30. Circuit historique de Laon
May 22 - 24, 2021
Circuit historique de Laon
Meeting groups of fellow severners many of whom are strangers is one of the experiences that’s most valued and doing that across countries makes the experience even more special. The Historique de Laon has become a firm favourite in the calendar for severners from the UK, Holland, France, and Belgium. This year like many events was cancelled due to CoVid 19 so I sit here and reminisce on past events and look forward to next years 30th anniversary event on the 21st May 2021.
Already we have 24 cars booked with space for many more. Scenic and Continental Tours have ticket and hotel packages and members of the International 7 network you get a discount of 50 GBP or Euro equivalent by mentioning the Lotus and Caterham International 7 Network when you book.
What's for £ 199 included?
If required Ferry Crossings
3 Nights Hotel Accommodation in Laon or camping
Buffet Breakfast each Morning (excluding camping)
Annual Classic Car Display en-route to Laon
Weekend Entry Fee to the 30th Laon Historique
Participation in Saturday Rally including light-lunch
Participation in Sunday 'Closed Street Parade'
Participation in Monday Morning Rally
Commemorative Rally Plate
A brief report...
So, a flavour of what to expect from last year’s event. We met in Bethune for the town reception organised by Scenic and Continental Tours. Sevens from around Europe rendezvoused for lunch, looked at some wonderful classic cars before heading to our hotels in Laon. The square Jacques Alleman designed in the 1920’s to be an open air theatre now served a picturesque backdrop and perfect for a display of sevens and classic cars of all types a hundred years later.
The following morning, we all gathered at Parc Foch for breakfast of croissants and coffee for the Saturday rally. Armed with a rally plate, road book and gifts of bottles of water, and an umbrella ( very apt as it turned out) we set off and in spite of the 700 plus cars.
Joining us we found the roads quiet as we meandered on single track lanes through rural villages, greeted by locals with a cheery wave, through the rolling forested hills, known locally as the ‘lungs of Laon’, to the town of Soissons where lunch was awaiting us ( provided by the organisers).
As the former capital of France during the time of the kingdom of the Franks, the town of Soissons has retained a rich heritage from the medieval era although we didn’t have time to do it justice. The library in the town proved to be a great attraction – or rather the ‘facilities’ in the library rather than the intellectual property. The librarian was clearly intrigued by the sudden interest by a group of seven owners- particularly in the toilets. The previous year the rally had led us to Chimay and the old race circuit where the organisers had arranged for the sevens to take to the circuit after lunch.
As in previous years on our return to Laon we were served with champagne and a concert of rock music as we shared stories of the day.
Sunday came almost too quickly as we gathered together and drove up the winding contours of the steep hills leading up to the historic centre of Laon. We found parking on a raised road next to the city walls we enjoyed views out across the local countryside. This hill side city, known by the Gauls as Lugdunum, is set on a large mound in the centre of the wide valley, providing the opportunity for great views and leaving it prominently visible for many miles around.
Having packed up the cars we walked, searching for a coffee boost, through the walls and into the old town, following the stoned cobbled streets to reach the large square that opens out in front of the impressive Notre Dame cathedral . We discovered later this Gothic cathedral was a precursor and inspiration to many more famous local cathedrals, such as those at Chartres and Reims. In the square in front of this Cathedral we found a spot for refreshment and a fascinating commentary on the differences between bellringing between UK and Europe from seveners . Eventually the bells called us to the briefing in the town hall for the circuit event. We entered the crowded hall, for the speeches and the safety briefing, eyeing up the glasses of champagne laid out as a reward for attendance. A number of awards were being presented and although in French we manged the gist, however all our ears pricked up when we heard the word ‘Caterham’. It transpired that we were being recognised for bringing together Caterham Clubs around Europe and was invited onto the stage to receive a Magnum of champagne on behalf of the International Seven Network.
Whilst we waited for the circuit to open we all explored the city on foot pausing for lunch, although the building of the medieval city dominates the skyline it was the forests at the base of the walls known as the lungs of Laon that attracted many of us offering a natural and softening effect to the scene.
The afternoon was fully occupied with all 700 cars honing around the city, on the circuit laid out by enthusiastic marshals urging us to ‘show us what the car can do’ –as we discovered with the streets crowded with on lookers and even a ice cream seller thrusting ice creams at you not so easily done.
The rules are just keep driving until a. you are tired, or b you run out of fuel. On one lap we followed a historic lorry of some description rather slowly – when I received a ‘whats app’ from one of the sprinters – “ I’m being over taken by mopeds “. Name removed to avoid embarrassmentJ
We all eventually parked up exhausted from the smiling and waving and found our way back to cafes for refreshments and the signal that the circuit had closed, before heading back to hotels, and wash up and sustenance.
Monday morning and the weather appeared less temperamental as some of us headed off on the Monday rally and others heading straight home. This time we drove north of Laon into a very different landscape of rolling agricultural scenery with fields edged with poppies and meadows rich in the colours of early summer. Our destination was Caudry – the site of Musee des Dentilles et Broderies. OK, Lace Museum’s may not be the top of every Seveners agenda – but Caudry for the record was second only to Calais in the Lace Industry. from the 1880’s through to the first world war when its factories were left in ruins, it was the leading French centre for lace rolls. After the war the industry was re built specialising in ‘designer lace’,
“this morning I came away from Laon, an ancient cathedral city within a city, an immense cathedral city which should have six towers but has only four, four rather Byzantine towers with ornamental apertures like 16th century spires. Laon is full of beuty , its churches , its houses , its surroundings , everything …… “ Victor Hugo August 1st 1835
And may of us will be back for next years event – 21st May – 24th May 2021