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Little Blue Car

Little Orange Car

Here’s a fun fact about me: my license expired in December and I haven’t gotten it renewed. Now, before you think I’m breaking any laws, I cannot tell you the last time I was behind the wheel. Maybe three years ago? Four? As a perpetual city-dweller, I’ve never owned –nor felt a need for– a car. In fact, I was 20 when I finally cracked and got my license; I paid for driving lessons and went through a red light on my first one, prompting the instructor to say, “Um, okay, that was a red light. We stop at those.” I can’t drive fast, I keep my hands in the 10-and-2 position, and I get the sweats at the thought of merging. But parallel parking? I am an excellent parallel parker. At least, I was three years ago.

I’ve relied on my two legs and public transit for the majority of my life, and have never seen the appeal of paying a car payment, insurance, gas, parking, or any of the other costs that come with it. Sports cars do nothing for me. I honestly hadn’t given any thought to anything remotely vehicular since I was six, and my parents got me a bright red Ferrari for my Barbies.

And then I went to Paris. Where, while everyone relies on the metro or the buses, Parisians who have cars choose to have tiny, adorable cars. Vintage mini coopers; old, small Fiats; shiny, teensy Smart cars. No giant SUVs here, or oversized sedans people trade in every three years, no sir. Just wonderful, and wonderfully photogenic, little rides that startled me every time I saw someone emerge from one. For one of these pint-sized sets of wheels, I would happily abandon my permanent pedestrian status.

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July 30, 2014 / art / photo / Paris / travel / LEAVE A COMMENT / 28

28 comments

  • they are cute!

    but i always wonder, how much protection, one has, in them…?

    yes, very “olden lady” thoughts, i know!!!! ,-)

    but yes, they arrrrrrrrrre cute!!!!!

    tessa~

    • A friend of mine, who was very pregnant at the time, got into an accident in her Mini Cooper (new model, from the last few years) and was fine –so was the baby! I can’t attest to the durability of these older ones, though. They seem like toys. xo

  • Driving freaks me out too AND I can’t parallel park, so you’ve got me beat :-) I would gladly learn to conquer my fears in these super cute minis!

    • Haha it’s a skill that has come in handy on a few occasions when driving with people who had trouble getting into a space. xo

  • those are pretty adorable alright. i would very happily drive one of those around – though we might look like clowns stepping out of a clown car. i am not sure it would hold all us. portland is starting to fill up with the tiny eclectic cars. i am so happy they are catching on – i mean it’s kind of inevitable . . .

    i am all about the use cars. i couldn’t imagine forking out more than the cost of insurance and gas to drive around?! i know people who have $500 car payments (whaaa?!). me? i hate driving. i either drive like i am 90 years old going 3 miles per hour, in no hurry, just trying to remember where my turn is. or i drive like an angry 19 year guy that’s been listening to death metal all day while drinking some rockstar, and i drive whilst stringing curse words together for strangers who aren’t following my superior driving rules. so either way i am yelling or being yelled at while driving and i find both equally offensive to my soul.

    • Haha, the clown car visual did pop into my head more than a few times around Paris. Especially the cars that were brightly colored. I remember when you were undertaking your used car search, and you found the perfect one for you guys. I’ve never bought a car, wouldn’t even know where to start (aside from knowing I’d need something small). I am cracking up at the thought of you cursing and being aggressive behind the wheel! I definitely get passenger-road-rage whenever I’m in a car. Everyone is an idiot behind the wheel except whomever happens to be driving me ;) xo

  • Such cute cars. Whenever I visit a city with a metro I never miss driving, I don’t even miss the dependability of being able to leave whenever I want with my own vehicle, I still prefer taking public transportation! However, when I did buy my car (a Honda Fit) I chose it because it reminded me of the European hatch backs :)

    • Cute car! My parents had a tiny Honda Accord growing up. I wish the subway system in Philly was better (we have two lines. Two. One goes north-south, one goes east-west), but our buses are pretty extensive and you can get anywhere you need to on them. Even suburban malls! In the city, driving comes with the frustration of having to find street parking, so if you come home late at night, you end up circling for an hour looking for a spot. No thank you! xo

  • Everyone in Pennsylvania can parallel park. It’s part of the driving exam, so it’s a must. And funny, what we noticed about Paris was how many people had *our* car… a Volkswagon Tiguan. We saw nearly a dozen of these in our super short visit. And while not a honkin’ big SUV, it’s not nearly as sweetly tiny as these.

    • Wait, parallel parking isn’t on every driving exam? That’s crazy! I laughed the entire time I took lessons, because the space they set up for you to practice parking is about 15 feet long, when in reality you end up trying to squeeze your car into a space that maybe half your car will fit into.

