Some people dream of seeing the Sydney Opera House. Others want to swim with dolphins or variously visit geological oddities, travel in the footsteps of heroes or walk around ancient ruins.

For me, it was to visit Le Mans, and see an LMP1's tortured brake discs glow cherry red. And now I can tick it off my must-do list.

Le Mans is, by any measure, a wondrous event. The ultimate challenge in motorsport. The pinnacle of mental and physical fitness; the last word in technical reliability.

All this, I knew, but after spending a manic couple of days camping a few dozen yards from the Porsche Curves, I now have a more of an understanding of what the drivers and teams go through. Until you’ve been there, and experienced the sights and sounds, I’m not sure you can full appreciate it.

Every year, tens of thousands of Brits are among the 300,000-plus fans who make the pilgrimage to the French town. However, although there were plenty of people to seek advice from, and even more books, magazines and websites to offer help, there was also much that I didn’t expect, or simply hadn’t occurred to me. Here's what I learnt:

It takes time. Calais to Le Mans takes around five hours on a decent run, so trying to cram it all in two days is achievable, but only just. There’s so much to see, that you’ll not take it all in. More than that, you’ll miss – as we did – the open pit lane and drivers’ parade.