Return of the Formula 1 Grand Prix de France at the Circuit Paul Ricard, Le Castellet in 2018!
The Circuit Paul Ricard located in the Var area, between Toulon, Aix-en-Provence and Marseille will host the Grand Prix de France event at the end of the summer 2018.
More than 66,000 spectators are expected for this new edition, among which one third of foreigner visitors.
Renaud MUSELIER, President of the Provence-Alps-Côte d’Azur Tourism Board, said on December, 5: « I would like to thank the President of the Region, Christian ESTROSI, who came up successfully with this key project. In an intense and competitive global tourism context, it is a great opportunity for our destination, to host this world event, in a preserved environment between Provencal hinterland and sandy beaches of the Côte d’Azur.
Back on the history of the Circuit Paul Ricard, Le Castellet
The Marseille businessman Paul Ricard, once owner of a piece of rocky land between Marseille and Toulon, begins in 1962, the construction of an aerodrome to facilitate his own business activities. He then imagined the creation of an automobile circuit. And the project came to be completed only 10 months later. Paul Ricard entrusted the design of the circuit to famous drivers. Henri Pescarolo and Jean-Pierre Beltoise were invited to give their opinion. In three hundred days, a 5,810 km track was constructed, including the famous 1,800 metres Mistral straight line.
Entirely renovated in 1999 under the leadership of Philippe Gurdjian, many times organizer of the French Formula 1 Grand Prix, the Circuit Paul Ricard was exclusively dedicated to testing and communication for a duration of 10 years. Its configuration makes this circuit the only one to be ranked Grade 1 by the FIA (in 2006). Reopened to the public in 2009, it gradually became a reference in terms of safety. With a track length of 5,842 km, the Grand Prix de France 2018 should have 52 or 53 laps.
Paul Ricard, a man from the South
20 years after his death (1997), Paul Ricard is still extremely popular. He was politically committed in his youth, first president of the « Parti du Peuple Provençal » (the Provencal people’s party) a communist and autonomist movement. Entrepreneur, he created in 1932 the original recipe of his pastis to which he gave his name and the slogan, « Ricard, le vrai pastis de Marseille » (the real pastis of Marseille) : it is the first time that the word “pastis” appears on the label of a Aniseed drink. During the war, when pastis was banned by the military regime, he became the owner of a farm in Camargue, “Domaine de Méjanes”, and replaced all his employees, avoiding them the “STO” (Compulsory Work Service).
It is truly after a trip to the United States in 1960 that he developed the industrialization of the Pastis and became the businessman recognised as such today in the whole world. As a patron, he participated to the creation of major events in Provence such as the “Mondial la Marseillaise de Pétanque” which today is the biggest pétanque tournament in the world, hosting each summer more than 10,000 players in Marseille.
As a visionary, he created the Observatory of the Sea, which for more than 50 years now, has been conducting researches in the Mediterranean, foreshadowing solutions based on nature, and better interactions between humans and the sea. The Paul Ricard Oceanographic Foundation is now presided by his grand-daughter, Patricia Ricard. In the fifties, he bought the islands of Bendor and Embiez with the desire to open new holiday horizons to family and friends. The Embiez island alone possesses 90% of the known Mediterranean vegetal species, and is a real refuge for birds as per the Bird Protection Society. The island has been awarded with “Pavillon Bleu” label and is member of the European Natura 2000 network.
Today, tributes to Paul Ricard flourish in the towns and villages where he marked his time, with the renaming of squares, streets or public buildings.
Le Castellet today
The Circuit Paul Ricard is at the heart of the « Destination Castellet », dedicated to leisure and tourism, surrounded by the vineyards of Côtes de Provence and Bandol. Various facilities are situated close to the Circuit Paul Ricard: an international business airport, 3-to-5-star hotels, restaurants with different tastes and atmosphere to answer all demands.
For more informations
Press Department Provence-Alps-Côte d’Azur Tourism Board
T/ +33 (0)4 91 56 47 32