Getting your tickets
Perhaps one of the trickiest aspects about Le Mans is getting the right tickets. Not general admission tickets (see below), but tickets to camp on what's called a "lay by" (that's a basic but perfectly decent camp site to you and me). Here at Beermountain, as proud ACO Club 24 members, we used to get these tickets direct. Over the past few years so many people have joined the club that demand appears to exceed the capability to supply, and you will often not be sure until it's too late that you have an allocation. Believe us, there is no worse feeling than finding out in May that you are on a waiting list and the other options have dried up. We hear loads of good feedback from the lucky campers that get the right tickets each year, but also feedback from many people who get put on wait lists for the less good campsites and don't find out until its too late. The recently introduced online booking promises better clarity, but early experiences are very poor. The question is, how lucky do you feel?
So, if this is all new to you, your options are:
Direct ACO Booking
At least a year in advance to be safe, but still no guarantees. Some book further ahead and pay in person at the race the year before - that seems to work well.
You can follow this link to the ACO site for Club Members and Non-members
The telephone number of the ACO "Club 24" English speaking line is: 00 33 2 43 61 08 24
The telephone number of the ACO direct ticket line is : 00 33 2 43 40 24 75
They have a full time person who is there to help with 24 Heures (and other race) matters.
Office de Tourisme - Le Mans Tourisme & Congrès
Rue de L'Etoile - 72000 LE MANS
E mail is email@example.com
Nadine speaks perfect English, is always helpful and if you do visit the tourist office in town is well worth meeting in person.
They don't charge any mark-up on the ticket price just for delivery.
UK Ticket Agents
As of 2015 there are 6 UK 'Official ACO' agents. They will get access to better tickets and a higher guaranteed quantity. We can recommend three of them. Two of them have made commitment to try and meet our needs, and we feel that it makes sense to support them. If you already have a good relationship with your agent, that's a major plus. If not, give one of these agents a call and let them know you are a Beermountain member, as it helps them prioritise your order and also if you wish, allocate your tickets near where other BM members are staying (usually in the best places).
A highly popular agent with Beermountain members and supplier of tickets to Team Beermountain since 2002. Once you pay your deposit you are then safe in the knowledge that people who understand your needs are on the case. The service is personal and most customers are long term owing to really excellent service. Supporters of Beermountain forum. Highly recommended.
Le Mans orientated UK ticket agent with a good feel for every aspect of the race. Plenty of on site options to meet your needs - tickets through to hosted camping on and off site at LM. Management on location during the race and well linked to the LM community - Radio Le Mans etc. Whilst not direct Beermountain supporters, they are professional and efficient. Recommended.
This can be good as it should match supply to demand. However, please bear in mind that the tickets are sometimes not sent out to the original purchaser until 2-3 weeks before the event .
Avoid the profiteers at all costs. No one should have to pay more than a small amount over the original ticket value. If you see anything at a high price, ignore it - this is a mug's game. We hear that it is also not strictly legal to sell unless the original purchase price is made clear on an auction sale. Also bear in mind that the seller might not actually have the ticket yet. Are you prepared to wait until the week before the race to then be let down?
If you are going down this route, try to trade with someone who you know is a bona fide member of a club. Safer still use the Beermountain "Buy, Swap, Sell" forum where you can usually find reasonably priced tickets owing to our tight forum rules.
Frequently asked questions
Do I need to be a member of the ACO to buy tickets directly from them?
No, any one can buy tickets from the ACO directly. The ACO have a special "Club 24" package which if you join, gets you reduced price tickets, access to a special members visitor centre, plus race information and other benefits. Unfortunately the approach to ticket and campsite choice remains random, and this can be a lottery.
What tickets will I need to watch the race?
As a minimum you will need an "Enceinte General" (general admission) ticket for each person. This gets you into the circuit and general viewing areas. Beyond this you may need a camping pass, and you can also buy tickets to the grandstands. You will always need a general admission ticket, whatever other tickets you have purchased. They are now bar coded and scanned as you enter and leave the circuit. Do not try and copy them or think you can share them around.
How many campsite tickets will I need?
As a general rule, at least one per vehicle. Most campsites allow you to pitch as many tents as you like as long as your car/motorhome has a pass, but now many are adding a 7x5m space allocation which may be marked out when you arrive. Over the past few years many sites have become marked out spaces - these are either numbered on your ticket (Maison Blanche, Camping Houx) or allocated on arrival (Houx, Beausejour). A few are still unmarked, for example Mulsanne.
The tickets for the campsites seem to be sold out...
Yes, this happens every year for the best campsites. You need to book early! Try the ACO and a couple of travel agents. If all else fails, you could just bring a sleeping bag and sleep trackside, but we don't recommend this. You can usually camp up to 30 minutes away in a number of places, so don't despair!
Can I camp in one of the car parks?
Technically no. You will more than likely be prevented from doing this, but sleeping in the car is always an option. We have heard of officials patrolling, but this must be quite hard if you are in a motorhome. Use common sense and you should be fine.
Which grandstands are the best?
This is all down to personal preference. Generally, the closer to the start/finish line the more expensive. The grandstand over the top of the pit sounds great, but has no view of the pits itself, so isn't really as good. The best in our view is the ACO (J) grandstand, but this is for members only (including "Club 24") and is limited to 2 tickets per member.
What about pit walk tickets?
You can but these, but for their cost we don't see the advantage - the pits are open to all on Friday, so the only advantage is on the morning of race day when you have access to the pit up to 1 hour before the race starts.
Which campsite do you recommend?
There is no right or wrong answer here. See our guide to campsite form and choose the one that best suits your needs.. Have a read of our reviews in the campsite section and if you are in any doubt ask questions in our forum.
How much are the tickets?
The ticket prices are not normally set until October each year. You can reserve tickets without paying until such a time as the prices are fixed. Check the ACO web site for the direct price and use this to judge the fairness of any deals you enter into.
I've bought my tickets, how do I keep them safe and ensure they don't blow away when I'm upside down on the fun fair rides?
You can by plastic pit pass holders which go around your neck and keep everything secure at stalls all round the track. A full size one will make you look a bit like Paddington Bear, a look frowned upon by old hands. Just fold your ticket so that the bar code is showing and use a smaller sized one.
Do I really need a grandstand ticket?
No. Lots of people think it's better to move around the track and watch from a number of standing locations. However, if you want a clear view of the start/finish you will be lucky to see anything without one, as you are likely to be in a standing crowd about 20 people deep unless you arrive trackside a few hours in advance of the start.
Whatever you decide to do, best of luck, and hope it all works out!