After spamming you with reminders for months, it finally started April 15th; the week-long Oppomeet in France. 16 people, 15 cars and countless liters of
alcohol fuel. Here’s a report.
I left Southern Germany (Munich, where I live) on Friday the 12th, to drive to my parents in my native the Netherlands. To finally get my convertible out of winter storage. A convertible with no interior, as the restored interior was still at the 205 interior specialist in Belgium.
Leaving early at 7:30 am there was still some ice on the windows of the coupe I was going to swap for my convertible later that day. Was this a sign for the upcoming week?
After getting the convertible out of storage I drove to Belgium, installed the restored interior and met up with a few others in Belgium and later in Luxembourg. We formed a convoy towards France.
We rented two large Airbnb houses, one in each of the 2 hubs, Sunday to Wednesday in the first and Wednesday to Friday in the second hub. Why not over the weekend? Because 14 out of 15 cars didn’t come from France, and the one that did came from the south. So the weekends were used for travel. Most people had to drive a day (or more) to even get to France.
Kilometers driven so far (by me): 1600. In legacy units that’s 1000 miles.
The advantage of these larger houses is that they come with a common room (with kitchen). So the first thing we did when we arrived on Sunday in France was ordering typical French food: Pizza.
Monday started with frozen cars, again.
After breakfast and after letting the sun defrost our cars we started driving. I was instantly pleased with choosing to install heating elements in my seats while they were being restored. We starting with 2 hours of curvy roads towards the very impressive Cité de l’Automobile museum in Mulhouse.
Shortly after we left we received a message from 4muddyfeet. His brand new rental BMW 540i Touring had went into limp mode and he had to swap it with a new rental. In Germany, as he rented the car in Germany. Not even that much later we received this picture.
He was stopped by French customs agents close to the border. Apparently he looked like a drug runner. As they couldn’t find his stash, he was free to continue his journey and trade his BMW 540i touring for an Audi A6 Avant. TDI. Especially this latter part made him incredibly... happy.
In the mean time we were at the Cité de l’Automobile. This museum was rather impressive and most certainly something you have to visit when you’re in the region. It’s a Bugatti museum, of which they have a whole hall full of. Additionally to the Bugattis they have many more interesting vintage cars from other brands as well. Starting from 19th century cars to cars from the 1980s.
After the museum we had 4.5 hours of curvy roads ahead of us. Roads that mostly looked like this. The roads were in the middle of nowhere and were mostly deserted, so we could drive as fast as we wanted.
But First: Lunch. We went to a supermarket to get some supplies and food foor lunch. But what would we use as a table? The answer is always the same:
Being part of the organization of both rallies I started the day with doing a trial run of the regularity rally. So we could check the route and set a reference time (which we would keep silent) and an average speed. To increase the difficulty we required both a driver and a navigator, and handed out a map based on the image on the left. The entire route would take about 30-45 minutes and we would time the start and finish time.
However, things were not to be.
‘No access due to snow’. But how bad could it be? We had the top off the convertibles and hadn’t seen a spec of snow. Was this a case of a fence that was forgotten a month earlier? And that sign, isn’t that a one way road sign? We decided to continue on.
Snow! A patch of about 20 meters of snow. Not overly deep, but not flat either. The snow had become hard and the 4x4 Fiat Pandas from the forestry service had created deep tracks. This would scrape the belly of many of our cars.
As we couldn’t create a backup route in time or circumvent the snowy patch, we decided the cancel the regularity rally that night and focus on participating in the main rally. Everyone else had already started that rally already.
The rally consisted of 18 locations (way too many to actually visit) and a number of side missions. The locations were picked in such a way that the participants were ‘forced’ to included some culture into the trip and to actually exit their cars. It consisted of picturesque locations, a hike up a few hills to the ruins of multiple castles, historic city centers and a local distillery (plus shop!). Here are the sheets everyone received:
Judging by the feedback we became the rally was a huge success, and will be featured in a next trip as well. Any tips to further improve this are welcome, and are not as easily forgotten when written down ;)
On Wednesday we left our first hub Airbnb and did a photoshoot with all the cars.
