- Title: Paris iconic 2CV drivers hit hard, miss American tourists in COVID-19 lockdown
- Date: 1st July 2020
- Summary: PARIS, FRANCE (RECENT - JUNE 26, 2020) (REUTERS) GALINON DRIVING, POINTING TO BUILDINGS VARIOUS OF 2CV CAR DRIVING PAST HISTORIC CAFE DE FLORE WHERE WRITERS SUCH AS ERNEST HEMINGWAY AND JEAN-PAUL SARTRE WERE KNOWN PATRONS VAROUS OF 2CV SIDEVIEW MIRROR (SOUNDBITE) (French) 2CV TOUR GUIDE AND DRIVER, JEAN-REMI GALINON, SPEAKING ABOUT THE CONFINEMENT AND COVID-19 PERIOD, SAYING: "It was just surreal, for plenty of reasons. The first, because we were confined, and March, April, May, those were important periods for us in the tourism industry, until June. July is a bit quiet. And especially as there was extremely good weather in Paris, it was a double punishment for us, so it was very hard." GALINON DRIVING GALINON APPROACHING SACRE COEUR BASILICA (SOUNDBITE) (French) 2CV TOUR GUIDE AND DRIVER, JEAN-REMI GALINON, SAYING: "It's hard, it's sad, because Paris without tourists, is not really Paris, it must be said." VARIOUS OF VISITORS ON STEPS AND BALCONY OF SACRE-COEUR BASILICA (SOUNDBITE) (French) 2CV TOUR GUIDE AND DRIVER, JEAN-REMI GALINON, SAYING: "I hope that tourists, French or not French, can come back, anyone who can come, and want to discover Paris in a 2CV, are in any case welcome at 2CV Paris Tour." HALF OF COMPANY'S 2CV FLEET DRIVING VARIOUS OF 2CV CARS DRIVING NEAR EIFFEL TOWER 2CV CARS PARKED PARIS, FRANCE (RECENT - JUNE 27, 2020) (REUTERS) TOUR BOAT VARIOUS OF TOURISTS, MOST OF THEM FRENCH NIGERIAN WHO LIVES IN PARIS, ISSA AWAL, SPEAKING WITH FRIEND (SOUNDBITE) (English) NIGERIAN WHO LIVES IN PARIS, ISSA AWAL, SAYING: "Well, I mean, it's great in some ways because it gives you the time to enjoy more, to have more space. It's not too crowded, so that is great, but also, at the same time, it's also great to have a lot of tourists, because you have a lot of culture." TOURISTS, SOME MASKED WOMEN ON SMALL BOAT ON RIVER SEINE TOURISTS ON BOAT TOUR (SOUNDBITE) (French) PARIS CANAL TOURS CRUISE GUIDE, NICOLAS MUNKA, SAYING: "We're hoping that the tourist mumbers will go up gradually and from July 10, we will re-open even more. But we're already very happy to be able to welcome people and tourists who are coming to discover Paris. MUNKA SPEAKING EMPTY BOAT PARIS, FRANCE (RECENT - JUNE 25, 2020) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF EIFFEL TOWER
- Embargoed: 15th July 2020 13:25
- Keywords: 2CV Paris classic car tour tourism vintage car
- Location: PARIS, FRANCE
- City: PARIS, FRANCE
- Country: France
- Reuters ID: LVA003CKZ8L6V
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: There's nothing Jean-Remi Galinon enjoys more than bouncing along the cobbled streets of Paris in his vintage Citroen 2CV, showing off his city to foreign tourists, usually Americans. But the coronavirus is keeping them away, and Galinon out of work.
Since mid-March he's only given one tour. The European-Union is from Wednesday tentatively opening up its borders to a select group of countries beyond its borders. But the United States, where COVID-19 cases are spiralling higher, is not on the list.
"The Americans are our No. 1 tourists, for sure," Galinon said, driving along one cafe-lined boulevard, sunglasses on and the canvas roof rolled back.
"They are in love with Paris, they're in love with France. We're suffering the consequences (of the travel ban)."
Paris is the world's second most visited city in the world after Bangkok, famed for the Eiffel Tower and Louvre museum, as well as its luxury boutiques and haute cuisine. But the coronavirus crisis has sent the tourism industry into a tailspin.
"It was just surreal," Galinon said of the lockdown. "March, April, May are an important period for us. And even more so as the weather was beautiful in Paris, so it was a double punishment."
Borders within the EU's Schengen area have reopened, while the "safe list" of 14 countries from which the bloc will allow non-essential travel - including Australia, Canada and Japan - marks the next step in a tentative easing of restrictions.
China has also been provisionally approved, although travel would only open up if Beijing reciprocates.
ParisCanal boat tours, which takes visitors on a cruise along the Seine river, welcomed about 50 percent of their usual numbers on their first weekend back in business. Most of their clients were French, with about 10 percent of them from Europe.
While locals were seen enjoying the fresh air and space on the waters, others were missing the presence of tourists.
"There's more space and it's not too crowded, so that is great, but also, at the same time, it's also great to have a lot of tourists, because you have a lot of culture," said Nigerian Issa Awal, who lives in Paris.
Galinon's boss, Marc Vernhet, relied on state aid to keep the business afloat during the lockdown. Another six months of slow business - with only one booking per driver since confinement - and Paris 2CV may go under, he added.
"It's sad, because Paris without tourists, is not really Paris," Galinon said.
(Production: Yiming Woo)
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