Saturday, February 06, 2010

The Most Famous Of French Cars

I'm not sure it's true, but in my experience most everybody recognizes the Citroën 2CV, which stands for deux-cheveaux (two horses), as a classic French car. Produced between 1948 and 1990, the "deuche," as it is lovingly called, is collected, restored, shown, and driven in rallies all over France. And many people still own theirs and drive it daily.

A two-toned 2CV on the streets of Chinon.

This one was parked on a street in Chinon, in the old city just below the château. The image just screams France to me.


  1. We have walked along that street so many times I almost know every cobblestone in person. These Chinon photos are such sweet torture !

  2. Lovely picture ... as always, but ... and at the risk of upsetting the whole blog community: I think I must be the only person in the world who utterly dislikes the 2CV. Even at 18, when I desperately wanted a car, I would have refused it if I had won one in a tombola or any other contest.

  3. Martine - I'm with you on that. They look quirky and terribly French but give me a Renault 4 any day.

  4. Tombola contest, Hmmmmmm - that's whole new subject for a blog!!!!
    I love 2CVs, I wouldn't have one, by I find them adorable.
    There's also a cute Renault 4CV parked on the riverside road in Chinon advertaising a wine cellar I think. Has anyone seen it?

  5. Martine, I cannot let this passed unpunished! LOL The 2CV was, and still is such a wonder. It was relatively cheap to buy, very economical to run and easy to operate. Every mechanic in the "Hexagone", and beyond, knew how to fix it if need be. You could drive miles on end and get out of the car feeling as fresh as you were getting in. OK, you couldn't go very fast, but that was a way to look at the surroundings you'd miss otherwise!

  6. Chm, I agree about feeling 'fresh' as the 'moustiquaire'-like airco was definitely very efficient! :))

  7. WCS, are the shutters in the picture white like the facades, or was the color photo-shopped out? Are shutters being the same color as the stone a French thing?

  8. What a fine photo, Walt! It makes me homesick for France.

    I rode in a 2CV only once when I was 15 in Montpellier. It was quite a novelty for me since small cars were still rare in the US and my parents always drove Oldsmobiles.

  9. The photo does not "scream" France. It whispers it, over glass of chilled white.

  10. Back in the 70's and 80's there was a fair bit of 2CV racing here in the UK....people would drive to the (grass) track in their pride and joy, un-bolt the wings, doors, roof, etc. and fly round the track with huge smiles on ther faces. Then when the trophies were all won they'd re-assemble and drive home.
    Makes those F1 boys look a right buch of anoracks with their wind tunnels and tyre heaters if you ask me!


  11. Diogenes, shutters on houses in France are often painted white. And that white is often softened — grayed — by age.

  12. I think your assessment of the 2CV's fame is spot on.

  13. jean, summer's coming!

    martine, I would have one if I could just toss money around. But as a real second car I'd prefer something more modern.

    leon, haven't seen it, but I like Renault 4's, too.

    barb, thanks!

    judy, that's why your hands are covering your ears!

    chm, did you used to do their marketing? lol

    diogenes, the shutters on the closest building are pale blue. The others are white. Shutters come in all colors. Have you ever been to Provence?

    evelyn, Ken used to have a Renault 4L and the seats were simply vinyl stretched across a frame, kind of like a hammock, if I remember correctly. Amazing little cheap cars.

    chris, oh, yes. I like that much better.

    nick, couldn't agree more.

    starman, thanks.

  14. WCS and Ken, I have been to Provence and I think that's what was on my mind when I asked the question - the many colors there, versus the north. That, plus I am friends with a French couple in LA that painted the shutters on their already white house - you guessed it - white. :-)

  15. I adored my old R4, till the floor fell out.

  16. I spent the summer of 1970 in Europe chasing summer music festivals around. I rented a Renault 4 and loved it dearly, especially that L-shaped gear shift handle that came out of the dashboard. It held a lot of baggage, sipped gas, and was fun to drive.

    The little Citroëns, however, really are a French symbol to me.


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