It’s sometimes suggested that, while the Germans invented the car, it was the French who invented motorsport.

You could spend a lifetime arguing for or against that proposition, but it’s true that the French were very quick to see the potential for cars to provide excitement and adventure rather than mere transport from one place to another.

The first Grand Prix was held in France in 1906, partly because of a rule which stated that only three cars entered in the previous Gordon Bennett Cup events could have been built in a single country.

The French, who were producing competition cars in far larger numbers than anyone else, thought this was unfair, and reasonably enough came up with a new race with rules which suited them better.

But it’s not all about motorsport. Some French cars have been designed specifically for that, but a great many others have been created not so much to compete as to provide high-speed driving enjoyment. You’ll find several examples of both types here.

Alpine Start slideshow