Gentlemen Drivers in Paris Rally around the Film “Rendezvous”
Photography by David Marvier for Petrolicious
The Matching Numbers group, a Gentlemen Drivers network in Paris, recently planned and participated in a rally inspired by the film C’était un Rendez-vous (1976), directed by Claude Lelouch. The film shows an eight-minute drive through Paris beginning early in the morning. Engine revving, gear changing, and tire squealing can be heard, but the car itself is never seen, because the camera is attached below the front bumber. The car stops in front of a curb in Montmartre, in front of the famous Sacré Cœur, where the driver exits the car to embrace and kiss a young woman with the city and the basilica’s bells in the background.
The recap below is provided by Bertrand, who was able to use his newly acquired Proteus C-Type Jaguar for its very first event.
It’s 5:00 AM on Sunday morning, and we are scheduled to meet at 6:45 at Place Victor Hugo in downtown Paris for a rally that will take us through the streets where Claude Lelouch filmed for his movie. (It is said that Lelouch got arrested for crossing Paris in eight minutes.)
At this dark time of the morning, the city belongs to us. Place Victor Hugo is already looking very different than normal—it’s jammed with Testarossas, AC Cobras 289s, a Pantera GTS, some 356s, a Mini Cooper S, Ultima GTRs, 997s, 190 SLs, Alfa Bertone, 550 Maranellos, and more.
The briefing is clear; this edition of C’était un Rendez-vous’ will be fun above all else. At the same time, speed limits to be respected and we will keep the noise level as low as we can. To secure these guidelines, we will have to follow a one-hour-thirty-minute schizophrenic road book made of quizzes, classic pictograms, blank maps, and German arrows (used by the German army during WWII to go from one point to another without signage). With these limits, there’s no way to go fast and furious, but we are excited.
At 7:00 AM, the first cars take off every 30 seconds. After 650 meters, we take a left and go around the Place Dauphine. After 400 meters more, we’re on Avenue Foch, on the exact path Lelouch took to start his movie! We’d better pay attention to the road book as we enter the narrow streets around Place Vendome. Now we’re off of Lelouch; that would have been too easy. As a small amount of light seeps into the sky, we stop for an incredible coffee and croissants at the McGregor flagstore on Avenue de Capucine, which opened early just for us.
Our cars are back on the street at 30second intervals. We pass Trinité, Pigale, and are now climbing Montmartre. The deep, deep blue sky turns red with the rising of the sun. Collectively we forget our road books for a moment—all cars have stopped to enjoy the most beautiful view of Paris. Lionnel and Anna take their 550 Maranello in front of the Sacré Cœur, facing Paris, and kiss in front of their car just like Lelouch did 37 years ago. (Magic!)
Now it’s time to head back. We drive through and along Place de la Concorde, Boulevard Saint Germain, and Les 2 Magots. Let’s pay attention to the traffic light sequence which is suddenly not chronological. (What a joke.) Cars are all around the square trying to find their way. At #2 Rue de l’Amiral de Coligny begins the ‘German Arrow’ section of our road book. It is a nightmare. I had thought I got things straight, but I absolutely did not. It’s already 9:15 am, and after restarting the “German Arrows” three times, I decide to quit and go directly to our final destination: Restaurant de l’Opera.
All the cars park in front of this magnificent building built in 1861 by Charles Garnier for Napoleon III for a well deserved brunch!
C’était un rendez-vous…