On Safari

On the tour of Paris, I turned my back on some of its more obvious attractions and took note of what is on its roads.  The Eiffel Tower is all very well, but why pass up the opportunity to do a little car spotting?

While there is still a preponderance of French cars, German and Japanese ones are muscling in on the market of what was traditionally a very patriotic car buying country.  Like many cities in continental Europe, the little car is still prevalent and given the lack of parking space in Paris, it is easy to see why.  Fiat’s 500 is certainly rising as an important statement – that of small but chic motoring.  I was also delighted to hear the traditional phut phut of a Citroën 2CV, the mainstay of French motoring over multiple decades.  Somehow it still seemed at home in the back streets of Montmartre.  Alas, it wasn’t a privately-owned vehicle but one of many offering tours of the city; it was good to see, nonetheless.

Other staples of French motoring, the Peugeot 205 and Renault 5 also seem to have virtually disappeared from French roads, supplanted by their logical successors, the 206, 207 and Clios. Like the 2CV, the R5 and 205 seemed to be evergreen for so long it’s quite a surprise they have vanished even from the tattiest of side roads. 

I did spot a little piece of Paris from a good few decades ago lurking quietly in a cobbled street – the Citroën DS Safari. Even today, this striking shape is still exciting, majestic almost.  I saw other exotic, new motors out and about – certainly in the smarter parts of town – and some rare older cars too such as an Autobianchi Bianchina and an Amphicar but the big Citroën had it for me.

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