When I started travelling alone, French cars were enthralling. They were quirky-looking with ingenious technology. And they had an attachment to motor-sport. Eighteen years old, hitch-hiking back from Florence, I got stuck in a field near Strasbourg. Sitting in the sun dopily looking at rolling green Alsatian hills for most of a day, I saw and will never forget a Renault R8 Gordini driven hard on a lonely road, punctuating my boredom. All crackling exhaust, French racing bleu with two longitudinal white stripes and hilarious negative camber rear suspension.
Later on that same trip I eventually arrived in Paris. Being intellectually ambitious, I had my pockets stuffed with Livre de Poche editions of Sartre and I went, my rucksack and I, straight to the vast Renault and Citroen showrooms on the Champs-Elysee to confirm my feelings about the superiority of French culture. The showrooms seemed intoxicatingly sophisticated, places of worship for a more advanced civilization. Does anybody now remember the Renault Fuego ? I saw one spot-lit on a plinth in the first arrondissement of Paris. It was bright green, like a tree frog.