The allure of a classic car rally is as bright as the chrome trim on the vehicles taking part. Today marks the start of a rally that is certain to charm and delight participants and onlookers alike: la route des villages Paris-Cannes.
Organised by the Association des Plus Beaux Villages de France, the rally is open to one of the country’s most iconic cars of all time: the Citroën 2CV. Even now, the “deux chevaux” (two horses), as it is known, holds its own against many of its more expensive rivals.
It was launched back in 1948 as a utilitarian vehicle for France’s many farmers. Nearly four million were produced before production was halted in 1990 – or almost nine million if you include the various spin-offs of the original.
Twenty of them are expected to take part in the rally this week. The event also has an air of a treasure hunt about it, as each day participants will have to collect clues en route from seven of the most beautiful villages.
They will pass through the villages of Vézelay (in Yonne), Charroux (Allier), Salers (Cantal), Sainte-Enimie (Lozère), Les Baux-de-Provence (Bouches-du-Rhône), Gordes (Vaucluse) and Tourtour (Var).
Each clue will help them to solve a puzzle and clinch the top prize.
Oh, to be in Cannes next Sunday, when the cars arrive. As a Brighton resident, I’ve seen many vintage car rallies arrive in the city. Each time, their owners’ faces beam with pride at having made the 87km (54 miles) between the London starting point in Hyde Park and the finish line in Brighton. So I can only imagine how the people who have made the 1,680km (1,043 miles) from Paris to Cannes will feel.
You can’t help but wonder whether the designers of the original budget 2CV ever imagined the car would be used for such distances – or be able to cover them.