Timeless French Icon: The Citroën 2CV

Citroen 2CV in Paris-Citroen 2CV
Please share this post:

What comes to mind when you see a baguette? A croissant? Some Bordeaux wine? A beret? Brie cheese? France, of course! There are so many symbols and items that are associated with France and I chose a timeless French icon: the Citroën 2CV to be in my website’s logo. While the car went out of production in 1990, the Citroën 2CV can still be seen all over France and every time I see it, I love France even more.

The “Deux Chevaux”

Jan and a Citroen 2CV
Jan and a Citroen 2CV

The Citroën 2CV is known as the “deux chevaux” or “deux chevaux-vapeur”  (two steam horses). The idea was conceived by Pierre-Jules Boulanger who was Citroën’s Vice-President and Chairman and it was designed in the late 1930s.  It was hoped that the car would be unveiled at the 1939 Paris Motor Show, but World War II got in the way. Manufacturing of the car finally began in 1948.  Almost 4 million of these rugged, utilitarian, basic cars were sold between 1948 and 1990 and they became very popular with the general populace as they were economical and reasonably priced (but certainly not luxurious).

The Design And The Ride

Friends have said that the ride is pretty rough, to say the least. There’s lots of metal, it’s not designed with aerodynamics in mind, and is not known to be one of the safer cars. The sunroof was creatively constructed. A metal opening? No. Just peel back the canvas cover and, voilà, your car is open to the sky.

Fast? Not even close. There’s a joke that it could do “zero to 60 mph…. in a day”.  But the design? Classic. That’s why I love it. To me, IT IS France. It can put a smile on your face every time you see it. And if you can’t see it on the street, you can see it in the movies (especially foreign ones) and on television. There is actually a website that lists hundreds of shows where the Citroën 2CV has appeared.

2CV In The Movies And On Television

The 2CV was prominently featured in the James Bond movie, “For Your Eyes Only” as well as Jerry Seinfeld’s 2013 “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” (the “No Lipsticks for Nuns” episode) with Gad Elmaleh, a French/Moroccan comic and actor. They take a ride in a 1950 Citroën 2CV through the streets of New York City discussing France and the history of the car. As Jerry says, “It’s just SO French”.

Citroen 2CV and “For Your Eyes Only”

Citroen 2CV and “Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee”

Citroën 2CV Rally

Citroen 2CV in Gordes, France
Citroen 2CV in Gordes, France

When I was in the south of France a few years ago, I discovered there was going to be a rally from Paris to Cannes and the famous French icon, the Citroën 2CV was going to be the star. As luck would have it, I was staying in a town near the hilltop village of Gordes, which was one of the stops. So of course I HAD to see some of these cars.

Through Twitter and messaging I was able to determine the day and roughly the time they would be driving through. I was very lucky I didn’t have to wait too long because soon after I positioned myself on the side of the road, the cars started coming up the hill and zipping around the corner toward the village. Getting photos of the pink Citroën 2CV made my day!

The French Icon: Citroën 2CV  As A Toy Car

A few years ago I bought two Citroën 2CV toy cars: one beige and one blue. I gave the blue one to my godson, but later on I had to bribe him to exchange his for the beige one. Why? Partly because the colour scheme in my website is blue and I wanted a car that matched my logo. But really, I wanted to take the toy car to Paris.

Citroen 2CV Toy car collage
Citroen 2CV Toy car collage

I know it sounds silly but I wanted to photograph the car in front of famous sites, such as the Eiffel Tower and Sacre Coeur. It turned out to be a fun way to take photos of 26 sites. The car is in focus, and the site or monument is blurred out in the background. Perhaps one day I’ll make a poster of all those shots. I did a little competition a while back and most people were able to name the sites. I mean, how could you NOT recognize the Eiffel Tower?

See if you can identify all 26 Paris sites: JansFrance 2CV

Citroën 2CV Tours In Paris

Citroen 2CV at Sacre Coeur, Paris
Citroen 2CV at Sacre Coeur, Paris

There are a number of companies that will take you on a tour of Paris in a Citroën 2CV. You can see them all over the city at famous sites, like Sacre Coeur where I got some great photos of one right in front of the church. I love the name of one of the companies. It is not only creative, but also describes the shape of the 2CV—4 tires under one umbrella. The name of the company is “4 Roues Sous 1 Parapluie”.

I hope one day to take a ride in a this French icon, the Citroën 2CV and I think the perfect place will have to be Paris, so I can zoom down the Champs Elysée and possibly feel a bit French.

Have you taken a ride in the Citroën 2CV? What did you think of it?

Timeless French Icon- The Citroen 2CV

Please share this post:

3 Comments

Comments are closed.