But all is not lost, there are ways to pep up your holiday experience with a 2cv adventure.
You can be driven through Paris in one, join a group of them travelling from the French Riviera to the UK or just rent one.
It cannot be said that the 2CV is beautiful. Some people lacking in soul have likened them to “an upturned pram” or “a tin snail.” They are not fast and sleek, but ‘loveable and friendly’ and the car that was once designed for the French farmer’s fields is now sought after by those who understand that while you might get to your destination in half the time on a motorway, you will see twice as much if you take it easy on a country road. In a 2CV with the top down you can enjoy the sun and soak up or the atmosphere. That can be a good or a bad thing depending on what is in the trailer that tractor in front of you is towing. At least a tractor is one of the vehicles that a 2CV is able to pass with some confidence.
And while the vehicle might seem basic you can appreciate the ingenuity and the economy in the design. Who needs expensive windows that whizz up and down at the touch of a button when you can open them by flapping them up on a hinge?
Renting a 2CV
Aubeterrre-sur-Dronne, close to the border of Charente and the Dordogne, is listed as one of the most beautiful villages in France. It is a place where you can swim in the river or hire a canoe. You can also rent a 2CV. We followed the twisting narrow road up to a small park filled with lavender plants and looked out across the rooftops. The chimes from bell of Eglise Saint-Jacques echoed around the houses and almost next door to the church we found the little workshop of Tour de Canard. The sign on the door depicted a red 2CV being chased by ducks. It was where Peter Van Heijst repairs and pampers the 2CVs. He generally brings them up to date by installing efficient braking system etc., For more information about renting one look on line at http://www.tourdecanard.com/en/contact.html or email Mariannes Hazejager at
[email protected] or telephone her on 0033 6 31 20 68 33
We drove south and switching off the sat nav found a wealth of byways to explore. Over the hills we went and were impressed with the great wide vistas that opened out before us.
The French are tuned in to life in the open air and the 2CV seems to be in it’s element as you drive along the tree lined roads looking for one of the picnic rest stops. These are usually equipped with tables made of timber or concrete but one we sat at was elegantly tiled. I would have been proud to have it in our kitchen at home. Yes they’ve got style. We relaxed and contentedly watched a pair of herons, fly over the river fishing for their breakfast.
In Lot-et-Garonne at the little hamlet of Dolmayrac we saw grapes hanging heavy on the vine. Then we passed a sign that said “two euros a bottle”. It registered and we did a ‘u’ turn and followed the track that led to Domaine D’Arfeuille where another and more imaginative sign depicted two black and white cows enjoying a glass of wine at a café. Moments later we were at the farm being welcomed by a large brown dog and a lady who opened up a stable door to reveal rows of bottles ranging from the palest pink to the darkest red.
It wasn’t until dinner later that evening that we realised just how good the wine was. The price might have been comparable to what you would have paid for the cheapest wine in a French supermarket but it was delightful to drink. It was wine of a much higher order; our only regret was that we did not buy more. We have marked the place on the map for our next visit to France.
Now we may not know much about wine but Ulrich Vollmer who rented a bright blue 2CV does. He was in the area at the same time as us and is a wine merchant from Austria.
He combined his passion for the vehicle with a tour of wineries in South West France.
He and his wife drove as far as Pau, close to the mountains of the Pyrenees and the open top of the 2CV worked its magic. It allowed them to appreciate great scenery, villages, towns and castles. Drinking it all in his wife Maria was beaming with pleasure and standing up in the vehicle as they arrived at Chateau du Cedre in Cahors. After visiting the vineyard and sampling a quality wine that has been acclaimed as “fresh and elegant” they stayed in Duravel, spending the night in Le Couvent, a small local hotel with a swimming pool. The room cost 66 euros.
For information online see http://www.lecouventduravel.canalblog.com
We agreed with his tips for travelling in a 2CV, “Avoid the motorways, better to use the Route National and allow enough time for travelling.”
Ulrich rented his 2CV through the 2CV club of France in Toulouse by contacting Henri Lenguin at http://www.2cvclubdefrance.free.fr/ Telephone (33) 05 61 07 24 53
So how would you sum up the appeal of the 2CV ? Well to take quote from The Association of 2CV Clubs of France; “Its not a car, it’s a way of life”
If you want to immerse yourself in them an estimated two thousand eight hundred of the vehicles are expected to attend the association’s 24th annual rally in Nimes in 2017, May 24th to 28th.
The group that travel to the UK from The French Riviera is organised by 2CV Adventures. They cross the Channel with Brittany Ferries and sail from Caen in Normandy. Perhaps after such an achievement the drivers can feel that they are part of a latter day ‘Norman Conquest.’ On line check out www.2cvadventures.co.uk and www.brittanyferries.com
For sightseeing tours of Paris look up www.2cvParisTour.com
You may see all the main sights but you might not hear the heart beat of the old 2CV.
The engines have been replaced with electric motors to comply with emissions regulations.
The 2CV, "Its not a car, its a way of life"
The traffic around the islands capital Palma in Mallorca might make you question the wisdom of car rental but once away from the airport there are great little roads and villages to explore. I found quite dramatic scenery when driving through the mountains to Valdemosa. Unfortunately I had the top of the 2CV open and I got drenched in a thunderstorm. That was just my luck on an island that has over 300 days of sunshine a year.
In a perverse way it was fun. There was nowhere to stop and I found myself getting soaked as the warm rain pelted down on me and began to fill both the seat beside me and, eventually my underpants.
At Valdermosa a Dutch couple, Karin Boone and Peter Groot run ‘Ducks United’ They have seven 2CVs that sit in shiny mint condition amid a collection of classic cars. At about 300 euros a week hiring one is a good deal. They can also arrange accommodation. The vehicles are popular on the island and attract attention wherever you go. The company ‘Ducks United’ started in Ibiza where a small group of Dutch friends found that the 2CV with its high suspension was ideal for traversing rough tracks and expanding the choice of available beaches.
There are now some twenty six vehicles on offer and the idea has proved so popular that they went on to introduce the 2CV s to Cur in the Caribbean, Minorca and now have their sights set on Havar in Croatia.
Rufus in winter
dreaming of warm spring roads in France
2CVs in the Spanish Balearic Islands
Text and pictures by Allan Rogers and Ulrich Vollmer
Many years ago I fell for Barbette, she was French and certainly turned heads,
even in Britain she often went topless, but then my wife had Rufus.......
We are actually talking about cars, a couple of Citroen 2CVs that we once owned.
They got noticed and they raised smiles as we happily drove along with the roof down
Barbette was blue and Rufus a kind of rusty red. He was disinclined to engage reverse gear but we enjoyed both of them. Even then they were old but they were the cheapest alternative to an open top sports car. Looking back perhaps we never should have parted with them, because now the vehicle is regarded as a desirable classic.