Fun in the Sun

A look back at the fabulous 2016 GP Rétro du Puy Notre-Dame, held last summer.

Words and photographs: Mike Davis

Even though it’s a demonstration event, some years Puy Notre-Dame can seem intensely serious and fiercely competitive. In other years, it’s the fun that shines through.

‘The Leather Boys’ awaiting the delayed start of the afternoon large-capacity class.

In 2016 the sun shone, vintage motorcycles were multitudinous, annual reunions were held and everyone had so much fun that some thought that they should feel guilty about it!


Puy Notre-Dame is becoming something of an all-round historic motorcycle experience. On the circuit, approaching 100 motorcycle and sidecar combinations competed. The oldest was Grégory Lochet’s 1917 Indian Powerplus. Most dated from the 1920s and 30s.

Off the track, period enthusiasts were drawn to the single marque exhibitions – of Alcyon and Koehler-Escoffier motorcycles – in the courtyard of a former château. And if that wasn’t sufficient, new for this year was a vintage motorcycle brocante, the French equivalent of a flea market, in the old château park. Parfait!

Having dipped their toes in the water at Chinon, the Bourhis family exhibited even more vintage motorcycles – this time 12 prewar Alcyons – at Puy Notre-Dame. When questioned, Desiré Bourhis explained: “our collection is more extensive still but it’s packed into a garage at home in St Nazaire. So, these events provide an opportunity to show other enthusiasts what Annick and I – and others – have collected and restored down the years”.


And the Alcyon addiction evidently runs in the family with their son, Clément, contributing to the exhibition. But by way of balance, Desiré’s brother, Olivier, was riding a 1931 Terrot HL350.

Read more in the March issue of TCM – out now!


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