It was, as all good ideas are, born of an evening at the pub. An evening that had been preceded by a quick scoot around the back lanes in my latest automotive acquision; a Peugeot 205 GL. My friend and photographer Tom Begley had had a go, and taken to it just as strongly as I.
As we sat with a beer in front of us, I said: “Do you know, I had a crazy idea about taking it over to France, perhaps to Peugeot’s HQ in Sochaux, just outside Montbéliard, to visit the museum there – and to get one last look at the place before Brexit.”
Tom’s response was unexpected. “I’d be up for that,” he said. Little did he know that he had just committed himself to what would turn out to be around 20 hours in a small, 30-year-old French hatchback with only me, a rather crackly stereo, and a carbureted 1.1-litre four-pot for company.
So it was that we set out from South London on a dark Tuesday morning in February; our destination, firstly, the Channel Tunnel. From Calais we would arc south-east across Picardy and the Champagne, before spearing east into Burgundy toward Montbéliard, stopping along the way to immerse ourselves – briefly, as befits the Telegraph’s budgets – in France.