Touring in a Citroen

Touring in a Citroen
Business types who want to know how they can make an impression on their colleagues and/or potential business partners come to our site (Bonjour Paris) all the time looking for the intriguing – they know we serve up more than just hotel and restaurant fare. This time we have not let them down!  We have discovered the most unique airport pick-up alternative sure to put a feather in the cap of someone who is trying to impress. After all, the whole picture of executives being squired around in limousines is so mundane. We don’t have anything against them, unless they’re stretch limos that Mafia Dons or squealing prom teenagers rent to transport them to and fro….. Happily, the French are more discreet and don’t like looking as if they’re dripping in money. However, many enjoy the out-of-the-ordinary experiences about which they can tell friends and acquaintances. Enter: “4 roues sous 1 parapluie” – a way to get anywhere (or tour) in Paris that’s really something to talk about.  We know an American business man who was negotiating for a contract from a French firm. His company’s proposal was good but he wanted to differentiate his firm from the other competitors. He made such an impression by “4 roues sous 1 parapluie”to take the eight people who were attending the meeting across Paris for lunch, that he snagged the deal. However, “4 roues sous 1 parapluie” isn’t only for business men – anyone can enjoy this ride. If you’re the type who likes to travel incognito, don’t even bother reading this article. This isn’t for you. You’ll be on display, people might stare, point and wave. Inevitably there are glances of curiosity or real nostalgia. If you’re in a theatrical mood, you might even want to wave at your public. This is no ordinary tour and one you’ll always remember. You and a companion will be chauffeur driven around the city (or to a specific destination) by a handsome driver, in a collector’s item car, 2 CV that was produced by Citroen.  The tour company is aptly named “Four Wheels under an Umbrella” or “4 roues sous 1 parapluie”. There are pre-set tours from which to choose. Select a “standard” two-hour tour or a four-hour one where you’ll ascend to Sacre Coeur in Montmartre. You’ll feel the vibrations of the cobblestones and see sights you’ve never seen. The canvas top of the car is open to the sky/admin/story/story/18150/ allowing new vistas. Who can look up that high and see friezes, cupolas and gargoyles without breaking necks? A regular car negates the possibility. Open double-decker tour buses are an option but, there’s no way they can navigate some of the tiniest streets in Paris.   “4 roues sous 1 parapluie”” offers different tours — day tours, night tours and ones that you can custom design. I can’t imagine anything more romantic for bridal parties. The owner, Florent Dargnies of “4 roues sous 1 parapluie” is a 25-year-old graduate of Ecole Normale Superieur where he studied business. Florent’s parents had a 2 CV sitting in the family’s home’s garage in Versailles. Each time he took the car into Paris, people gathered for a look-see. Even though it has a mini – mini appearance, the car can actually go 120 kilometers an hour.  “After that, it begins to shake,” the entrepreneur admits. When Florent was a student, he spent a year in Berlin and returned home increasingly convinced that he had a unique business. Two years ago, Florent started the company with two cars and now has five vehicles and five drivers. All of the drivers are university students or graduates and speak better than good English and know secret Paris. Florent anticipates expanding his fleet by two more 2 CVs in the near future. Even though he wouldn’t commit, I wouldn’t be surprised if “4 roues sous 1 parapluie”” were to spread to different European cities. Should you have time between plane connections, I can’t imagine a better way to see Paris than in a 2 CV.  A car from “4 roues sous 1 parapluie” would meet you at the airport and you could enjoy a tour between flights. It certainly beats sitting in an airport.  For that matter, what about booking a car to transport you into the city? You’d immediately get into a very Parisian spirit. The chauffeur would be more than happy to stop for a breakfast and you’d arrive at the hotel approximately at the same time the room would be ready. A little background about the Citroen 2 CV:  It was designed before World War II. Citroen called the car the “TPV” (“toute petite virtue” or “tiny little car.”). With war imminent in Europe, Citroen destroyed the 249 prototypes to keep them away from Germany. One car was hidden safely on a farm.  After the war ended, development continued and the car was introduced in 1948 at the Salon de L’Automobile in Paris. Pierre Boulanger, then President of Citroen, unveiled the show-stopper. Production began in 1949 and continued for 42 years. Boulanger was extremely tall and said he wanted a car where he could sit wearing a hat and still be able to drive. And the trunk had to have room for 50 kilos of potatoes. Despite the constant tongue-in-cheek ridicule the 2 CV received from the automotive press and the public, production orders were backlogged for six years by 1950….
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