I'm writing these words from the passenger seat of our long-term Mini Coupe JCW as we cruise south through France towards Paul Ricard. It's the venue for Mini United, a three-day festival and celebration of all things Mini.

We set off from Autocar Towers yesterday afternoon, a 'convoy' of two identical Coupes, with myself and snapper Stuart Price in one car, and reporter Alex Kersten riding in the other.

Leg one was a short jaunt to Folkestone, under The Channel and on to Arras, about an hour's drive from Calais. We wanted to leave the bulk of the journey until today so we could factor a couple of stops along the way.

The first of those was at Reims, the site of the old road race circuit which hosted the French Grand Prix in the 1950s and 1960s. The pits buildings and main grandstands of the 7.8km track still remain, and are clearly a pilgrimage for many British petrolheads, as we encountered another group as we poked around the pits.