It’s August 1984 and we’re in the beautiful harbour town of Paimpol in the delightful region of Brittany in France. The relative peace of this region seems like a million miles away from Olympics in Los Angeles, which are hogging the world’s media and making superstars of some of the USA’s finest athletes. As well as something of an anti-hero of our adopted long-distance hope, South African barefoot runner, Zola Budd.
Here, life takes its own pace – a tabac coffee and croissant for breakfast followed by a stroll in the morning, and a languid seafood lunch harbourside. For Brits lucky enough to be enjoying a driving holiday in this region, the relaxed pace of life and spacious roads feel like a million miles away from Blighty, while car enthusiasts can enjoy what looks like a very different car parc to the one that they enjoy back home. Grabbing a gite holiday and taking the Portsmouth-Saint Malo Brittany Ferry as part of the package is still quite unusual for us Brits, but the French holiday is gaining popularity fast as families look for a different experience to more traditional getaways.
You’ll just about pick up a crackling Radio 4 long wave here, otherwise you’re going to have to immerse yourself in French radio or, if your gite has one, an eyeful of TV broadcast in glorious SECAM. There isn’t an equivalent to Top Of The Pops, but if you tune into TF1, the programme HIP HOP will sate your musical needs. You’ll be missing out on some crackers in the UK charts, though – Careless Whisper by George Michael is at number one, holding off a strong challenge from Black Lace’s Agadoo. It’ll soon be replaced by Stevie Wonder’s I Just Called To Say I Love You from the Gene Wilder film, Woman In Red.
So, tell us about the cars
As you can imagine, the car selection is wildly different from what you’d expect to see in 1984 Britain, and that’s what made travelling overseas such a pleasure for car enthusiasts back then. Right at the front, we have a Ford Granada Mk2, next to a spotlighted Renault 4, which is no doubt wearing a red A plate. Then we have a late-1970s Mazda 929 and Renault 18 Turbo boxed in by a bright red Opel Ascona B in what looks like SR trim.
There’s a lovely Volkswagen Golf Mk1 alongside an Autobianchi A112 (above), which are boxed in behind a double-parked Renault 14, while a Simca 1100, Mini van, Mazda 323 (was there a local dealer nearby?), Renault 5 and Peugeot 305 complete the row. In the line nearest the shops, we have a Peugeot 504 and Citroën Visa. Outside the newsagents, we have another 504, Fiat 127, Simca 1100, Peugeot 404, yet another 504, Renault 12 and another Mazda 323.
Further along we have a Peugeot 204, Volkswagen Beetle, another 204, a family getting into a Renault 5, a BMW 3 Series, a Renault 6 and, topping off that delicious selection, is a wonderful beige Renault 14. What a selection!
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