700 classics invade the French capital for bi-annual Traversée


The annual classic show of strength in the French capital – the Traversée de Paris – attracted an outstanding range of 700-plus cars, ’bikes, buses, cycles, vans and even tractors for the Vincennes en Anciennes event on 12 January.

The massively popular event – now in its 14th year – grows bigger and bigger despite city mayor Bertrand Delanoë pledging to ban all vehicles more than 17-years-old from Paris.

The classics taking part – all more than 30 years old – travelled 30km through the city, starting from the esplanade of the Chateau de Vincennes where they returned by lunchtime and formed an impromptu show until 4pm.

The route took in virtually all of the famous thoroughfares and landmarks, such as Monmartre, Les Invalides and Place Vendôme. More than 60 marques were represented, 90% of which are now extinct  – even such French rarities as Rosengart, Rolland Pilain and Salmson – while the seven Mercedes included a pair of 600s (one a beautiful pale-blue metallic Pullman) that looked suitably ambassadorial cruising down Place de la Concorde. 

Every two years the Traversée celebrates its links with the cinema, 2014 marking the centenary of the birth of film-preservation pioneer Henri Langlois. Over the years various guest patrons have supported the event, such as director Claude Lelouche, in 2010, who shot his famous C’était un rendez-vous from his Mercedes 450SEL 6.9 in ’76.

This year Olivier Marchal – best known for his roles in police dramas – was ‘arrested’ by a gang of gendarmes with an authentic Renault 12 patrol car. Legendary camerman Bernard Chateau, a veteran of more than 3200 features including La Dolce Vita, brought his custom-built rig.

The next Traversée is on 3 August: for more details go to www.vincennesenanciennes.com

More pictures

Pictures: Hervé Mazzocut


Jonathan Wadman

Surely the traversée continues to grow in popularity precisely because of Delanoë's threat, not despite it.


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