Le Mans tickets
I seem to spend a lot of my life talking about tickets; whether it is plane tickets, ferry tickets, train tickets, football tickets or speeding tickets, as a whole, the word seems to crop up a lot. It seems most appropriate today to talk about Le Mans tickets!
Le Mans tickets are unusual in that the majority of the tickets are still purpose printed Le Mans tickets printed in an office in Le Mans & then dispatched around the world. In recent years, the ACO have also adopted the print at home tickets for members and people booking direct from the ACO website. I won’t say much about the print at home Le Mans tickets, other than to say check your toner/ink levels before you print as it is important the barcode is OK to scan.
Official Le Mans tickets are a little different. They are designed to fit in to lanyards or stick in the windscreen of cars. They are colour coded so that marshals & volunteers can direct cars in the right direction and so that barcodes can be easily scanned. However, be aware that these tickets are printed using a thermal process, so they need to be kept away from heat sources, so please don’t try to laminate your passes or leave them in the sunshine for long periods (a bit of a design floor for camping & parking passes, designed to be displayed in the windscreen).
Whichever Le Mans tickets you purchase it is important that you only get them from an authorized source. That is either the ACO direct or an official licensed Le Mans tickets agency such as at Travel Destinations. The ACO do not like Le Mans tickets bought via resale channels. It is against their terms & conditions and any Le Mans tickets found being sold like that will be voided immediately.
The most important ticket is the General Enclosure or General Entrance ticket. This allows a person to access the main parts of the Le Mans circuit. It is a pedestrian only ticket and each individual must present the ticket when going in and out of the main part of the circuit. Essentially the General Entrance ticket gives access to all the public areas around the circuit. This includes the grass banking areas from the Porsche Curves around to the Tertre Rouge corner, the concrete steps below the grandstands on the start-finish straight as well as the corners at Mulsanne & Arnage.
The General Entrance ticket gives you more than just viewing areas though. It allows you access to the fan zone & village, it enables you to access the funfair & attend the music concerts by the Dunlop Bridge each night from Wednesday. It also allows access to the museum during race week and gives you access to the “Navettes”, the circuit shuttles/trams that move people around the circuit. These Navettes are particularly important if you wish to visit Mulsanne and Arnage corners without having to move your car. The shuttle to Mulsanne (route 5) now departs and returns to the East entrance (near the tram terminal). You can also take the shuttle (route 3) from the Porsche Curves to Arnage corner. Route 4 also links the two far corners. For practice and qualifying your general entrance ticket allows you access to any of the grandstands (although not on race days!) and it also gets you access to the pit lane on Friday from 10am in the morning. So, it is a really important tool. Be careful with it though, as lost tickets cannot be replaced at the circuit. You will need to buy a new one!
In addition to your General Entrance ticket you can also choose to add a grandstand ticket. It is important to note that you still need the entrance ticket, as all the grandstands are within that restricted area. Each of the grandstands or Tribunes, has both a number and a name. For example, the Dunlop stand is also known as Tribune 5. Most of the grandstands are located along the start/finish lane, with grandstands 11 – 22 side by side opposite the pit building. Tribune 34 is above the garages in that same area. The only grandstands away from the start finish straight, are Tribunes 23 (on the Ford chicane) Tribunes 4 & 5, up by the Dunlop Bridge, and (when demand allows it) Tribunes 1 & 3 follow the Esses, beyond the Dunlop Bridge. Grandstand seats are a separate ticket to your General Entrance ticket, and will be for a specific seat in a specific stand from the Saturday morning until the end of the race on Sunday.
If you are planning on staying overnight at the circuit, then you will need a Le Mans camping ticket. It is not possible to erect a tent or park a motorhome in a designated car park. This entitles you and your vehicle to reside in one of the circuit campsites. These campsites are open from the weekend before the race, until the Monday after the race. The camping tickets vary in location and price. They also vary in size and facilities, but other than one campsite they all entitle you to 7m x 5m pitch. The campsites are colour coded in to 4 areas, and on arriving at the circuit, you should follow the coloured signs to your camping area. Essentially the colours are as follows:
Yellow: Beausejour, PZ54 (motorhomes only) Arnage and Mulsanne.
Green: Houx, Houx Annexe, Epinettes & Garage Vert
Red: Tertre Rouge & Expo
Blue: Maison Blanche, Blue-Nord & Blue Sud
If you are staying in one of the Travel Destinations private areas, then you will already know that our private campsite at Porsche Curves & our Event Tent glamping area are also in the yellow zone, whilst our Flexotel Village cabins are located in the green zone.
The camping pass will have your named campsite, a specific pitch (only if it is a numbered campsite) and there will be tent symbol in a coloured box. It is that colour that you should then follow to access the circuit. Your camping permit should also be displayed facing outward in your windscreen so that circuit staff, can see in which direction you should be heading.
Parking passes look similar to camping passes, with the exception that they have a large letter P on them and no camping symbol. They follow the same colour coding as the camping and passes should be displayed in the windscreen. In recent years the rules for car parking have changed & the ACO have introduced a number of free-parking areas around the circuit. These include the blue car park and its neighbour Heronierres, Acti-Sud and Raineries the other side of the airfield as well as well as M1 adjacent to the MM arena. These free parking areas don’t require permits and are allocated on a first come/first served basis. The other car parks require a permit and there is a charge. These include Blanc, Rotonde, Expo, Rouge & Vert. Only the parking Blanc area has numbered parking spaces. There is also now a charge for parking at Mulsanne and Arnage on race days (they are free for practice and qualifying).
There are further ticket options that you can add to make your Le Mans experience different. One of the tickets I often get asked about is the pit-walk. If you want to get in the pit lane on Wednesday before practice and then on Saturday before the race, you are going to need this ticket. At £650 or the equivalent in pounds, I would question its value. Remember that the pit lane is open for most of Friday for all with a general entrance ticket. Whilst the drivers autograph session is a lot earlier on Tuesday. So this limited access ticket is relatively expensive for what you get. However, some people still choose this ticket option.
The final addition would be to choose access to hospitality. This option is for the few not the many, but if you want a lounge with a view of the track, bar and food available 24/7, behind the scenes tour and private shuttles around the circuit then this is the ticket for you. Unless you get an invite from a friendly team or manufacturer, expect your bill to be upwards of £1000 though.
In the end it doesn’t matter what you pay and what tickets you get, just for the privilege of being at the circuit for the Le Mans 24 Hours you have to get one!
Written by Richard Webb