      We live down the street from someone with a Tiguan! I didn’t know that was “your” car. Now I like it more :) xo

  • They’re like cute little clown cars. I can’t imagine life NOT driving (you know us Texans and our cars) but it’s all about what you’re used to. Not going to lie, I wistfully imagine a public transportation romantic encounter every once in awhile

    • Haha clown cars indeed. Yeah, I think it’s just what you’re used to! Growing up in a city there wasn’t a daily need for a car, unless you were visiting family in the suburbs, haha. xo

  • Je suis un peu comme toi Erin, j’en mon permis mais ça fait des années que je ne touche pas un volant, ça ne me intéresse pas plus que ça, je me suis toujours déplacée en vélo, en bus…mais si un jour j’achète une voiture elle sera forcement la fiat 500 ou un Mini-Cooper vintage ! xo

    • Ça ne m’intéresse non plus, Eva. Nous sommes de la même! Je veux un Mini Cooper vintage ou rien! Haha. Les bus ici sont pas mal, donc pour l’instant je prends le bus. xo

  • They are cute – and practical. My first car was french, a small Renault 4L, and I loved it! During my adult life with husband and a child a very big source of pleasure has been another french car, a Citroën van wich we bought new and empty and then equipped with a bed, a small kitchen etc. With that car we have travelled around in Europe during many weeks each Summer for 27 years. Mostly in France and of course many many times to Paris. Nowdays, when we are older, we take a flight, but that car gave us so many happy memories…

    • A Citröen van kitted out! That sounds like a dream! Converting a bus and traveling Europe. Sigh. I can imagine how fondly you look back on those times! What a way to see a country, that’s definitely memorable. I’m so jealous! xo

  • Minis are the cutest! I don’t think I could ever own one for an extended time considering they are smaller than small and I have to drive on a highway everyday which is scary enough. I don’t mind driving, but nothing beats public transportation in a city.

    • Yes, for highway travel I could imagine you’d feel every bump in that car! But by contrast, I wouldn’t feel too safe in a giant SUV either! They flip over and roll so easily. I’ll stick to public transit for now :) xo

  • Someone i know who will remain nameless actually managed to flip a mini – which is meant to be nearly impossible due to their low centre of gravity (?)

    How can you not miss the freedom and independence that comes with driving? I have to sit the exam all over again – NY makes it illegal to use a foreign license after 90 days AND i gotta learn it all for the opposite side of the road – eek! But after 2 years, i miss it and it needs to be done…. blah

    • Wowza, I wouldn’t think that would be possible! I hope they were okay!

      I think it’s all about what you’re used to. For me, freedom and independence are not two words I would ever associate with driving. Those terms have to go to being able to take a taxi and not worrying if I drink too much at dinner, or not having to worry about circling for street parking every day, or the excessive payments…etc. etc. Even when I was “driving,” I was behind the wheel maybe once a month! And that’s only because there wasn’t a closer IHOP for a while ;) I’ve never had a moment when a car was an absolute necessity, which I realize isn’t the norm for most people! xo

  • I drive a Nissan Versa hatchback, and when I first bought it (five years ago) all of my colleagues and friends laughed at me for buying such a small car. But I love it! I can fit her anywhere and the mileage is great. Then I went to Europe and laughed because compared to the majority of the cars there, my car is actually on the larger side! I don’t understand all of these SUVs and larger vehicles; unless you have a family of 5+ or you’re towing something on a regular basis, there is simply no need for such things! I’m happy that I don’t rely on my car so much since moving near Philly, I mainly just use it to get to and from work… but even that’s a stretch because in theory I could easily take the train to work. Ultimately though, it’s actually cheaper for me to keep the car around (considering it’s entirely paid off and I’m just paying insurance on it). If I worked closer than 9 miles from home though, you can bet your bottom I’d seriously consider getting rid of that car.

    • I do have to laugh because, like you, I couldn’t get over how much smaller the cars were in France, compared to what we consider “small.” The giant SUVs are so bad for the environment and so bad on gas mileage. People may laugh at tiny cars, but you’re laughing all the way to the bank! ;) We’ve talked about getting a used car just to drive on the random weekend when we need a big grocery order or a trip to IKEA, but honestly, the car share program we use is so much cheaper. I don’t think we pay more than $400 a year for the car rentals we use. xo

  • lovely pics. I don’t drive, but if I would, I’d get one of those fab tiny old cars too :)

    • Samesies ;) xo

  • Right now, I live in the suburbs so I need a car to get anywhere. The dream is to move downtown though so I can be car-free and carefree!

    Sincerely,
    Sabrina

    • I love that car-free and carefree are just one letter apart! ;) xo

  • SWOON! A vintage mini cooper or fiat ismy dream car!

    Side note: what are you going to use for ID if you get carded at a bar? Passport?

    • Haha, yes! I carry my passport with me now if I go out. Which makes me crazy nervous, because I don’t want to lose it this close to my honeymoon. Oy. I just need to renew my license and stop procrastinating! xo

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