Ever felt like a Parisian celebrity, turning heads throughout the City of Light? Neither had I—until I climbed into the back seat of a beloved vintage car for the Private Citroen 2Cv Tour: Secret Paris. The most famous and bubble-round car in France, Citroen 2CVs are like Pied Pipers of happiness, creating a ripple effect of smiles wherever they roll.
When Martin, a warm, friendly history student who grew up in Paris, drove up outside our rental flat in the Champs-Élysées and welcomed my friend and me aboard Seraphine, a Citroen 2CV from the 1950s, we resisted the urge to clap our hands in glee. Martin (pronounced “mar-TAHN”) then asked if we’d like the cloth roof rolled back to let in a little Parisian sky and we couldn’t help squealing, “Yes, please!” On this soft grey day in April, there was a chill in the air, but we found fleecy blankets in the way back and draped them over our laps like fine ladies on a city safari. We tilted our heads back to see the tops of elegant buildings glide past, details we’d surely have missed on foot and in taxicabs.
We could have asked Martin to take us anywhere we’ve always wanted to go in Paris, but we opted to see his well-studied version of the city. In an hour and a half, he showed us a former tavern from the 13th century that’s in immaculate condition; the miniature backstreets of the Île Saint-Louis; an ancient Roman amphitheater in Saint-Germain de Pres; a secret garden at a château behind the Louvre; and more, providing a bit of anecdotal history (in fluent English) at each stop on the way.
One of the best parts of the experience? At every streetlight and tour stop, people would exclaim over Seraphine, and then peer into the back seat to catch a glimpse of her lucky passengers. When Martin dropped us off at the Pantheon (at our request), we were sad that our stint as pseudo-stars had come to an end.
Though this was my third trip to Paris, I found the tour a fun, exciting way to learn much more about a city I already love. And if you want a real treat for your own tour, I’d encourage you to ask for Martin—and Seraphine.
- Melanie Waldman
All photos courtesy of Melanie Waldman.