Crumball Rally: The Italian Job – Day 1: Reims-Besancon

Start: Reims

Destination: Besancon

Kilometers (cumulative): 676

Breakdowns: 0


If you had come to the E.Leclerc car park in Reims at 8:15am yesterday, you would have seen an unusual sight. 86 growling cars congregated with only the uniform ‘Crumball Rally’ stickers as a point of reference among the otherwise eclectic bunch. Cars dressed as USSR missiles, people carriers dressed as gold bullions, a Volvo estate covered in AstroTurf and brickwork were some of the eye-catching automobiles. The participants were just as sensational looking – clowns, The Beatles, Blues Brothers, crayons and chicken onesies.

Simon at the starting point of Crumball

Simon at the starting point of Crumball


We all set off on a fresh new journey beeping our horns and, for those of us with rag-tops, waving our hands and arms outside the car. We drove south to Epernay, where we stopped for a coffee. We pulled up next to three Crumball cars and upon entering the town, immediately saw a group of crayons hanging out with The Beatles by a fountain. Instantly recognizable.

Crayons and Beatles

We cruised against the blinding blue sky with the sun beating down on our shoulders to a vineyard in the Champagne region where we stretched our legs and marveled at the silence while we got some lovely photos and good footage for the short.

Simon has devised a contraption using the tripod and the GoPro that sits high above the car and films us in the ‘chase cam’ view, which looks pretty sweet. We’ve got some great road footage and I’m still using the D60 to capture individual moments. Hopefully between the two we can come up with something watchable.

The Champagne houses were beautiful and each looked like a post card with the dusty brickwork contrasting against the bright green of the vine leaves. We pulled into the Moet & Chandon car park and resisted the temptation to ‘pop a doughie’ in the gravel.

Patrick and co (the brilliant organisers) had set tasks involving champagne labels and creating as many words as possible out of the text and as a tie-breaker we had to buy a particular bottle of wine for less than EUR 3. (We found out later on that someone managed it for an impressive EUR 1.09. We didn’t manage to pick it up, but not expecting to win the challenge anyway, there didn’t seem much point. I’ll save myself for something in Loire Valley on the way back!)

Our mission that day was to find a mount for the GoPro so we could get a view from the bonnet with us inside, but after a few stops off, we didn’t find one (although I did manage to get my doughie in a car park).

We researched lunch and stopped in a small town where a restaurant had been given 4 stars by 160 TripAdvisors. Quaint, but a little old fashioned was the consensus. We arrived in this tiny town and the proprietor was still setting up and waking in between the kitchen and dining room fag hanging out of her mouth. That weren’t allowed outside to eat clinched it and we got on our merry way. Quaint, possibly. Old fashioned, definitely. We stopped in Châlons-en-Champagne and Simon spotted this gorgeous restaurant where we ate some delicious seafood and stalked some police for while before happily setting off on our merry way.

The day was fantastic and every step of the way we bumped into fellow Crumbolians, trying to get footage of them where we can (get in touch if you’re on the rally and want us to film you driving). No matter where you are, you’re always driving in front, behind, along side or in the opposite direction of another participant, joyously beeping and waving at one another.


Wind in my hair


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