We tried for you : the Cité de l’Automobile

The United Kingdom has the Goodwood Museum, France has the Cité de l’Automobile. It’s history is very particular ans its collections are wonderfull. Come inboard for a virtual tour.

The origins of the Cité de l’Automobile

In the beginning there are two brothers, Hans and Fritz Schlumpf. They made their wealth in the 60s with textile industry in Mulhouse, in France, near the German border.
With this money they bought a lot of cars, with one secret aim : open a museum. The museum is almost open when the two brother go brankrupt.

The angry workers of their factories discover their collection of car sand confiscate it to make a “worker museum”. The goal is to sell these classic cars to pay the workers. Before it can happen, the French government and the regional council  have the collection classed as historic monument. It’s almost impossible to sell the whole collection, and only a few cars are sold.

A real national museum opens in 1989 with the 422 cars. In 2006 works make the Cité de l’Automobile a modern one and in 2011, an “Autodrome” is added to show dynamic cars.

Virtual tour of the Cité de l’Automobile

The museum is almost like the Schlumpf brothers wanted it : the cars are exposed on grey gravel, and the lights are reproductions of the lights of the Alexandre III bridge, in Paris.
After entering the building, one of the old textile factories, we discover some projections on the walls, then a mascot collection and the first piece of art : a Bugatti Royale.
Audioguides are offered and the real visit starts.

The first area is dedicated to the most ancient cars of the collection. They are exposed in chronological order to see directly the evolutions of the automotive history.
Each car is introduced with a small board, but your eyes can’t leave such beauties. The cars are just sublime and the worst are in their original condition. Some cars are like carts without their horses !
Concerning the brands, De-Dion Bouton, Panhard, Peugeot are plenty.

The next hall is dedicated to the Chefs d’œuvres de l’Automobile (Automotive Masterpieces), its name is not overrated, the cars are just wonderful. We could find here a range of Bugatti Royale, Type 50, Type 51, Type 57, and their competing cars : Rolls-Royce, Isotta-Fraschini, Mercedes-Benz, Avion Voisin, Hispano-Suiza… The best cars of the collection are gathered here, but when we visited it, a half of the hall was in renovation so half of the cars were exposed in a small space that did not favour their fantastic bodies.

We take our time travel again and we fall behind a free sapce: the car is gone to the workshop, integrated to the museum, to be fully restored and come back in the exposition in perfect shape.
Accross the exposition, some manufacturers disapear while new ones are introduced like Citroën or Bugatti.

We are almost in the middle of the visit. The speakers anounce that the dynamic show will start. We walk to the autodrome, passing by a corridor sheltering a Bugatti Royale Esders that we have already seen at the start and some Type 57 Atalantes.

The dynamic show is really nice, on the autodrome just near the museum. A variety of models appears, every car is driven on the little track and all the (french) automotive industry is driven in front of us.

When there is no show on the track, it is used by My Classic Automobile a french company that rents classic cars, ranging from a short test on the track to complete trips around the Vosges.

We resumed the tour with a lot of Bugattis including a very stunning van ! In the middle, Le Monde de Max & Léa (the world of Max & Léa) gathers a lot of cars and cycles for childrens.
At the end of the alley, some big Alfa Romeos and Mercedes Benzes wait for us.

We reach the last alley of the Aventure Automobile (Automotive Adventures) with the most recent cars, getting to the limits of the Schlumpf brothers collection. Some cars presented were given by car enthusiasts who prefer to see their cars in a museum rather than in a barn.
Popular cars are alongside the post war Bugatti and we get more familiar with the cars exposed.

We find a cinema showing some films. The first one is about the Croisière Jaune of Citroën, from Paris to Pekin and it is very spectacular. The next room is dedicated to rally cars and Bugatti Veyron.

The last alley is filled with race cars, divided in two spaces. The first one shows pre-war cars with a lot of Bugatti, T35, T37 and T51.

The second one is dédicated to the post war race cars. On one side, the Cité de l’Automobile even accomodates a starting grid with Grand Prix cars from the war to the modern era.
On the other side, sport cars from the barquettes designed by Gordini to the Alpine A442 or Matra MS670, two of the most grlorious franch cars racing the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The visit ends with a corridor to the glory of the Bugatti Royale engine and the mandatory souvenir shop.

To see all our photos of the museum, a gallery is visible here.

What we think about the Museum

If you are passing by, you have to visit the museum. This is simply the biggest Bugatti collection in the world, in a wondeful museum.

We can only recommand it for every classic car enthusiast !


Overall Rating :

5 étoiles

Good points :

Bad points :

– The best for pre-war cars Almost too big –
– Biggest Bugatti collection Cars are sometimes a bit close –
– The autodrome with dynamic shows
Visit time : Five hours if you take your time
Cost Museum + Show : 14,5€ (summer only)
Museum only : 11,5€
Adress 15 rue de l’Epée
68100 Mulhouse
Web site http://www.citedelautomobile.com

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