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One year ago I published a Photo Report from my visit of the Nice hinterland in France, and my main learning was that Dacia was the king of the countryside. This year I returned to this area, but decided to visit more remote villages, to see whether last year’s observations were still valid and whether I could find more interesting particularities in the car landscape of a very quiet part of France. For those of you who know the area, my day-trip took me to places like Gréolières, Roquesteron, Coursegoules and Gourdon, even crossing a river called Le Loup (The Wolf)… Love it!
The answer is yes: Dacia models are even more present in the countryside than they were last year, more diverse and absolutely everywhere. It’s simple: there was at least one Dacia in every single tiny village I crossed. And some places had no more than a dozen visible vehicles, so you can measure the achievement of a brand that was unknown to French consumers only 7 years ago… The Duster is omnipresent, but the new Sandero is catching up, and you can clearly tell the new generation has been lingering inside the French Top 10 for the best part of this year. I also saw a couple of Lodgy but no Dokker, which is a mystery I touch on here.
Enough about Dacia. What were the other particularities of the area? Something that became really clear the tinier the villages became is the presence of many Mitsubishi Pajero and Lada Niva straight from the eighties! These two models used to rule the 4WD sales charts in France at the time but it was very interesting to see them all still in activity, the last remnants of a period now well forgotten in France. It’s also fascinating to see that many Mitsubishis grouped together (there were also a lot of 1990s L200 pick-ups), a brand much less popular nowadays here.
As far as new models are concerned, like last year the Renault Kangoo is fighting Dacia for countryside supremacy. Around 1 in every 4 vehicles in each village I passed was a Kangoo, and it helped that the nameplate has now been around for over 15 years, because all generations were represented. One explanation for this frequency may also be the prevalence of small businesses like restaurants and artisanal activities in the area, which require that type of LCV.
I also noticed a significant amount of new generation Citroen C4, C3 Picasso and VW Polo, while the C3 II, in market for a solid 4 years now, has well and truly blended into the French car landscape. It has already supplanted the first generation in spite of the latter’s particularly long 8 year-career. Finally, possibly the most striking element was the abundance of Peugeot 208 and the absence of Renault Clio IV, contrary to what can be seen on the Coast (aka the French Riviera)…
Enough of the countryside, what about on the Coast?
Which brings me nicely to the 2nd part of this regional visit: the Coast, more precisely Cannes. I wanted to share with you two very different sides of the French car landscape, none of them truly representative of the market as a whole but with fascinating particularities… Actually, one similarity first. Cannes and its hinterland agree on one point: they love Dacia! I even saw a Duster parked in front of the Palais des Festivals, home of the world famous Film Festival…
More new models on the Coast, with the Peugeot 208/Renault Clio IV duel for the #1 spot there for all to see, both models already an integral part of the landscape with already many Clio IV station wagons. A surprising amount of Peugeot 2008 as well, but not as many Renault Captur, which goes against their rankings so far. I noticed a couple of new generation Citroen C4 Picasso which confirms its 8th position in August.
Probably slightly biased by the proximity of Italy (the same way the Ventimiglia car landscape was biased towards the French), a surprising prevalence of the new Fiat 500L can be noticed in Cannes. Seemingly designed specifically for this market, the new gen Mercedes A-Class, Audi Q5, VW Tiguan and Nissan Juke are over-represented here as well, I even saw two new gen Range Rovers and a new gen Mercedes S-Class in front of the Carlton hotel…
Last year’s photo report: France August 2012: Dacia, King of the countryside
Full Photo Report below! Now with August Top 60 best-sellers overall.