About Célestine and Claudette

On all of our tours we use classic 1950's Citroën Traction Avant cars.

The Citroën Traction Avant (front wheel drive) was first built in 1934, and continued to be built until 1957 as a car for the professional classes: doctors, bankers, solicitors and the like. For its time it was a quite expensive car, but designed for mass production rather than handbuilt cars such as Bugatti, Delahaye or Delage. Thus the interior, whilst spacious and comfortable, uses practical and durable materials: this was a car for everyday use.

The car was a technical masterpiece, and introduced three innovations to the mass produced market: independant suspension on all four wheels, front wheel drive, and unitary (or unbody) construction. This allowed Citroën to build a lower, lighter car, with improved handling and ride. It also cost the company so much in research and development that it became bankrupt, finally being bought by the Michelin Tyre company.

Our cars are from the 1950's: Celestine was built in 1953 and Claudette in 1956. Both are the 11B variant of the car, the large 4 cylinder saloon capable of carrying 5 adults. By the time they were built the Traction Avant was still more expensive than many of its rivals, but seen as a large family car for the middle classes. We meet local people everyday who tell us about their first car, or that the car they learned to drive was a Traction Avant. We often return to the cars to find they are being photographed, or a crowd has gathered around them.

Although both cars have been fully restored they are not showcar: we keep our cars are as close as practical to their original configuration to give as authentic as possible French 1950's road trip ambience.