Blog: Simon WarburtonParisian walkways

Simon Warburton | 1 October 2010

Day one of the Paris Motor Show has just passed in a blur of press conferences, briefings, interviews and of course the ever-present thump of extraordinary loud music set to vast light shows.

The day didn't start quite that brightly though as I trudged through pouring rain in the dark - to be nearly mown down by an irate Parisian - to Opel/Vauxhall's extraordinarily early press conference.

Opel boss CEO Nick Reilly was first on parade - he would later wonder if Renault at its home show was ever obliged to start in the middle of the night - and seemed hugely fluent until I realised he was speaking from three of the largest autocues hung behind me I have ever seen.

A succession of presentations later - with the French in Hall 1 - in much the way Air France occupies the best Terminal at Charles de Gaulle - each competing to provide the most spectacular son et lumiere. Citroen even had six-times world rally champion Sebastien Loeb beamed in live from his latest race.

These behemoths of stands were perhaps a concrete indication of the long, slow emergence into the post-recession light - although even these were dwarfed by Ford's gargantuan stand - if that's the right word - that seemed to take up half a hall.

Press conferences aside, I decided to try the Show press office - despite dire warnings from my colleagues that the horrors inside were not worth even bothering with.

I should have listened. On entering, it was so dark I thought there had been a power cut before I made out dark shapes in the shadows that appeared to constitute the world's press.

Crammed together like battery hens, the scribes were attempting to file copy back home with varying degrees of success - against a cacophony of noise - and unbelievable temperature. I beat a hasty retreat.

I found refugee on the Chevrolet stand - and three cheers for them for providing somewhere decent to work complete with victuals and free Wi-Fi.

Addendum: I'm writing this outside on a Paris cafe terrace - I say terrace - it's the pavement by a noisy road - and I can say I have seen a Frenchman dressed entirely in black topped off with a beret.

If that wasn't good enough, I've also witnessed that favorite Parisian pastime - parking - which traditionally involves shoving the car behind with your bumpers until it makes the required space. And they're very good at it. 


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