From left to right:
- Suzuki Cappucino (RHD)
- Mazda MX5 2.0 ND1
- Mazda MX5 2.0 ND2 (press car)
- Honda Integra Type R
- Subaru BRZ
- Nissan GTR (R35)
- BMW 525i Touring (E61)
- Mercedes 500 SEL (W140) (1992) (RHD)
- Mercedes 500 SE (W126) (1981)
A4A6 Avant diesel (rental)
- Audi A3
- BMW Z4 3.0
- Peugeot 205 CTi
1.62.0 turbo (1987)
- Renault Twingo mk2 (LHD)
- Renault Twingo mk2 (RHD)
Note that there are plates of 7 different countries in there. Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and the UK. Soon it will be 8, as the Mercedes 500 SE was bought in the Netherlands shortly before the meet but has since been exported (and driven to) Finland.
After saying goodbye to DutchieDC2R and his Integra (he had just started a new job and couldn’t take too many days off) we drove south, towards the Peugeot museum (Musée de l’Aventure Peugeot in Sochaux) and (later) the second hub.
After the museum we had a 3.5 hour drive ahead of us. Nice curvy deserted roads for hours, which me might or might not have driven a bit faster than your average tourist. I think I can speak for all of us when I say we had a blast. Along the way mister 505 - morphine not found (who is a car journalist) spotted a nice location for a photo shoot.
My 1987 Peugeot 205 CTi, which has been restored, restomodded (cruise control, heated seats, remote locks, immobilizer) and engine swapped (2.0 turbo from a 1996 Lancia Zeta) was clearly rather dirty and the Nurburgring brake dust was still on the front wheels.
For dinner we looked for a restaurant in a tow named Saint-Claude. Which was a deserted dump. Most restaurants were closed. The city center was under construction, and only populated by small groups of young men with gave a less than pleasant atmosphere.
We finally went into a restaurant, Le P’tit Machon, which I name because it has left a lasting impression. No only because of the impressive mustache of the owner. The female owner. None of the dishes we ordered seemed to have succeeded. The most impressive was the dish I ordered though. She misunderstood what I ordered, and when I received my dish I received an escargot (snail). Which doesn’t even sound to what I did order. After politely noting the miscommunication she turned around towards the kitchen, with a rather loud Putain! Which is a french curse that isn’t exactly polite or professional.
Thursday morning took us on a 1.5 hour drive to the Grottes du Cerdon caves.
After the caves there were was a 4.5 hour drive, although many cut this a bit shorter.
For diner ‘we’ actually cooked.!
Following diner, it was time to hand out awards. Mister 4Muddyfeet created stickers for these winners, which they displayed proudly on their vehicles. BvdV - The Dutch Engineer managed to speak French in such a convincing way, a French clerk gave him a tour guide in his native Dutch language, despite never mentioning he needed a Dutch one. This deserved an award. Schaefft got an award for his ability to answer impossible questions. 4Muddyfeet was voted the most, what was it, impressive? And there was DutchieDC2R, who will get an award for his rally score.
Awards? What kind of awards? Well, there is a cup made out of a piston of a Skoda pickup. Sadly I do not have a photo of that price. What I do have, is a photo of the sticker all other winners received.
We left on Friday. Some quite early, others a bit later. About half the group went to Besancon, for lunch, after which we went our own way.
Total kms I’ve driven that week: About 3000-3500 (~2200 miles)
So, what does a week like this cost?
- Lodging (total, for 5 nights): €110
- Fuel (3000-3500 km): €450. About half for the trip itself, the other half for driving to/from home.
- Food: €100
- Culture: €75
Total: €735 (roughly), all in, excluding souvenirs.
Join us next time!
Image credits: multiple participants, unless stated otherwise.