The Le Mans 24 Hours is one of motorsport’s most exciting events and an annual pilgrimage for petrolheads. The main action takes place on the Circuit de la Sarthe, but there’s plenty to see in the surrounding towns and villages. We went car-spotting in nearby Arnage on the evening before the race, discovering a truly multinational mix of metal.
We start with something quintessentially French: a Citroen DS. The ‘Goddess’ (Déesse in French) was decades ahead of its time when launched in 1955 and still looks futuristic today. Its chief innovation was hydropneumatic self-levelling suspension, which offered agile handling (famously helping Charles de Gaulle flee an assassination attempt) and a pillowy-soft ride. Hydraulics also control the gearbox, clutch, brakes and power steering.
Quintessentially French, you say? How about a Citroen 2CV in retro Le Mans livery? The Deux Chevaux was never much of a racer – early cars produced 9hp and topped out at 40mph –but it helped mobilise France after World War Two. By the time production ended in 1990, more than 3.8 million had been made.