(Two lovers under an umbrella)
This post is a little outdated but 3 weekends ago, N surprised me with a belated birthday experience in Paris. Those of you who follow my ramblings will know that I celebrated my birthday in August with some very memorable celebrations and a series of wonderful gifts and surprises.
Given the long distance, N saved his treat for a tete-a-tete experience in my new hometown themed around my move and becoming more of a parisienne. My birthday surprise consisted of a show, a French dinner, a tour around Paris and a Parisienne brunch. The highlight was definitely the tour. Of-course I had no idea what he had planned and as I naively followed him thinking he was heading towards the metro, he ran into a bright orange car as I was being greeted by a woman who I had never seen before. I was naturally confused as I often am. Seeing the puzzled look on my face, she could see i had no clue what I was in for. Given I have been to Paris multiple times as a tourist, N had organized a tour around the city to discover the “Unknown Paris” in an effort to make me more of a local. What made this tour extra special was the ride. We were driven around Paris in an old bright orange 2CV Citroen also known as “deux chevaux” aka two horsepower. I’ve discovered this car carries high significance for the French for its symbolism and the fact that almost everyone I have mentioned it to so far has a parent or grandparent who once owned one.
So here’s a little story. Apparently once upon a time between 1948 and 1990, the French car manufacturer Citroen produced this economy car called the deux chevaux. This car was conceived and designed to evolve the French peasantry from horses and carts. Although intended to be frugal this car was quite technologically advanced and innovative for its time but still extremely functional and no-frills in its build. Somewhat Bauhaus in its design, it has a rather vintage feel that i am convinced inspired the mini cooper somewhere along the line! It is charming to ride in with its strange door handles (which i couldn’t figure out for a while!), the manual windows with a latch and the roof that can be pulled back and manually tied. Truly utilitarian. It certainly isn’t a quiet car as its engine exerts apparent effort to wind its way through the streets of Paris but the hum of the engine is part of the experience and being inside it felt like stepping back in time. Until today, it is considered one of Citroen’s most iconic cars and its extraordinary engineering and ingenius design have clearly stood the test of time. Apparently the manufacturing moved to Portugal in the late 1980’s before production halted a few years after.
It was a lovely experience around the city as we discovered some areas and quartiers we didn’t know. To be fair, a lot of the areas we saw weren’t new as much as the buildings/parks/structures in them. As we made our way through Paris, stopping every so often to take photos, I made mental notes of all the places I want to return to. I am yet to do that. In between my move and the endless unpacking, its been impossible to play tourist but the good news is that I am almost done. I am giving myself until Jan 1st to be fully settled in before the exploration shall commence in full force.
Whether you are visiting Paris or live here, this is a very original way to explore the city and to do it in a memorable way. This company – 4 roue sous 1 parapluie– (4 wheels under an umbrella) organizes so many kinds of tours across several French cities. It was a rainy morning and we were only able to enjoy it with the top down for a short while so check the weather in advance but it was sooo much fun nonetheless.
Thanks again my love ♥