France: home of the 2CV, Renault 5, smoking as a compulsory pastime (or so it seems), the wonderful Le Mans Classic... and Disneyland Paris.
Yep – last week, we loaded up the car and headed under the English Channel so we could give the kids a pre-Easter break at the Euro branch of the Walt Disney empire.
If I’m honest, it’s not exactly top of my bucket-list, but we’ve been before, knew that the kids would have a great time and prepared ourselves for the inevitable battering that the credit card would receive thanks to overpriced restaurants and too many shops.
And enjoy themselves they did. Even the journey there and back was relatively painless thanks to sister magazine Autocar lending us a brand new Renault Scenic which managed Paris and back on a single tank of fuel – something none of my classics could dream of achieving.
I will admit, however, to spending the three hour drive across France on the way out there scanning the E15 for any signs of classic life and disappointingly I nearly drew a complete blank.
A lone 2CV and Renault 5 were all I saw. The most excitement was when we found ourselves in the midst of a motorcycle club outing which consisted of several hundred 'bikes convoying south.
I started to have withdrawal symptoms – there is not enough oil sloshing around the engine bay of a new Renault to produce even a faint odour and, with the eco-diesel averaging 40-odd miles to the gallon, I couldn’t even get a fix at the pumps.
It would appear that I would have to wait until Disneyland itself where I knew there would be at least a token offering of classic/faux-classic machinery with which I could reacquaint myself and achieve a sense of normality once again.
Odd considering that everything that surrounded it would be far from normal (unless of course you happen to have a six-foot mouse hanging around the house).
So, while Mrs P and the boys were looking the other way, trying to catch a glimpse of Buzz Lightyear high-fiving a genetically modified chipmunk for the cameras, I surreptitiously took the opportunity to ogle the array of (mostly) 1950s Yanks.
A Chevrolet station wagon that would make an awesome surf wagon, a Chevy 3100 converted into an ice-cream truck and a late '50s Corvette all provided some sort of alternative to my daily injection of 20w/50 and EP80.
And in the way of a true addict, I even found myself taking a lingering look at the underside of a 'Herbie' Beetle, but I’m not proud of that.
Worse perhaps was that I even stopped to take photos of the Hertz-sponsored vehicles that roam the park offering rides or selling refreshments.
I have very little doubt that these are all based on some modern machinery underneath the vintage exterior, but like a desperate alcoholic resorting to distilling methylated spirits from boot polish, it "did the trick".
I wonder if there is a twelve-step programme for classic car addicts.