Words by Ben, snaps by June & Ben
Paris, the city of romance, the city of love, the city of fashion, the city of architecture, we've heard it all. But the city of cars? Heck yeah, Paris does have something for us motorheads! The Champs Elysées isn't only a jewellery box for high fashion brands, it also houses a series of showrooms that bridge the car and the fashion worlds. As I walked down the famous avenue, my feet led me to No.42, the Citroën pad, called C42.
The building isn't hard to spot, with its full glass front that incorporates the chevrons in its design. It's inside that things get interesting as the showroom, stretching over 4 stories (make that 5 with the basement), showcases 7 platforms giving glimpses of the past, present and future of Citroën's range of cars.
The showcased rides are changed as the seasons go by, and my trip to C42 greeted me with the C5 Airscape, a drop-top concept version of the C5 that looked rather production-ready. The open-top ride set the mood of the showroom for the summer season, as heralded above the main entrance: Open Air by Citroën.
Behind it was the souvenir shop, where you can find almost all the models that Citroën has ever build, in small scale, and some other chevron-branded items and clothes.
The basement of C42 was dedicated to WRC and featured Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena's DS3 WRC under an arch boasting their 2012 victory.
Going up the levels of the showroom, Citroën had the Rosalie on the first platform. The Rosalie first rolled out of the factories in 1932. It was a lightweight racing car that set a few track records at the Montlhéry racing circuit and was the chevron brand's bread and butter between 1932 and 1938. This particular model, like the Airscape beneath it, followed the open-top theme.
Half-a-storey above, the DS3 Cabrio set on an accessible rotating platform, was being swarmed by adults and children alike.
The youngest even had the opportunity to set their eyes on what could be their own DS3. I could hear the moans of kids bugging their parents for one of these.
Above the DS3, Citroën had me take another step back in time with the 2CV Spot, and its retractable soft top. I've always loved the 2CV, and while this one looked well maintained, I always prefer hearing them zoom about the streets, leaning ridiculously in the corners, like no other car can.
Above the 2CV was the Méhari, which was celebrating its 45 years. The topless ride was well known for its plastic body which was easy to maintain and made it the perfect little off-roader. Tipping the scale under 600kg and powered by a flat twin engine, this car could get about anywhere, and became a popular army vehicle in the 80's.
The 6th platform was showcasing the original DS (DS19), once again in its convertible variant. From the mid-50's to the 70's, this car was one of France's most beautiful creation. Not only was it gorgeous, but its 18 years of secret development made it push the ride-versus-handling boundaries of cars back then. The DS (pronounced as déesse [deh ess] - goddess in French) became and instant classic and branded Citroën as an automotive innovator.
Finally reaching the top floor, I came face to face with a box, apparently hiding a new car. Was it heralding the future of the chevron brand's cabriolet range?
Hopefully Citroën cut slots in the box to let curious minds see the content. So I peeked. After all, they did say "be indiscreet", so I did.
Yeah. The DS4 cabriolet. or with a glass roof, I wasn't sure. In all honesty, I was expecting a stonking hot drop-top concept or something along these lines, and the sight left me a bit disappointed.
No worries tho, the Champs Elysées had a few more showrooms along its stretch which, I hoped, would fully satisfy my motorhead cravings.
Stay tuned for the next Parisian experience: Mercedes' showroom!