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Gréoux-les-Bains 7th - 14th of June

Every year the international Bugatti scene has their big get together, apart from various national rallies and meetings the International Meeting is always the highlight of the season. In annual exchange the national clubs organize a one week rally showing the beauty of their country on proper roads suited for the wide range of race and production cars for the marque from Molsheim.

After the 50th anniversary meeting in Scotland and last year’s meeting in Germany it was the French Bugatti Club to bring the cars back to their home soil. Eight years after the last French meeting in Corsica it was the southern region of the mainland to be stage for 6 exceptional days at the “Coeur de la Provence” (Heart of the Provence). Now, 5 weeks and several events later we found the time to have a closer look back on this year’s rally with galleries from every single day showing all the attending cars in action.

Today the classic car calendar features hundreds of different events ranging from social events, show events, race events and road rallies, most of them restricted to certain ages depending on the name giving historical event, the international collectors have numerous choices to spend their limited spare time with their toys. What most of them have in common is that they joined a marque club years ago the get access to the knowledge of specialists and likeminded connoisseurs of specific models they own and they are interested in. Apart from the exchange of experience some clubs are more active than others and the Bugatti Club was always a real drivers club as one can see having an own hill climb in England for example. So it is no surprise that the International Bugatti Meeting is more a drivers meeting than many other meetings and this year was certainly not an exception. Limited to about 100 hundred cars to suit the accommodations the IBM was booked well in advance and the organizers even had the thankless task to refuse some requests but on the other hand it gave them the possibility to put together an entry list according the intended itinerary. When looking over the program of the following days a total of about 1500 km within 6 days did not look that much but after seeing the cars arriving on Sunday at the Domaine the Chateau Chaval in Gréoux-les-Bains it became clear that the roads would become very adventurous as just very few of the larger touring cars of the Type 46, 49, 50 or 57 found their way to the Provence, the main share was reserved to the very agile Grand Prix car and the small Type Brescia. In the next days the entrants would not just face small and twisty country roads but some small village passages of not much more than 2 meters wide.

The parking lot of the hotel filled over the Sunday afternoon, many trailers from long distance entrants were unloaded, small groups set together chatting about the time since the last meeting, minor repairs were done with joined forces indicating the strong solidarity that should also be seen the following days as soon as a car stood road side and needed assistance. As the weather was way too hot for June (locals indicated that the lavender was three weeks early showing the continuing heat period) the main concern had been the cooling and the electrics with the expected thunderstorms in the evenings after a hot day. But as most of the drivers are long time owners with a lot of experience in their car there were little worries that they might not make it over the distance.

Day 1 ... Monday - Les Villages du Luberon
The first day led west early in the morning in perfect sunshine towards the region of the national parc of the Luberon, the mountain chain south-east of Avignon. The Luberon region is known for its wine, the agriculture and certainly the lavender making this the region one usually associate when talking about the Provence. Small villages along the small country roads had to be passed that morning and very much to the liking of the author the first stop of the day was at Cucuron, a small village at the bottom of the Grand Luberon where he spent many years of his childhood family vacations. Not much has changed since these times and the Bar de l´Etang at the fire service lake in the heart of the village invited to have a cup of coffee in the shadow of the surrounding trees. After the short break the route continued to Lourmarin that is just as the turning point in Gordes named “Plus beau villages de France” as one of the prettiest villages in France. After passing the nearby castle the Bugatti took a small loop through the pedestrian area of the village to experience the local mentality after coming to an unexpected stop behind a deliverer who did not get himself worked up despite the cue waiting for him. Some drivers used the waiting for another coffee or replied to the many question of the curious locals and vacationers. Finally the journey led to Gordes, a touristy mountain village overlooking the entire Luberon region. The cars were prominently parked at the town centre and the lunch was taken at one of the small restaurants. As the organizers were keen on keeping the group together they had to restrain those usually well running in front of the field and the time could be used for exploring the village. Finally the cars were back on the road just to face the first rain shower of the week in the afternoon on the way back to Gréoux-les-Bains were the cars were lined-up at the town hall and the parking near the restaurant. With seven evenings to spend the dinner was not always served at the hotel but most of the time outside having the advantage of being varying but the cars had to be driven at night back to the hotel, on Monday unfortunately in the wet.

Report & images … Peter Singhof

Chassis numbers compiled with the help of the Bugatti Register