They’re the iconic car of France, quirky and with bundles of character – the 2CV, which stands for 2 deux chevaux (2 horse power), never seems to lose its popularity.
Over the years it has picked up a few nicknames including the “umbrella on wheels”, the “ugly duckling” and “tin snail”.
2CVs are no longer made by Citroen who retired the line after 42 years of production in 1990. Nevertheless they’ve remained a firm favourite with many and in Paris there are several companies offering a tour of the city’s landmarks via this legendary car.
Paris loves its 2CVs
I had my first 2CV ride recently when, after a delicious lunch at the lovely art deco Les Jalles restaurant near the Paris Opera House, my 2CV and driver arrived to take me for a ride round the capital.
The 2CV can take five people if they’re not too big and don’t mind being a bit squashed in the back, but four is more comfortable.
If you take a ride in one of these old cars – be prepared for some attention. Everywhere we went, people turned to stare. They’re noisy cars for a start – you can hear them coming a mile off. And they’re quite slow. There’s no nipping round corners or weaving deftly in and out of traffic in these old jalopies. They would be the worst get away car ever.
2CVs bring out the happy in their passengers!
But – they make everyone smile and they are a magnet for tourists with cameras. There must be dozens of photos of me sitting in the passenger seat next to my lovely driver with a big smile on my face, because not only do they make onlookers grin, they bring out the happy in their passengers too!
We went past the very posh Ritz Paris hotel, once home to Coco Chanel. The uber smart, white coated doormen were determined not to look our way even though we were chug chugging loudly near them. We passed the Louvre at a refined pace, lolloped aongside the ever fabulous Musee d’Orsay and saw several major landmarks with the lid off the car and in true 2CV style.
By the end I was waving back to the tourists who turned to laugh and wave at us, not quite like Meghan Markle on her wedding day but I did feel like a bit of a celeb!
I toured with en.parisauthentic.com/paris-day-tours and my lovely driver was very happy to answer all my crazy questions like “have you ever driven over the cobble stones of Paris with a basket of eggs on the back seat?”. It’s one of those myths that have endured with the 2CVs. They were designed to be able to carry farmer produce, including eggs (without damage).
“Every day” he said, with a smile. I think he was just taking me for a ride, but you never know…
Discover more great things to do in Paris: www.parisinfo.com