Le Mans - the opening sequence

Driving a Porsche 911S in France, 40 years ago...STARTING AROUND THE VILLAGE OF BRULON...

Credit: Marie Fotini...  

View this video before scrolling down "the opening sequence" page...



"A slate-grey Porsche 911S with a Stuttgart registration plate zips casually through the picturesque French countryside. It arrives in the city - it's a morning like any other in Le Mans. A young woman buys flowers. The car continues over the section of the circuit normally used by everyday traffic. The street is suddenly lined with two-beam guardrails. The driver stops, climbs out, the camera angle shows his back. The camera pans around and you recognise him as Michael Delaney (Steve McQueen), the top driver of the Gulf Team. With a fixed stare, he focuses on a certain spot beyond the steel rails." {Our Le Mans, page 116}

Summary of the car journey (10 locations in chronological order):
- location            1: bridge (crosses the La Vegre between Brulon and Cheville))
-     “               2: trees road (located near the canal in Fillé by people from Fillé, not visible on Street View)
-     “               3: restaurant (in Fillé)
-      “              4: church (in Fillé)
-      “              5: enters Place des Jacobins (Le Mans)
-      “              6: facing the cathedral of Le Mans
-      “              7: statue Place des Jacobins, Le Mans
-      “              8: junction Ruaudin road (en route to Maison Blanche & circuit)
-      “              9: passing Maison Blanche (MARTINI)
-      “             10: stops the car across MARTINI house

Location 1 - The 'bridge' road is located between Brulon and Cheville...  












From the angles - the clump of trees straight ahead in the distance are at the junction of the D4 (Route de Sable) and the D35, and appear to have been thinned out as per much else of the vegetation...


(New bridge dated 2013...)

Footnote A: Location 1 was finally located on the 14.10.17 by Michel from Le Mans...

Michel wrote:

"Laval - D357 - Coulans sur Gee - Longnes / Chassille - Joue en Charnie

Plus loin le carre four de "la lune" il faut tourner a gauche en direction de Brulon - D4

vous traversez la ville de Brulon

vous quittez un peu la ville de Brulon... puis sur la gauche il faut prendre direction Cheville

Vous roulez sur la D35 - et plus loin vous allez tombez sur ce fameux petit pont. La riviere qui coule en dessous

du pont s'appelle: La Vegre

C'est le tout debut du film "Le Mans"


Footnote: B On the 15th & 16th October 2017, John's informative emails unexpectively arrived...

"Dear Sir...
I was looking at your website relating to "Le Mans" and was gratified to see that the scenes in Fille had been identified ( I have been longing to know where these scenes were filmed for 47 years!!!).
However, you had not identified the very opening scene (the Bridge Road).
I believe I have found it.
It is on the D35 between Boulon and Cheville, where it crosses the "La Vigre" river.
The vegetation and other minor details have changed (what doesn't after 47 years?) but the road layout seems the same and the building cluster seems in the same place, as does the bridge which crosses the river over an island (discernible in the original movie.)
On google maps the nearest landmark is the "flour Mill Blin Bernard" which is out-of-shot in the movie but the road  to it is just visible  in the bottom right-hand frames as the Porsche crosses the bridge, etc. 
I hope this gives you something to investigate further.
Please reply if any queries.
John" (15.10.17)

 "I too am in England (SE London) and was just browsing through websites  under the "film locations".....
Your website was very useful  in my search for the first scene; you mentioned where the film crew were staying during the shoot, so I reasoned that they would not want to be too far away from their hotel for what is obviously an early-morning shoot.So I got Google maps and started looking for a road over a small river....the road having distinctive figures before and after the bridge.

An hour looking at maps and ..Voila!
John" (16.10.17)


Location 2 - Trees road...

In a blog from people living in the area of Fille, discussion about images of Le Mans filmed in Fille and they showed this road with trees as filmed near the canal...






This scene is filmed Rue du Canal, the car goes in direction of the village ...



Location 3 - Village of Fille (Restaurant & Butchery):  


Location 4 - Village of Fille (Church):  





Location 5 - enters Place des Jacobins (Le Mans)...

Location 6 - facing the cathedral of Le Mans...

Steve McQueen in Le Mans city location, Cathedral of Le Mans in the background


Credit: Marie Fotini...


Location 7: Statue on Place des Jacobins, Le Mans...

Location 8: Junction Ruaudin (4.5km) - turned on his right, direction Le Mans (8km) on the sign...  




Location 9 - Maison Blanche...  

To see the old house (MARTINI):
(this part of circuit is now abandoned)
Article on this part of Maison Blanche:




Map of the circuit for the year of the filming (68-71) to show the location of Maison Blanche...



Location 10 - stop of the car...

Final location of the journey: across the old house of Maison Blanche (MARTINI on the roof)
This house doesn’t exist anymore.









Restaurant des Hunaudières:






(To the left of the rear of the car is a banner advertising "Polaroil" OIL...)










Quick approximative translation:
Alain Loison assisted him in locating Le Mans in 1969. A unique experience since this Parisian photographer was the only one to follow the American star. He got the exclusivity after a huge combination of circumstances.
The story begins badly for Alain Loison when he is sent to Orly by his press agency to track the arrival of the American star.
After missing his photos of McQueen at Orly, Alain Loison jumps in the car of a German journalist: direction Le Mans in pursuit of the star.
Alain Loison pursues McQueen at breakneck speed.
Steve McQueen and his team stop at a roadside inn. They invite Alain Loison and the German journalist to join them for lunch.
Steve McQueen invites Alain Loison to eat and offers him an exclusive report.
When they leave the inn, it is Steve McQueen who is driving and Alain Loison co driver. They are arrested at 200 km/h  around the Ferté-Bernard (near Nogent-le-Rotrou) by incredulous gendarmes.
The gendarmes stop Steve McQueen in speeding, without recognizing him (they thought Steve McQueen was long dead...)
(Steve even gave his wrists for handcuffs!)
Then he gets away with a blame and a moral lesson.
For 10 days, Alain Loison photographed the star who made scouting on the circuit for his film "Le Mans".



The Porsche garage in Teloche is where Steve McQueen went during the filming of Le Mans to service the cars...


From 1951 to 1981, the Porsche team is housed at 21, rue du 8 Mai in Teloche, just a couple of kilometers south of Mulsanne. Almost the entire Porsche family stays amongst race enthusiasts in a nearby chateau...  


























Further Research - http://www.rjsmith.com/le-mans-then-and-now.html





Arnage station and road with racing cars at Railroad Crossing:





From here, you can see both access to the former Solar Garage:











Siegfried Rauch