From remote French villages, to big cities like Paris, and even beyond the French borders, there are certain cars and vehicles made by French companies that have left a mark in the consciousness of French people. Though most of them are not produced anymore, they are still revered their reliability and or their style, and some have even become such important symbols of French culture as the béret or the baguette.
The 2 CV (pronounced ‘deux chevaux’, or more popularly as ‘deuche’, ‘deudeuche’ or ‘dodoche’) is the quintessential French car, unique in design. it was produced by the car maker Citroën between 1948 and 1990. Despite a notorious ‘bounciness’, its simplicity and affordability made it very popular.
In contrast with the popular 2CV, the Citroën DS (pronounced ‘déesse’, which translates as ‘goddess’) is synonym with elegance & distinction (it was Charles De Gaulle’s presidential car). Produced from 1955 to 1975, it became a sensation because of its aerodynamic, futuristic design and innovative technology, featuring a hydro-pneumatic suspension which raises the car automatically at ignition.
From the 1950s to the 1970s, the Peugeot 403 & 404 were prized for their strength and reliability. While the Peugeot 404 is still popular in developing countries like Africa, the Peugeot 403 convertible in particular is remembered as Columbo’s car in the famous TV series.
The Renault 4, also known as the 4L (pronounced ‘Quatrelle’), is a hatchback economy introduced by the French car company Renault in 1961. After decades of economic crisis, the 4L became a quick commercial success because of its practicality, reliability and exceptionally spaciousness for its size.
The Citroën Type H is a vehicle whose sturdiness became very popular especially as a delivery van (called ‘camionette’ or ‘fourgonnette’ in French) between the 1940s and early 1980s. Its strong, distinctive corrugated bodywork was inspired by German aircrafts of the 1930s.
The Mobylette is a model of moped by French manufacturer Motobécane. Launched in 1949, Mobylettes became an instant success, a perfect mode of transportation within cities or between villages. In France, they are often referred to familiarly as ‘moby’, or colloquially as ‘brêle’, ‘meule’.