For years, Peugeot, Citroen and Renault have delivered cars that simply exude chicness and that certain je ne sais quoi.
Armed with a £5k budget, how much French chic can you get for your money. Move aside Thierry Henry and Dita Von Teese…
The Renault Clio is quite simply the chic supermini. Ever since Nicole sneaked off when her Papa was busy snoozing, the French hatchback has become ingrained in British popular culture. It’s consistently the best selling car in France, too.
The current Clio feels too grown up, but it’s out of our price range anyway. Instead, take your pick of the huge supply of third generation Clios on the market.
Some would argue that the Peugeot 205 is the most perfect small car ever produced and the fact that over five million were produced is perhaps testament to this. It’s possible to pick up a useable 205 for a few hundred quid, but that’s hardly going to register on the chic scale.
Instead, opt for the wonderfully handsome 205 Cabriolet or the 205 GTi, widely considered to be the best hot hatch of all time. Effortlessly cool and depreciation-free.
The ultimate French car? Perhaps, although the Renault 4 may have something to say about that. But surely the 2CV manages to eclipse the 4 when it comes to chicness?
A ready supply of parts and a strong network of independent specialists ensures that 2CV ownership can be rewarding and worry-free. Everybody needs to drive the ‘tin snail’ at some point in their lives.
Peugeot 206 CC
Once upon a time, the Peugeot 206 CC was the must-have car for fashion-conscious buyers. Launched in 2002, the coupe-cabriolet remains a pretty little thing.
Watch for problems with the troublesome roof mechanism and check the electrics carefully. There’s a huge supply of cars on the market, so choose one that’s been loved.
Peugeot 306 Cabriolet
Few cars from the mid-90s have aged as well as the Pininfarina-designed Peugeot 306 Cabriolet. It simply oozes French charm and sophistication.
Prices start from £500, but pay more and buy from an owner who has enjoyed many years of topless motoring in their Pug.
Citroen C3 Pluriel
Citroen’s car for all seasons, which was marketed as five cars in one – a hatchback, a saloon, a semi-convertible, a convertible and a roadster. Sadly the process involved with the transformation was quite a faff. And there was nowhere to store the side rails once the roof was removed.
Arguably better suited to a life in the south of France than Southampton, the C3 Pluriel wasn’t especially well-built either. But it does has a certain amount of chic appeal. Doesn’t it?
Ah, the Renault Avantime. So cutting edge was the design, that over a decade since production stopped, it still looks cutting edge today. In truth, nobody really ‘got’ the Avantime – a four-seat MPV was seen as being too radical and left-field, even for a French manufacturer.
Today it lies on the cusp of classic status and with less than 300 left on the road, you’ll enjoy a slice of chic rarity. C’est magnifique!
Remember the Renault Wind? It wasn’t around for long before Renault pulled it from sale in the UK. A case of gone with the Wind?
The coupe-cabriolet looks great and comes complete with a solid roof that folds away in just 12 seconds. Different, French and attractive – three reasons why it makes our list.
Peugeot 207 CC
Fancy something a little newer than the 206 CC, then the Peugeot 207 CC is for you. You’ll pay more for the privilege, but the 207 CC improves on its predecessor in every way possible.
The only fly in the ointment is the fact that Christopher Biggins owned one…
Quite literally a massive departure from the other cars on this list, how about the full French presidential presence of the Citroen C6? A big car can be chic, especially if it’s French.
The luxury C6 is just creeping below the £5k mark. Go on, you know you want to. Who needs the reassurance of a German car anyway?