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Peking to Paris

During my trip to Paris in October, I came upon an event near my hotel that was quite interesting. My husband had told me about this historical car race that first began in 1907 when the French newspaper, Le Matin published the following challenge:

“What needs to be proved today is that as long as a man has a car, he can do anything and go anywhere. Is there anyone who will undertake to travel this summer from Peking to Paris by automobile?”

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But it wasn’t until I actually was standing on the corner of Rue de Castiglione and Rue Saint-Honoré watching actual participants finishing this year’s race and celebrating with very large magnums of champagne in the Place Vendôme was my interest peaked!

The history of this race is fascinating and you can read about on Wikipedia (of course!)  There is even a website dedicated to the history with photos in videos. The conditions that the drivers were subjected to in the first years were crazy, all for bragging rights and a bottle of champagne.

What I find fascinating is the tenacity of man. The automobile had not even been in existence for ten years, the American West was still wild, and the world was still very small for all intents and purposes, yet five teams of daring Europeans took up the challenge to drive cars from Peking (now Beijing) to Paris. Amazing!

I think that is something I would have loved to see! I can tell you there were many more than five contestants coming through the streets of Paris this past October and the party that took place at the Place Vendôme was a doozie.

I couldn’t tell if everyone who finished received a magnum of champagne or not, there certainly seemed like a large number of bottles around. I guess finishing let alone making it back with your car in one piece is certainly something to celebrate!

Here are some photos I took of the cars.

Preparing for the arrivals:

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Arriving on the Rue Saint-Honoré:

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This guy won’t lose his map of the route!

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The cars all have special plates:

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Lining up in Place Vendôme:

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They do get dirty!

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One for a cause:

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The boy can dream:

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That’s it! Looks like a fun experience for avid travelers and adventurers!

How about you? Would you ever do a trip like that?

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