Think of it as a French Beetle. For almost a half-century, Citroön's 2CV—better known as deux chevaux (two horses), a reference to its underpowered engine—was hugely popular with farmers and urban bohemians because of its cheap price and trouble-free engine. Fourteen years after the last deux chevaux rolled off the assembly line, its appeal endures. The essential piece of any car collection, its appeal stretches well beyond France, with clubs active across Australia, Europe, Israel, Japan and the U.S.
The car has long been popular with visitors to France, and now Florent Dargnies, a 24-year-old entrepreneur, has started a touring company that ferries passengers in and around Paris in vintage 2CVs. Dargnies got the idea for his outfit, 4roues-sous-1parapluie (four wheels under one umbrella, an allusion to the car's simple canvas roof), last spring when he was stopped by throngs of tourists while driving his own gray 2CV in Paris. "It just clicked," he remembers. He experienced his car's pulling power again in the fall while driving from Paris to Berlin. "It's a French icon like the beret or the baguette," he says. Dargnies offers three options: the Essential Tour, a review of the city's must-see monuments (1 hr. 30 min., $90); the three-hour Magic Tour ($155), which covers a wider selection of Parisian attractions; and the Unique Tour, an à la carte option allowing daylong excursions in and around Paris ($178 for the first three hours and $47 for every additional hour). Each car comes with a chauffeur and accommodates three tightly packed passengers. www.4roues-sous-1parapluie.com