Seeking out the Style, Craftsmanship, Tastes & Experience of a Good Life

Seeking out the Style, Craftsmanship, Tastes & Experience of a Good Life

Hotel De France Le Mans

Hotel de France: A motor racing landmark

Hotel de France is a must-visit destination for all Le Mans 24 Hour fans.

Hotel de France is just a short drive south from Le Mans past the Circuit De Sarthe. Quietly tucked away in a small, picturesque French town hides a hidden gem of motor racing history. For more than 60 years, racing cars have roared through the sleepy roads to the hotel, and legendary drivers have made it their home for the Le Mans 24 hours. 

By Sam Clark

The Hotel de France Le Mans
The Hotel de France, Le Mans, part of motor racing history.

A unique motor racing history

Motor racing royalty, including Derek Bell MBE, Jacky Ickx, Jochen Rindt, Bruce McLaren, Sir Stirling Moss OBE, Jackie Stewart and Mario Andretti have all stayed at the Hotel de France. Many are still regular visitors, and the guest rooms are named after them. 

Many race engineers have used the hotel’s garage and courtyard as a workshop. Aston Martin’s, Porsche, Ford’s, Ferrari’s, Triumph’s and TVR’s have all been given final adjustments before driving off along the public roads to the Le Mans 24 hours.

The hotel’s long connection with motor racing was at its height in the ‘50s and ‘60s. John Wyer, the victorious British racing team manager and owner, wanted to keep his drivers focused on driving and away from the destructions of the track. So he made the hotel his team’s base from 1953 to 1975. Over the years, Aston Martin’s and then the iconic blue and orange Golf team became a familiar sight, and sound, in front of the hotel.

Famous motor racing Restaurant and Bar
The bar and restaurant where so many famous drivers have celebrated victories or, perhaps, tried to forget missed opportunities.

Dinning with heros

Celebrities, socialites and politicians like Bobby Kennedy have flocked here during the Le Mans races to mix with the drivers. Dinning in the hotel, you could be sitting on a chair once graced by Steve McQueen or drinking from a glass Jackie Onassis used to sip a martini.

The walls are adorned with photographs and memorabilia of drivers and cars. Among them is a joyous photograph of Le Mans winner, Derek Bell in a conga through the bar. 

The menu is full of delicious French classics lovingly made with local produce. There are several menus to choose from covering light snacks to full meals. Giving plenty of reason to visit, even for those who are not motorsport fans. The prices are refreshingly reasonable for such a special place with a great wealth of history. Entrée’s range from around €7 to 20 and A La Carte €20 to 30. There is, of course, also a well-stocked cellar filled with fine local wines. 

eating at hotel de france
The croque monsieur gets a thumbs-up in case your not a big fan of escargot.
Derek Bell Celebrates in the Hotel de France
Derek Bell celebrates around the bar in the Hotel de France.

Exploring Le Loir

Hotel de France in the centre of La Chartre-sur-le-Loir, a charming town nestled in the beautiful Vallée du Loir region of western France. If your pace is a little slower than the drivers racing off to the 24 Hours, the hotel provides a perfect base to visit the nearby cities, Le Mans and Tours, and to explore Loire Valley region. The rolling hillsides are laced with traditional villages, vineyards, grand chateaux and manicured gardens. 

Discover the highlights of our visit here

Aston Martin drivers Methias Lauda Richie Stanaway and Darren Turner enjoy an early morning coffee
Aston Martin drivers Methias Lauda, Richie Stanaway and Darren Turner enjoy an early morning coffee after spending the night at the Hotel de France before the Le Mans, 2015.
Porsche 962 Kenwood Sound 1988
The Porsche 962CK6 Group C Kenwood Kremer arrives at the hotel after finishing in 9th place of the 1988 24 Hours of Le Mans, driven by Kunimitsu Takahashi, Hideki Okada and Bruno Giacomelli.
The Aston Martin works team leave the Hotel de France en route to the 24 Hours
The Aston Martin works team leave the Hotel de France en route to the 24 Hours.
Gulf-Mirage racing team after Le Mans 24hours 1975
The Gulf-Mirage team relax at the hotel after racing the 24 Hours, 1975
Cooper-Maserati 1967 Pedra Rodriguez Grand Prix De France Bugati Circuit Le Mans
The Cooper-Maserati driven by Pedra Rodriguez at the Grand Prix De France in 1967,
which was held at the Bugati Circuit, Le Mans.
Posing outside the Hotel de France
Creating a little bit of our own motoring history outside the hotel.

More motor racing gold

The hotel has generously put together a collection of wonderful images for race fans. They have compiled 116 pages illustrating the historical connection with motor racing and the drivers. You can find it here

Gulf Porsch 917L 1971 and Aston Martin DBR1 Works Team Cars 1957
Gulf Porsch 917L 1971 and Aston Martin DBR1 Works Team Cars 1957, from the Hotel de France’s archives. Find more on the link above.

Read about our racing adventures and the best place to visit in Le Mans here

Le Mans 24hour Porsche 217 Rothmans

For more information about the Hotel de France, booking and reservations visit here


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