DECEMBER 11, 2007

More about a race at Versailles

The future of the French Grand Prix will be considered by the French government shortly and more information has been coming to light about plans to establish the race in the commune of Versailles at the Camp de Satory. This is on a plateau to the south of Versailles, on the south side of the N12, which is one of the major roads on the south side of Paris.

Satory has been one of France's longest established military bases and the eastern part of the site remains in operation. On the south side of the site there is an area which belongs to the government-owned arms manufacturer Nexter (formerly known as GIAT Industries). This includes a vehicle testing track which is regularly used by Citroen and indeed the Citroen Sport WRC team is located in this sector. To the north of that, however, there is a 150 acre area which used to be used as a tank testing ground. The city of Versailles has been discussing what to with this for some time with calls for more housing or to create some form of business park. This land is for sale at the moment and the plan is for it to be developed into a park which could be transformed each year into a Grand Prix track, in much the same way as happens in Albert Park. The advantage is that the park would not have roads running through it and so disruption would be minimised. Access to the site will be relatively easy from the N12, which runs along the northern side of the land and will improve greatly by around 2010 when a seven mile tunnel under Versailles is completed, linking the northern A86 ring road with the N12. This is being built to relieve traffic congestion in the western suburbs and will give those in the north of Paris rapid access to the southern districts without needing to go through the centre.

At the moment this seems to be the best available solution for the event. It will be within easy reach of Paris by car and close enough to a branch of the RER rail network to allow direct access to the area from central Paris by train.

The site is close to the site of the old Prost F1 factory although there is a valley between the two sites.