandy coastline. Prices start from €130 for a half-day/100 kilometres, and a chauffeur option is available.

Tel: (Fr) 6 08 85 38 31

www.vintage-roads.com

Nostalgie Randonn�e

Experience the dramatic landscapes of the Dr�me d�partement in Rh�ne-Alpes with a turn in one of the classic cars from Nostalgie Randonn�e. Established by Simon Pomarel as a result of his three-decade love affair with classic cars, the company’s base in Allex houses an impressive collection including models from the 1920s through to the 1970s – try the open-roof 1954 Renault 4CV or the 1971 Peugeot 504 cabriolet for a true Gallic driving experience. Previous itineraries have included tracking sections of the Chemin de Saint-Jacques de Compostelle pilgrims’ route as well as village tours in the area. A day’s 250-kilometre circuit costs €450; further details available on request.

Tel: (Fr) 4 75 62 73 20

www.nostalgie-randonnee.com

Rent a Classic Car

Cruise down the Croisette in Cannes or zoom along the clifftop routes on the C�te d’Azur with the vehicles on offer from the French Riviera-based company Rent a Classic Car. Take the wheel of its Alpine Berlinette A110, powered by a Renault engine, and pretend you are one of the many rally winners who have driven this classic motor. Alternatively, take a more relaxing option with Citro�n’s France 3 2CV with roll-down roof in traditional blue and white Riviera colours. All GPS and maps are provided free of charge, with additional extras (chauffeur, picnic basket, etc) available on request. Prices from €179 per day.

Tel: (Fr) 9 54 00 29 33

www.rentaclassiccar.com

Logis du Paradis

Although drinking and driving are activities that must be kept separate, there is nothing stopping you from filling up the boot of your classic car during the Logis du Paradis tours in the Charente d�partement’s Cognac country. The firm has more than 35 years’ experience and its fleet covers a range of cars, including a Citro�n 2CV through to a majestic 1945 MG TC model. You can choose to stay on site in one of the Logis’s five chambre d’h�te rooms or two renovated outbuildings and enjoy a rest after a hard day’s drive by their open-air saltwater swimming pool, or opt to strike out on your own into the surrounding area. Prices from €125 per day.

Tel: (Fr) 5 45 35 39 43

www.logisduparadis.com

Cross Channel Sports Cars

For something a little different, opt for a drive in a classic British car across the Channel. Cross Channel Sports Cars has a series of two-seater Morgan Plus 4s based in the Tarn-et-Garonne d�partement in south-west France, ready and raring to go for a rip-roaring ride through the French countryside. With leather upholstery, wood-rim steering wheel and stylish chrome wire wheels, the Morgan Plus 4 is a car lover’s dream. The company offers both weekend and weekly car hire, and can also help with hotel and ch�teau bookings, tours and airport pick-ups if required. Price from €300 per day based on a weekly rental period.

Tel: (Fr) 5 63 94 58 31

www.ccsportscars.co.uk