8 February 2010


I am happy being around old cars and motorcycles. This may be because I spent a large part of my childhood in a sidecar attached to an old BSA or Velocette. With my father riding, my mother on the pillion seat and me safely tucked away in my little metal box, we travelled hundreds, probably thousands of miles, bouncing along the roads of England and Northern Ireland.

Once my dad could afford a car, they were ancient old things that constantly needed tinkering with. Add to that his passion for steam engines of any kind - steam trains and steam rollers - noisy, smelly, oily engines have been such a big part of my life that I still enjoy them. (I did once drive a steam engine - but that's another story!)

As a little girl we used to go to Derby on the steam trains for shopping trips which was a real adventure that I loved.  Also, during the school holidays, I used to cycle to the station at Cromford with my male cousins for a spot of trainspotting and general messing about. Then I would get home all sooty and smelling of smoke from standing on the footbridge as the trains came in and out of the station. I was often in trouble for that.

So, when we discovered that there is a very active "Association Rétroméchanique" in Le Grand-Pressigny, we were very interested.  At the end of May they have an annual run out and it happened just after we arrived in the village that week in 2008.

We were sitting on the terrace enjoying an aperitif with Barrie when we heard the unmistakable rumble of old vehicles coming into the village. We dashed down to the square to see the procession as it came up the road and turned into Grande Rue.

Dusty was with us on this holiday, the only time that we took her to France.

It then did another lap and ended up at the Salle des Fêtes. Whilst the public (us) could amble around all the lovely old cars, bikes and tractors, a certain amount of jolly chatter and clinking of glasses could be heard coming from inside and, all in all, everyone had a lovely time.

We have often come across gatherings and processions of old vehicles all over France and it's nice to know the French are just as barmy about them as we are in England. Just one more reason the love the place.


  1. Did you see, and love, "the world's fastest Indian"?
    Great movie.
    Nice pics of loverly machinery.

  2. Hi Leon - I had a feeling you would like this post !

    No, I haven't seen that movie but I do know about it and now you have reminded me of it, perhaps I will seek it out.

  3. Great post! I yearn after the days of shiny walnut dashboards and real leather front seats that sat 3 abreast. Having said that no heating or radio - but oh the style was grand!

  4. Hi Jennifer - (I think I got you correctly sussed) - the prospect of owning an old vehicle of some kind if we ever get to spend more time in France is very appealing. The roads are a lot less frantic and there is of course, the better weather, too.
    I actually hanker after an old Renault 4 but I have a sneaky feeling Nick would like something a bit more slinky.

  5. Cars aren't really my thing. In fact, I hate driving. I do it, because it's the easiest and quickest way to get to work and back, and because it handy to do my bulky weekend shopping... But that's about it. My friend loves cars and these old vehicules though, and will stop and look everytime one is passing by :).

  6. Hello Jean - I thought I'd put my link here of when I blogged about our week in your lovely part of France. I bet you recognise all the photos

  7. oops -

  8. Martine - driving in the UK is not much fun these days.

    FF - You're right - I do recognise most of them ! Can't wait for our next trip.

  9. Lovely motors. I have been in love with cars since childhood. My father loved anything mechanical and I spent most of my childhood trailing round after him, so it just rubbed off like the dirt. The smell of fags combined with sump oil conjures his memory immediately. In fact, you may have just inspired my next post ...

    Mad x

  10. Mad - with my dad it was a pipe. He hasn't smoked since he was 51 (30 years ago) when the doctor told him he needed heart surgery and to give it up. He stopped immediatley. I can still remember the smell and although you rarely smell pipes being smoked these days it always takes me straight back to my teenage years.

  11. I now have this mental image of you tearing around in a sidecar. I rarely see them nowadays. Sounds like you had some unusual experiences.

  12. Lovely photos and a darned good read. Had a 2CV a few years back. Have always fancied a Citroen Light 15.