28 April 2017

Un Coq Citroen Repair Station

When I was living in France, I did a few things--some of them entirely laughable, in retrospect--to make myself feel as if I had "gone native", if you will.

I didn't wear a beret: I soon discovered that, even then (more than three decades ago) only very old men and clochards wore them--or, at least, the kind they sell to tourists. Some farmers, particularly in the central and southwestern parts of the country, still wore the Basque-style beret, which has a larger diameter "crown" than the berets artists and wannabes perched on their crania when they smoked and sipped away their nights in cafes and bars.

Ironically, I wore berets after I returned to the US.  And I continued a few other habits as a way of asserting my Frenchness, or at least my French influences, in the face of the yahoo-ism of the Reagan and Bush I administrations.

While in France, I purchased and wore a few things that were all but unknown in the US at the time.  One was a wool French (Breton) fisherman's sweater.  It was the genuine article, knit from heavy dark navy wool with cream-colored horizontal stripes and buttons on the left shoulder.  Other Gallic accoutrements I acquired and wore included a sweatsuit, bike jersey and shoes from a company called Le Coq Sportif.

Now you can see the tricolore rooster everywhere.  But in those days, you pretty much had to be in France, or perhaps a neighboring country, (Remember:  There was no Amazon or eBay!)  in order to see, let alone wear, that quintessentially French emblem.

Another thing that could mark you as a French person was driving a Citroen.  Renault was still selling cars in the US; so was Peugeot, but their motorized vehicles weren't nearly as ubiquitous as their bicycles.  For a long time, I resolved that if I were to buy a car or van, it would be a Citroen because, well, you couldn't get anything more French than a vehicle with a chevron badge.

Well, Le Coq Sportif and Chevron have joined forces. The occasion is the 70th anniversary of the Type H van.  If you watch old French films, you've seen those boxy mini-trucks driven by farmers and urban delivery couriers.  You still see them in France.

Since both companies have long associations with bicycle racing in France and other countries, it makes sense that their collaboration would produce this:

It's something else I saw for the first time in France:  a mobile bicycle workshop.  

Vive la France!  I just hope they don't elect their own version of Trump.


  1. We've got a couple types of these bike repair trucks in Seattle...but not as classy as this Citroen!

  2. I love those old Citroen corrugated vans, I just have a van derived Peugeot which is just not he same...

  3. Thinking post should have been coq au van...

  4. Brian--You don't have that in Seattle. There's your city's chance to one-up Portland!

    Coline--I love those vans to--and your title!