Hello again, all. You may remember me from the time I somehow got interviewed to be a host on the next US Top Gear, or maybe even the time I drove past a fatal accident. Or perhaps you don’t know me at all. Either way, I’m glad you’re here.
My wife and I recently had a chance to go to France, which should be obvious by the headline but then again, maybe this whole post is stating the obvious. I admit, before this trip I knew NOTHING about cars that aren’t found in America and don’t come from a country ending in Y. A lot of this might be common knowledge, but it was fascinating to me, especially being my first time outside the USA.
Another disclaimer… this was a vacation, and I happened to take a couple poor pictures of cars while walking around. This was not a “let’s go to France so we can see/drive/write about the cars” and I don’t have a Doug-Demuro-style “I did this [WEIRD THING] with my [WEIRD CAR] in [PARIS]” video to go with it, sorry.
Nice Cars in the City? Nope
Most of my trip was in Paris and Marseille, the two largest cities in France. I quickly learned that it would be absolutely pointless to have a nice car there, and saw only two that were decent. There was a new Alfa Romeo 4C Spider safely parked in a garage, and driving near the Eifel Tower there was some sort of Lambo that I’m pretty sure was a rental, dude.
Styles, Colors, and Brands
I hate that I just used a meme, but it was appropriate. I’d guess around 70-80% of the cars I saw were hatchbacks, with at least one dent in the fender. I’ll get to why in a minute.
For colors, you have your choice of whatever color can be found on a dirty sidewalk. Lots of gray, black, brown/green, dirty-white, and a smattering of red (blood?) with rare blue (gum?). There simply were not bright colors anywhere to be found. It made sense, because nobody was wearing bright colors either, except for tourists.
The three main brands, which you won’t find in the US, were…
And Cittroen, which were so boring that I didn’t even get a picture of one, but here’s their double-mustache logo:
There were also several Mini Coopers, tons of Smart Cars, a few Fords (Fiestas and Fusions), a total of 3 Jeeps, and not a single pick-up truck to be seen. No muscles cars or anything close to it either.
On the “out of my price range but not extreme” range, there were a lot of Jags, Mercedes, Audis, and BMWs, but nothing out of the ordinary. Why?
Holy crap, the parking. I just googled “synonym for ‘shit show’” and didn’t find anything more accurate to describe it. This is why people don’t have nice cars in the main cities.
They use the bumper to actually “bump” the cars to know that they’re close enough. There were three times when I saw a car hit another when leaving a parking spot, and each time they drove away like nothing happened.
They park in whatever direction they feel like:
They park more on the curb than off the curb:
They drove in pretty much the same manner. Rules seemed more like suggestions, which was especially true for the thousands of motorcycles who would drive literally anywhere they could, regardless as to if it was even a paved surface.
Our Two Favorite Cars of France
Once we escaped the city and got purposely lost in the countryside, the cars improved greatly. Our two favorites were still found in the cities though. Right next to our hotel, my wife found this cute little guy just chilling:
And then, I turned a corner and stopped dead in my tracks at a sight I have always dreamed of seeing. I couldn’t believe I was finally seeing one in person. The official Ugliest Car Ever Made, the Fiat Multipla:
I can die happy now.
Oh, I also saw what I think is a 1972(?) Citroen DS 21, (or I’m now told, possibly the Citroën Tiburón) but I could be totally wrong about that. If I am, please destroy my self-admitted lack of French car knowledge in the comment section.
And here’s a French Kitty on a motorcycle:
I didn’t drive a single vehicle on the trip, which was honestly pretty nice. We walked about 14 miles a day, which really gives you a new perspective on cars and transportation in general.
I also didn’t see anything that blew my mind, and I’m ok with that. I thought it was just as entertaining to see all these little hatchbacks and French cars than to see a random supercar or something nicer.
Our next bucket-list trip is New Zealand (better than Old Zealand). I doubt the cars there will be any more exciting, but that’s just fine with me.