Explore Paris in a 2CV

By | Category: Travel destinations
Brighly coloured 2CV's are now regularly seen in Paris

Brighly coloured 2CV’s are now regularly seen in Paris

Since 2003, several 2CV’s tour different parts of to give an unusual way for visitors to see the city. It provides them with a special and unforgettable experience in the worldwide famous “tin snail”!

2CV  stands for 2 Chevaux Vapeur meaning two horsepower. ToFrench people it soon got called “deuche” or “deudeuche” and other affectionate nicknames. It all began back in 1935 – eighty years ago this year –  when the manager of Citroen asked his engineers and designers to create a car for ordinary people living in the countryside.

They had precise specifications: 4 seats, a boot big enough to fit a 50 kg bag of potatoes, a two horsepower, front-wheel drive engine, a 60 km per hour maximum speed, a 3 litre petrol consumption for 100 km and last but not least, a suspension allowing the car to cross a freshly ploughed field carrying a basket full of eggs without breaking any of them!

In 1939 the new “Unidentified Rolling Object” appeared to the world called TPV, Tres Petite Voiture meaning Very Little Car. This new kind of convertible car was made of corrugated iron with an oilcloth hood, a 375 cubic cm two-cylinder motor and minimal comfort! But of course it was the worst time of all to promote this new car and, as the German armies invaded France, the 250 cars that had already been built were taken to pieces and hidden in the attic of the Citroen test centre. During the Occupation the Germans tried again and again to get the plans of this innovative car but the company directors always managed to say no.

around monuments...

around monuments…

The car was finally unveiled at the 1949 Paris Car Show and was an immediate success although people used to make fun of it and it was common joke to ask: whether you got a tin opener with the car. This minimalist car had no lock! People had to put an anti-theft bicycle device between the wheel and the front seat to avoid any kind of “borrowing”! Despite these drawbacks people craved it and, although there was a 3 to 5 years waiting list due to the post war iron shortage, they patiently waited.

Until 1990 when the last 2CV rolled off the assembly line, it was always sought after and over 5 millions copies were sold during those 42 years! Along those decades many improvements were made; the car got more and more comfortable and faster, and it even became a movie star. Roger Moore drove it in the 1981 James Bond movie “For Your Eyes Only” as did Demi Moore in “Indecent Proposal” in 1992.  Thomson and Thompson used to drive one in many of the “Tintin” comic books and the Japanese painter Kojiro Inamura drew it many times in a book where children learnt to count with colourful 2CV.

Today the legend carries on thanks to the many fan clubs around the world and to 4 Roues sous un Parapluie”, 4 Wheels under an Umbrella, a company created in 2003 that has already taken 60 000 tourists on a ride in a 2CV through Paris and France. They have 42 colourful 2CV’s and 2 Citroen DS’s carefully and passionately maintained and beloved by their well-trained drivers. They all speak at least two languages and will enable you  discover Paris in your mother tongue. Their dream would be to be as famous as the gondoliers in Venice, the black cabs in London or even the yellow taxis in New York!

and roads...

and roads…

Comfort is a main concern to them and even if the oilcloth hood is open to make you get the best view of the Paris monuments, a blanket will keep you warm in winter. Several rides are available at different prices lasting from 30 minutes to 3 hours. You can also ask for your personal one if you have specific wishes. In the month of February a special ride is dedicated for Valentine’s Day and lovers. Whilst visiting Paris you will be offered red roses, a glass of Rosé Champagne and a book titled “Où s’embrasser à Paris”, “Where to kiss in Paris”! Another ride will take you to some of the grandest parks and gardens of Paris from the Place de la Concorde to the garden of the Rodin museum and from the Eiffel Tower to the Nouvelle France garden close to the Champs Elysées. On the “Impressionists Ride” your driver will take you to places that inspired famous French painters giving you explanations and anecdotes about paintings that you will be able to see on a touchpad. There are many other rides: “Unknown Paris”, “Paris by Night” and “Romantic Paris” are just a few. They can also take you to Versailles, Chantilly or St Germain en Laye to visit their castles. If you love impressionism you can take a 2CV to Auvers sur Oise a lovely village 30 km north from Paris where Paul Cezanne and Vincent Van Gogh among others came to paint this beautiful area.

This spring, for the third consecutive year, “4 Roues sous un Parapluie” will organise a treasure hunt that will introduce you to several of the most beautiful villages of France.  There are now 157 villages belonging to this association called “Les Plus Beaux Villages de France” and they boast of their architecture, gastronomy, cultural heritage, authenticity and quality of life.

but all ready to take visitors on tours of Paris

but all ready to take visitors on tours of Paris

From May 10th to 17th 2015 the rally will take you from Paris to Vezelay, Charnoux, Salers, Ste Enimie, Les Beaux de Provence, Gordes, Tourtour and finally Cannes which will enable you to arrive just in time for the Cannes Film Festival. Fifteen to twenty 2CV’s driven by tourists will dart down French roads and all heading for the same place. It’s a wonderful way to make new friends. Every day you’ll have to solve riddles to find the hidden clue in the stopover village and on the final day your seven answers will help you solve the last puzzzle and maybe win the prize!

Re-discover this astonishing little car. Make a choice and be part of the legend!

For more information, click here

Text © Annick Dournes & Frederic de Poligny

Photos: Courtesy of 4-roues-sous-1-Parapluie

 

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