Criss-Crossing Paris With Hundreds Of Vintage Cars Is A Fine Way To Spend A Sunday
Photography by Mathieu Bonnevie
A few months ago we shared some scenes from the winter edition of Traversée de Paris (a trip across Paris), and though a bit colder and wetter than ideal, driving through the city in the early morning with a fleet of vintage autos was one of the best ways I can imagine seeing the sights. That is, whenever the cars don’t monopolize your sightseeing capacities. With the cars rivaling the metropolis’ own beauty, empty streets (for Paris anyway) on which to drive them, and a great group of people behind the various wheels, what is there left to improve?
Well, adding a few dozen degrees to the thermometer doesn’t hurt (this is a biannual event, occurring each January and July for the winter and summer edition, respectively), and neither does a garden lunch of saucisson and vin rouge following the tour of the city’s landmarks taken in from the passenger seat of a convertible. The winter edition is great for breaking the doldrums of the season, but nothing compares to the summer for a perfect day of classic cars in Paris.
The principle is the same though: it begins as a typical early-AM Cars & Coffee type of meeting, followed by the whole group (well, almost all of them) setting off through Paris’ famous neighborhoods, buildings, and monuments.
We started in front of the Château de Vincennes as always (this has been the start of the event since its inception), but in contrast to the bundled-up crowd waiting for their engines to warm up and warm them up in the wintertime, the 10th edition of the Summer Traversée honored convertibles, and the tops were already being folded down as early as 7am! The streets were markedly more crowded than they were last time (drizzling rain in January tends to keep people indoors more than the radiant days of July), but at least our portion of the traffic jam was a tasteful one!
Slowly, we picked our way through the grid of streets and passed by the most beautiful places in Paris. The trip includes informal stops at bars for café and croissant pitstops on typical Parisian terraces, and we also climbed Montmartre to visit the Sacré-Cœur and take in its breathtaking view of the city below, and it seems tourists appreciated our procession of cars too!
We then went down to the Place de la Concorde for a stop to join up with hundreds of cars and bikes (but also tractors and buses…). The Traversée ended just outside of Paris, at the Terrasse de Meudon, a lovely place to relax and enjoy a picnic on the grass near your car after a long winding drive through the capital. It is definitely an unmissable event for anyone who loves Paris and classic cars.