18 December

Downhill Racer image

France’s Most Famous Woman

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Downhill Racer

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Model, dancer and racing-car driver, Hellé Nice became France’s most famous woman today in 1929, when she broke the world land-speed record for women by achieving 197.708 kmh (122.8 mph) at Montlhéry in her lapis-blue Bugatti.


A classic beauty who escaped from her small village to find fame, Hellé Nice not only was an outstanding athlete - a trapeze artist and a skier - but raced F1 with the best, including the guys, and cut a swathe through some of her country's most eligible men. This bright and vibrant woman would die in poverty, forgotten, after a freak accident in 1936 ended her career. But we remember her today with an aptly named rum and amaretto confection, the Downhill Racer. Do join us.

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