This evocative title highlights French excellence around a Road Trip discovery of places mixing French art of living and love of good products. It’s in the Sochaux region, the birthplace of the Peugeot brand, that we set off to discover hidden treasures, retracing the history of the brand at the wheel of the ancestor of the 508: The Peugeot 504.
2 days / 1 night
Nearly. 142,9 Miles
Historically, the city of Sochaux is the stronghold of the Peugeot brand and for good reason, it is the main witness of two centuries of industrial saga of the French brand. It’s therefore deliberately rooted in the historic bastion of productions from 1810 to the present day.
DAY 1Nearly. 100 Miles
VISIT TO THE PEUGEOT WORKSHOP
The journey begins at the Carrefour de l’Europe, more precisely at the workshops of the Peugeot museum. In this space there reigns an atmosphere full of history and automotive passion maintained by a team of technicians from another era, capable of restoring the technical characteristics of any old car of the brand. Up to now, with very rare exceptions, the restoration workshops (based in Sochaux and Aulnay-sous-Bois) have been serving the needs only of the Peugeot Adventure Museum, the Citroën Conservatory, the Caapy Collection. Their doors are now open to collectors who wish to benefit from advice or personalized support, but also from those who want to entrust us with the partial or total restoration of their car (from the oldest to the generation of youngtimers). In its workshops, side by side, retired volunteers from the brand’s factories, often collectors themselves, who know cars perfectly for having assembled them in their time, salaried employees chosen for their expertise, and young trained apprentices on the spot.
TERRE BLANCHE ARCHIVE CENTER
Direction the historic site located in the municipality of Herimoncourt, the choice to get there three superb 504, a white sedan from 1974, a V6 TI almond green coupe from 1983 and a V6 convertible from 1977. To complete the procession, and Peugeot 508 in GT Line finish with the automatic EAT8 gearbox: a 2.0 diesel sedan with 180 hp, and two 1.6 turbo estate cars with 180 hp and 225 hp. When taking the Hauts Doubs roads, the first thing that strikes me is the flexibility of the suspensions and the comfort on the road, especially with the sedan version. The very soft seats typical of this era also have something to do with it. We find the style of these seats in Peugeot’s latest e-Legend concept.
We arrived at the old factory where one of the most important French industrial adventure began in 1833. Until 1889, this factory had as main activity the work of steel and proposed the manufacture of tools and mills with powder and coffee. It was after this year and under the impetus of Armand Peugeot that the first Peugeot motor vehicle was born. After that, the company experienced a meteoric rise and already employed more than 1,000 people. Today, transformed into an Archives center, this 15,000 m2 building brings together a multitude of documents such as photographs, factory plans, drawings, technical sheets of all the cars produced since Type 2 from 1890, films and other advertisements are meticulously listed More than 30,000 videos, 1.5 million plans, 4.5 million photographs, 5 km of paper documents, 40,000 style drawings, and 25,000 posters are listed and classified, arranged in order meticulous and driven by the genius Hervé Charpentier born in a Peugeot, I think. Interesting to discover that the manufacturer is the only one to have the sheets of all the cars he produced, since Type 2 from… 1890. Even more crazy, this letter from Emile Levassor to Gottlieb Daimler, dated August 7, 1891 , which traces their discussions with Armand Peugeot and René Panhard on the subject of the internal combustion engine. When I tell you that everything is kept there!
This visit ends in a museum of another kind, called the Reserve, is home to more than 500 models of the brand, of all genres and from all eras, series, concepts, style studies, competition models or celebrities – More specifically, this place is really worth a detour, there are rally cars, old vans, intervention vehicles, concept cars (which I had the opportunity to shoot at the time for Intersection magazine), armored vehicles even the Peugeot 605 Limousine of President Mitterand is there, or several cars from the movie Taxi. Why, will you tell me? I asked the question and the answer is simple, they are awaiting restoration to supply the brand museums, or purely for historical reasons.
THE FORT ST-ANTOINE
The journey takes another turn aboard the Cabriolet. The latter offering a very special driving pleasure with the song of the V6 as accompaniment. At the time, we were talking about a technological feat, even today this 504 remains a superb car, even if today the engines of the New 508 are much more efficient and offer increased performance. In short, nothing better at this present moment to appreciate the magnificent roads of the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region aboard this incredible craft. Only a few kilometers from the Métabief ski resort. This stage is a discovery of Fort St-Antoine and more precisely the cellars of Marcel Petite, at the heart of the manufacture of Comté. Its construction required no less than 600 masons, 600 stonemasons and 3,000 troops. It is one of 166 forts built along the eastern border of France after the 1870 war against Prussia. This place of character is home to over 100,000 made-up millstones. Right here, technology is at the heart of the process, robots are responsible, day and night, for brushing and turning the grindstones forming an elegant ballet. At this level of physical requirement, Artificial Intelligence clearly shows that it was useful to replace human labor with machines.
RELAIS & CHÂTEAU
Roland and Véréna Schön, world-renowned decorators, have made the Château de Germigney an exceptional place. Cedar floors, stylish furniture and silky drapes give each room the look of an art gallery, 100% natural water pool, designed with respect for the environment; the smallest chair invites you to read and taste the best tastings of the Jura … before going to the table to taste a generous and subtle cuisine prepared by star chef Pierre Basso-Moro. Iconic dishes, such as Bresse poultry from the Roussel-Voisard farm cooked in terrine made with yellow wine, are worthy of the banquets of yesteryear. Lost between wild lakes, this Relais & Château’s of rare elegance, the welcome is impeccable and friendly at the same time, all in an 18th century mansion. Go for it!
DAY 2NEARLY. 100 MILES
After this sumptuous night at Chateau De Germiney, a new day begins with a sad return to reality, yes, because the road trip ends today. It was therefore difficult to complete this trip without going through the Peugeot Saveurs site in Quingey. Believe it, it’s quite a symbol to head to this factory or to start with the brand’s latest model, the station wagon 508 and its 1.6 turbocharged petrol, its 8-speed EAT8 automatic gearbox and its leather seats- alcantara. The driving is fluid and dynamic, the reports are easy to split and the acceleration is surprising in sport mode. Like it or not, Peugeot is basically a lifestyle brand because for more than two centuries, Peugeot has imagined and designed everyday objects related to the art of the table: making knives but above all mills coffee. Stamped with the prestigious “Entreprise du Patrimoine Vivant” label, Peugeot know-how is widely recognized in craftsmanship and industry of excellence.
AN EXCEPTIONAL STORY
We end this trip with a return to Sochaux, more precisely to the Peugeot Adventure Museum. Inside more than 130 years of Peugeot vehicles ranging from the first motorized vehicles to concept cars of the 2000s This collection of cars, but also cycles, tools and household goods of the brand, are organized so as to discover the four strong periods by retracing the history of the brand from the beginning of the 19th century to the end of the 20th century.