This post may contain affiliate links for products you may find useful. We earn a small commission on sales at no additional cost to our readers.
Cite de L’automobile
A visit to France’s premier car museum is an auto fanatic’s paradise.
Located in Mulhouse, in the Alsace region of France, The “Cite de L’Automobile” and Schlumpf collection, has been described as the world’s largest car collection. We spent a morning exploring the collection with our nephews during our family road trip, as they attempted to photograph every vehicle in the building.
Browse through hundreds of vehicles from 1878 to date. Learn the history of automotive development. You can even have the opportunity to take a few laps around the race track. The display also includes collections of mascots and toy cars.
We found a French Phrase Book available on Amazon useful when visiting France
Originally part of the “Schlumpf collection”, the exhibition has been extended since the early 1980’s and the exhibitions continually updated to provide a unique interactive experience for auto enthusiasts
During the early 1960’s local Mulhouse businessman Fritz Schlumpf acquired over 200 vintage vehicles, which he kept stored in a warehouse as a secret private collection.
During the late 60’s he began work on a museum to showcase the collection in the current location. During the 70’s the site was taken over by the union movement and a protracted court battle ensued to preserve the collection
In 1981 local government bodies, automobile associations and community organisations came together to purchase the Mulhouse building, keeping the historic Schlumpf collection in Alsace.
Main display hall
Vintage vehicles line the walkways in a 17,000 square metre hall lit with 800 lamposts replicating those on Alexander Bridge in Paris.
The display features 243 cars from 1878 to the present to tell the story of automotive engineering. Vintage Harley Davidsons, an iconic East German Trabi, and prestige Ferraris and Peugeots are part of the extensive display.
The iconic East German Trabant “Trabi” cost a year’s wages and could take up to 11 years to be delivered. Fabricated from Duroplast, it would last for 28 years.
Only five of the Scott 1923 Tricar have survived. The vehicles were originally designed to transport canons, with a limited number of private vehicles made.
Motor car masterpieces
Raised platforms and diffused lighting highlight 80 prestige vehicles from the 1930s era. Centrepiece of the display is a 1933 Bugatti.
Motor racing area
The Motor racing area replicates racing cars on the grid, complete with audio visual effects. Here you can view historic racing vehicles dating from 1908 to date.
Reproductions illustrate the development of motor engineering from the 1880’s to the 20th century.
It also demonstrates the restoration process of vehicles in the collection, from upholstery restoration to full engine overhauls designed to make vehicles driveable once more.
The museum’s exhibition track can seat up to 4500 people. Here vehicles are driven around the track as drivers relate their history.Motor clubs can host shows and parades on the track. During the summer months you can book a few laps around the track in a vehicle of your choice. Either drive yourself, or have a professional race driver give you a commentary on the history of your vehicle.
You can choose from a guided tour, an audio headset to guide you through the collection or download the app onto your iphone or ipad. English signage is limited, so an English audio would be a good idea.
Check the museum’s website for opening times and details of special events.