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Seeing France?s Wild Mountains Through a Clouded, Classic Windshield

The Citroën 2CV
The New York TimesSupported byBy
Citroën 2CV.Stevenson
the Gorges du Tarn
Travel Dispatch

Mont Lozère
David McAninchIn
Robert Louis Stevenson
L.J.K. Setright
Louis XIV
Deux Chevaux
Sainte Enimie
Monsieur Lopez
gone.”David McAninch
Sebastian Modak

the Causse Méjean


the Chemin de Stevenson

Deux Chevaux

the War of the Camisards

Positivity     46.00%   
   Negativity   54.00%
The New York Times
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In May, also on something of a whim, my wife and I crossed the Cévennes mountains, still one of the wildest and most sparsely populated parts of the country, in the company of a slow-moving automobile called a Citroën 2CV.Stevenson described Modestine as recalcitrant and moody, as well as “cheap and small and hardy, and of a stolid and peaceful temper.” This also happens to be a pretty accurate description of our car, which was mint green, shaped like an umbrella and equipped with flip-up windows, tube-frame bench seats, a canvas sunroof canopy, a squeaky single-spoke steering wheel, and stalk-mounted headlights that reminded me of the eyes of an overeager dog. The fact that all of these striking natural features, each worthy of its own coffee table book, are packed cheek-by-jowl inside a single 360-square-mile national park just a three-and-a-half-hour drive from Lyon convinced me that the Cévennes — an area I’d scarcely heard of until recently, despite years of traveling in France and the fact that it’s a Unesco World Heritage Site — would be an inspired choice for a weeklong road trip with my wife, Michele.And, I thought, why not do it in a Deux Chevaux — as the model is universally known — the beloved “people’s car” of postwar France, a vehicle famously referred to by the British automotive journalist L.J.K. Setright as “the most intelligent application of minimalism ever to succeed as a car.” A road trip in a vintage 2CV would be the fulfillment of a long-held dream of mine, and thus when I found out you could rent one on — basically an Airbnb for cars — my plan was hatched. I’d eased the car onto a muddy pullout and killed the engine so that I could rest for a minute — my arms ached from wrestling with the manual steering and the balky L-shaped gearstick — and so that we could study the map to find the best route back to our hotel, a charming if slightly gone-to-seed establishment outside the village of Anduze.Now, as any horror-movie screenwriter will attest, was the moment to write in the rasp of a car failing to start. A distinct smell of gasoline suggested I’d flooded the engine — “drowned,” in the more blame-y French locution — and apparently we merely had to let the car rest “a short while.” Michele and I debated the meaning of that phrase, then decided to wait 10 minutes, during which we sat without saying much, listening to rain drum on the car’s canopy. It’s a favorite of French motorcyclists, who roared past us in great numbers — most of them decked out, like the hikers, in a fortune’s worth of fancy gear — as we approached Sainte Enimie, the riverside village where we’d spend our final night.A starter kit for escaping into the world.Over a midday meal of grilled lamb at an auberge in the center of town, Michele and I made a decision: We’d give the 2CV the rest of the day off. And when, finally, this same stranger had no success trying to jump-start our engine using his own vintage automobile — a cherry red Renault 4 that, I have to say, looked really handsome next to our Citroën — I came to an unpalatable conclusion: We’d have to abandon the 2CV and very hastily revise our plans.One cadged lift, a four-hour bus journey, and an interminably slow intercity train ride later, Michele and I were seated across from each other at a bistro in Paris’s 10th arrondissement making quick work of a carafe of Morgon.

As said here by By DAVID McANINCH