Traversée de Paris

Vincennes en Anciennes is a classic car club open to all marques, and, according to its web site, it is the largest such club in France. The club is best known for its organization of the Traversée de Paris (Crossing of Paris), which occurs twice annually, on the second Sunday of January and the first Sunday of August. The Traversée unites some 700 classic cars (all at least 30 years old), and these cars spend the morning crossing through Paris, driving around or past a selection of its more famous monuments.

These 700 classic cars are mostly French, German, British, or Italian, although a significant number of American muscle cars (mostly Mustangs or Corvettes) also participate. Italian cars were well represented in this January's Traversée. There were some Fiats (primarily 124 Spiders and X-1/9s), some Vespas, and an Autobianchi A112. A 1980s Ferrari Testarossa drove through one of the landmarks on the route, the charming, 17th-century Place des Vosges, past a lovely Fiat Dino coupe parked there, but it was not clear if either was actually a registered participant in the Traversée (as neither displayed a registrant's Traversée dashboard plaque).

Italy, in fact, was represented most of all by Alfa Romeo, and mostly by 1960s and 1970s GTs. Three generations of spiders were represented: a lovely 101 Giulietta Spider, a 1600cc coda tronca 105 Spider, and a 916 Spider (all driven top-down on a brisk, gray, January morning). But most of the Alfas were either Alfetta GTs (all with the lovely European-style bumpers that make these cars so much finer looking than US-market Alfettas) or variants of the model first sold in the US as the Giulia Sprint GT and which the French usually call a coupé Bertone (the US "GTV" denomination reflects the fact that from 1969 to 1974 only top-of-the line 105 coupes were imported, whereas throughout their longer European run, these cars were offered with a choice among four engine sizes, ranging from 1300, to 1600, to 1750, to 2000 cc). Two of these, a 1300cc GT Junior and a 2000cc model, parked for a while in the Place des Vosges and drew many admirers among both spectators and passers-by.

For both participants and spectators, the Traversée is a wonderful opportunity to see rolling automotive history. The Traversée is not a parade; classic cars negotiate the city's streets and its present-day traffic (thankfully a bit lighter than usual on a Sunday morning), much as many of these cars did three or more decades ago. The sight of, say, a classic Mini or an early 1970s Alfa GT winding its way around a timeless setting like the Place des Vosges transports one back in time to those earlier decades, to a time when most cars were mechanically simpler and did not look too much like all the other cars, when the sight of a Mini-Cooper or a coupé Bertone parked at the curb or taking off from a traffic light was not that rare but still exciting.Tiny Quadrifoglio

[AONE European Correspondents Peter Walker and Meg Anderson are currently on assignment back in the Old Country for the first half of 2020 (poor souls). We hope that they'll be filing more Alfacentric reports for us during their stay! — Ed.]

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Traversée de Paris