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27th October 2010

Reims Motor Museum
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Just one hour from Paris, Roy Workman discovered a marvellous museum packed with all manner of unusual Continental classic bikes...

I felt it was going to be a good holiday as we rode off the ferry in Dunkerque following a large bunch of riders mainly riding classic bikes. We were again heading to Graeme's La Rosiere Holiday Chalets (he's also a RealClassic subscriber). The chalets are not far from Vouziers, in the Ardenne region of France. This is a peaceful rural area, with lots of long, straight and empty roads - a great place to ride.

We passed a group of four motorbike and sidecars on the journey, I mentioned this to Graeme, and he explained that sidecars are very popular in France. Chatting one evening over a beer or two he mentioned that there was an Automobile Museum in Reims, and he suggested that he and I could visit it. We decided to go on the Tuesday. Luckily the museum was only one hour away, as on arrival in Reims we found that the museum shuts on Tuesdays at this time of the year! During the peak summer months of July and August it is open every day; however we went in September.

The Museum...

We decided to return on the following morning, as the museum is open from 10 am to 12 noon; it then shuts for lunch and re-opens from 2 pm to 5 pm.

What a great museum! It is situated in old factory premises and there is a large yard where you can park your bike. There are vehicles dating from 1908 until the present day. There are a couple of hundred vehicles altogether, and Graeme and I counted 85 motorbikes on display. There were also a dozen bicycles and some children's pedal bikes; some were in the shape of Vespa scooters, and one was even done as a Honda Transalp; these were very nice.

The Vespas at the front are normal sized, the ones at the back are ginormous...

Looking at the motorcycles I found that there were quite a few makes that I am unfamiliar with. There was a Derney Tandem bicycle with a sidecar, dated 1951 and powered by a 100cc engine; the lighting was a dynamo running on the back wheel. The majority of the machines are in very good condition, but there were a few in an 'as found' condition.

Derney Tandem bicycle with a sidecar, dated 1951...

There was quite a collection of Terrot machines; these were made in Dijon from 1901 to the 1950s, when Peugeot bought out the firm. Terrot used their own engines as well as Blackburne and JAP engines. A 1929 Terrot 350cc was attached to a Terrot sidecar - very smart. At the time the French motorcycle makers favoured a coffee / brown and cream colour scheme. Several Peugeot motorcycles were fitted with period leg shields. Being France there were also several Solex mopeds on display. Graeme, having ridden one, was telling me that it could get exciting going downhill with all the weight over the front wheel and push bike brakes to slow you down! There were several BMWs on display. A very nice collection of motorcycles altogether.

From the left, a 1939 Zundapp and a 1949 600cc Condor...

The museum opened in 1985. The founder was a design engineer called Philippe Charbonneaux; his name comes up a lot in the four wheel section, where there was some fantastic stuff. Imagine a car with a wheel about half way along either side of the car that power the vehicle, with one wheel front and back of the car that steer it. Graeme spotted that these wheels were power assisted. Philippe had some brilliant ideas - certainly well worth a look.

An MZ tries to hide amongst the BMWs...

Also on display there are over 100 pedal cars and apparently there are 5000 miniature and toy cars on display, together with a collection of enamelled signs.

We were there for just over two hours and ran out of time because it was closing for lunch. The place is huge, and you could easily spend more time there in order to see everything. There is a shop selling souvenirs, and I purchased a couple of period postcards for one euro each.

I later spotted some manufacturers' adverts - these were four times larger than the postcards but still cost one euro each. I thought that this was a bit strange, but the lady running the entrance and the shop, who speaks good English, told us that even the tins of Coke cost one euro, the reason being that they get coach parties and motor clubs turn up and it can get very busy so it helps to get the crowds through more smoothly.

She said it really helps the English visitors as they are not used to the euro and they can spend quite some time trying to sort their cash out. Models of cars and bikes cost more, but, as she explained, people only buy these in ones or twos.

MZs on Right Now......

If you go into a Tourist Information Office you can pick up a leaflet on the museum; there is a map on the reverse to show you how to get there, and in Reims itself there are also street signs showing you the way.

A great place to visit - so many interesting things to see. When you have finished with your visit there is a nice café on the opposite side of the road.

Graeme tries to hide the Yamaha RXS100...


Check out the museum website at:

Also check out La Rosiere chalets' website at:


BMW - ancient and modern - on eBay Right Now...


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