20140714_171854 The Ottawa Citroën Club had the honour to be asked to display three 2CVs at the French Embassy during the celebrations of the Fête Nationale (Bastille Day). New member Claude F made the arrangements after he was contacted by the Embassy in May. When the big day arrived, members Jim McC, Isabelle R, and Bob and Claudine McL presented their polished treasures to the gates of the Embassy, on Ottawa’s historic Sussex Drive. Embassy staff directed us to where they wanted the cars displayed, while they continued their preparations for the huge garden party hosted by the French Ambassador, Monsieur Philippe Zeller.

Around 4:30 in the afternoon, guests began arriving. As befits an event of this level, guests included diplomats from many countries, as well as representatives from Canadian government agencies. Invitations had also been extended to a selection of French and Canadian citizens from everyday life. As usual, the cars elicited fond smiles from many of the guests, as they presented their credentials to the staff from the Embassy. After being granted admission, some people immediately came over to admire the cars, or to share stories. Of course, there were more important matters to attend to, so everyone proceeded to the garden. After the playing of O Canada and the Marseillaise, the ambassador greeted the guests with a speech that reminded one and all of the long history that connects France and Canada. He alluded to the distant past, as well as focusing on the role that Canada played in liberating France during the last world war. Finally, he reminded everyone how fragile is the peace that we currently enjoy, and how important it is to remain vigilant. The Embassy had prepared a wonderful demonstration of the culinary prowess for which France is so famous. The guests were offered finely prepared food, a variety of wines and liqueurs (including such renowned names as Richard and Cointreau), and finally a sumptuous selection of desserts. Sitting in the warm evening sun, enjoying such treats, who could ask for a finer experience? Guests were also invited into the Embassy building to tour “La Galerie F“, a display of famous French products, reminding us of the influence that France has had on commerce over the course of many centuries, but especially since 1945. Once they had enjoyed all that was on offer, people toured the grounds and of course visited the 2CVs that the club had presented. As is so often the case, I had people sharing stories from so many different countries. The 2CV truly is a Citizen of the World! One of the nicest parts of the evening was watching people’s faces light up when I would ask them if they wanted to sit in the car. For some, it was a first exposure to the marvel that is the 2CV; for others it was a nostalgic trip back in time. At the end of the evening, as they were bidding adieu to the guests, a group of Embassy staff members collected around the cars and shared stories from home. That was a wonderful moment, that brought to a close a fabulous experience. The club would like to thank Monsieur l’Ambassadeur et Madame ZELLER, Attaché Maxime CORDIER, and Conseiller Stéphane SCHORDERET for their hospitality.

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