The Iconic French Car

IMG_4648The Citroën 2CV–pronounced deux chevaux, or two horse, after the engine–is the model that most screams “French.” While Detroit was churning out land yachts in the postwar years, Citroën came up with the modest 2CV as an economy model in 1948. They were in production for 40 years. Is that classic or what?

Citroën, are you listening? Bring it back, but electric!

The 2CV might be barebones and simple, for easy maintenance and low gas consumption, it has tons of style.

That curved top, that rolls back for a sunroof! It was designed so people could transport big items, letting them stick out vertically. Practicality plus style–so French. IMG_4829Those round headlights, with visors like eyelids!IMG_4815Those voluptuous fenders and fender skirts!P1040714I think my favorites, besides all red, are the two-tone paint jobs that accentuate the curves.2CV copyIf Citroën gets the good sense to bring it back, I hope they don’t do like the VW Beetle and the Mini Cooper and make it too big and blown out, like somebody puffed out by steroids. Keep it small and simple. With flair.IMG_4811If you want to see the 2CV in all its cinematic glory, here are a few films:

Brigitte Bardot drives one very badly in “La Bride sur le Cou” (The Bridle on the Neck–it’s an expression that means doing whatever one wants).IMG_4808In “Eat, Pray, Love,” Julia Roberts’ friends drop her off in Rome in a two-tone 2CV.

In “Red 2,” Mary-Louise Parker drives, with John Malkovich nervously riding shotgun, in a car chase in Paris against a Porsche.

This isn’t a 2CV but a Citroën Dyane, a model based on the 2CV.

To show how poor the madly-in-love couple (Demi Moore and Woody Harrelson) is in “Indecent Proposal,” they drive an old 2CV.

There are some great moves in this old French movie, “Le Tracassin.” I have witnessed the drive-on-the-sidewalk move in Paris.

Another Dyane.

Carole Bouquet drives Agent 007 to safety in a 2CV in “For Your Eyes Only,” but then he takes the wheel.

A 2CV figures in “Les Amants,” a film far better known for Jeanne Moreau’s portrayal of an orgasm.IMG_4816There really are too many more to count–which is only to be expected from a car that was produced for four decades.

Hell on Wheels

over riverWhat is it about guys, dirt and hard rock?

For two days, a sleepy village (because the main advantage of a village is tranquility) was jolted awake at 6 a.m. to the dulcet strains of AC/DC.

This in a country where you aren’t supposed to cut your grass before 9 a.m. on Saturday or 10 a.m. on Sunday.

The music accompanied over 1,000 testosterone-charged mountain bikers (there supposedly were a few women, but I didn’t see any, this year or any other) who were going to ride to the highest point of the Black Mountains, and back down.

Some took buses to the top and just rode down.

The good news is that they take little paths and don’t block the roads. These are VTTs, or vélo-tout-terrain (all-terrain bike). They scoff at roads. The bad news is that an M.C. babbled nonstop over throbbing music from dawn until dusk. For two days.

arrival stageBased on what was forced into our ears, M.C.s must have to pass a unintelligence test.

Animation consisted of bike acrobatics and, this being France, wine tasting, of the Amethyst wine from the Limousis caves.

Although these guys came to ride bikes 25-100 kilometers, they weren’t about to walk 20 extra steps. Many ignored the free parking lot with its shortcut to the activities, sure they could find something even closer.

Maybe they were just staying true to the unwritten French rule of not parking in the parking lot. Maybe because there’s usually a fee. The French (and some other European nationalities….I’m looking at you, Belgians) will put their cars in peril rather than pay for parking. And even in a free parking lot, they pay little attention to those silly white lines marking out spaces for each car. Mostly they specialize in stationnement gênant–blocking sidewalks, driveways, doors, other cars. Car mechanics must make a fortune on realignments.

The law-abiders’ parking lot …. before
…and after. Crowded but not full. And now we’re back to empty grass.

Monday’s wake-up call was once again the singing of birds.




Eye Candy


Some things are too majestic to ignore. You can hurry on with your busy life, but you’re missing out if you don’t stop and soak up an amazing sunset.

Others are simply so strange you can’t help but stop and gawk.

Tiny car

These extra-tiny cars don’t require a license. They also don’t go very fast. They are like riding mowers with roofs. Most of them look like shrunken Smart cars. But even in this range, I’ve never seen a model that was, well, what is this? A dwarf pickup? Who? Why? So many questions.

I also saw my first Twizy. It makes the Aixam above look like an SUV. It sped around the corner, leaving me with my jaw gaping to the sidewalk as I tried to comprehend what had just gone by. It was gone before I could get out the camera, but I will be on the prowl for it now. Meanwhile, you can get a look here.

Then there are cute things, noticed while out and about.

Eurofoot chocolates

For example, in honor of the current 24/7 Euro Foot thingy that’s everywhere, the chocolatier Jeff de Bruges tried to make soccer more …. palatable.

And finally, some things grab your eyes and your nose.

gene closerThe genêt is flowering. Entire hillsides are covered with clouds of yellow flowers. They have a heavy, sweet fragrance that travels far on the breeze.

In English, it’s a broom plant. It grows all over the garrigue, and often along the roadsides, in big, voluptuous bushes that reach maybe 10 or 12 feet tall. It’s just green most of the year, but in May and June it changes everything to gold.

gene far