Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A French Goddess

Isn't she a beauty? And she is indeed a French goddess -- une Déesse, the nickname for the Citroen DS (pronounced day-ess). I found her rear end -- excuse me, but I'm serious -- on one of my favorite Paris photo blogs, Un Jour à Paris. Enthralled, I wrote Cil at Un Jour à Paris, and he sent me the entire photo -- a Polly-Vous Francais exclusive. Everyone else gets to see this Venus dramatically divided in part 1 and part 2.

Un Jour à Paris is a daily photo blog with unexpected glimpses of daily life in Paris. It's one of my daily reads, and I highly recommend it.

The Déesse caught my eye because a decade ago I had the wild experience of driving one for a whole month. We did a summer house swap with a family in the Loire Valley when my kids we in grade school. As was the fashion, we swapped not only houses, but also, cars, pet care, garden watering chores -- the whole enchilada -- through a great home exchange organization called Intervac.
Without a lot of explanation, our French host Maurice gave me the keys to his Déesse, and then he hopped on the plane for our place in Boston. While living in our house in New England, he drove a prosaic Volvo wagon for the month (automatic shift). All I knew was that I had a quintessentially standard-shift French car to drive. Little did I know that it was legendary. What a classic I was driving!

But imagine my surprise and consternation when on my first outing, stopped at a red light, the car lowered to the ground. Panicked, I thought something was amiss, and tried to pull over to the side of the road to see what had happened. Had the air gone out of the tires? But when I put her in gear, she rose back up like a mushroom cloud. Maurice hadn't warned me about the hydro-pneumatic suspension system. Once I figured out that it was a normal occurrence, the Déesse and I got along like soul sisters. She purred like a kitten down the autoroutes or départementales as we scoured the French countryside.

Now, that summer seems like an ancient dream.

It's rare to see a Déesse roaming the streets in Paris; I'm not sure why. Too valuable -- too much a collector's item -- to risk getting in a fender-bender, perhaps?

With the advent of spring weather, though, the Men In Convertibles seem to proliferate in Paris, cruising for love or some facsimile thereof down the boulevards. I am unswayed by the Mazzeratis, the Porsches, the various open-air décapotables that zoom past on the boulevard des Invalides with a solo male driver checking out the female scenery.

Then, one day -- a thrill. I spot a Déesse approaching, driven by a handsome man about my age. Ah, now there's someone I could relate to, I think. The car nears, and as it slithers around the corner, I notice a child seat in the rear.

I instantly hoped it was for his grandchild.

Probably not.

1 comment:

Autolycus said...

Imagine the special frisson I once had from staying with a two-car family: Papa's company car was a DS and Maman's runabout was grandpapa's 2CV that had seen better days. In the DS, you slowly and majestically rose into the air when it started. In the 2CV, you had to work the windscreen wipers by hand.

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