- 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) CITROEN 2CV CAR PASSING SACRE-COEUR BASILICA CAR PASSING AND COMING TO A STOP 2CV TOUR GUIDE AND DRIVER, JEAN-REMI GALINON, SAYING (English): "Hi guys, my name is Jean-Remi, I'm a driver with the 2CV Paris Tour. Let's go visit Paris with this beautiful car."/ OPENING CAR DOOR POINT OF VIEW OF VISITOR GOING INTO CAR GALINON ENTERING CAR CAR DRIVING PAST SACRE-COEUR BASILICA (SOUNDBITE) (French) 2CV TOUR GUIDE AND DRIVER, JEAN-REMI GALINON, SAYING: "I love it, I love driving, I love old cars. It's a shared moment that is really interesting as we come to realise that we are really lucky to be French, to live in a city like Paris. It's really enjoyable, and that's thanks to the foreigners." VARIOUS OF CAR DRIVING AROUND TOUR EIFFEL GALINON SAYING (French): "And there it is, the Eiffel tower, the monument that everyone gets excited about" CAR DRIVING PAST (SOUNDBITE)(French) 2CV TOUR GUIDE AND DRIVER, JEAN-REMI GALINON, SAYING: "The Americans are number 1 in terms of our tourists, of course. They want to know everything, they are passionate about Paris, they are in love with Paris, they are in love with France. So, yes, we're suffering the consequences, it's really really hard."
- 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: LVA001CKZ8L6V
- 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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