Porsche - The skies above Paris

The skies above Paris


A Boxster perspective on a grand landmark: The Eiffel Tower stands at 324 meters. 
Postcard shots are easier to find in this city than parking spots.

You couldn’t wish for a better seat in the house than a Boxster if you’re not just concentrating on traffic in the French capital, but also want to look up at the sky now and then.

Stephanie grumbled a little before the trip. “Nothing against Paris,” she said. “But you have such a great convertible—why don’t you drive to the Côte d’Azur with me?” To which I responded, “Have you forgotten Lucy Jordan? The ballad Marianne Faithfull sings about a woman who dreams of driving through Paris in a sports car?” Stephanie considers this for a second, and then says, “Well, alright.”

I retract the top in the Bois de Boulogne park. Venerable trees line both sides of the road. The branches build a shady roof above us as the Carmine Red Boxster GTS rolls through the green tunnel. We overtake a group of cyclists training for a race in the enormous park. Rowboats drift on a pond. No top and no windows separate us from life in this city. The fragrance of white elderberry blossoms wafts through the air. We will be spending a lot of time looking up.

The outside temperature display reads 30 degrees Celsius. The Arc de Triomphe comes into sight, and we drive up to this landmark. It exemplifies the scale in which Paris thinks—preferably very large. Between the two pylons of the monumental arc, an enormous tri-colored flag blows in the wind. We enter the roundabout, which itself has large dimensions, and hear the voice from the Porsche Communication Management system say, “Take the seventh exit.” Streets branch off the roundabout like rays from a star, but its center is marked by chaos. There are no discernible lanes for orientation. Everyone seems to be maneuvering as they see fit.

And the Parisians have apparently agreed that it would not be sporting to use their turn signals. A tour bus wants to exit the roundabout. It cuts in and builds a diagonal wall in front of our low sports car. A bicycle rickshaw with two tourists on its backseat struggles through the throng. We succeed in exiting onto the Champs-Élysées without a mishap and feel the paving stones of this magnificent boulevard under our taut sports suspension. Like the final stretch of the Tour de France.


Slightly off-color, slightly crazy: The Moulin Rouge theater at the foot of Montmartre.


Driving calmly in Parisian traffic is simply a matter of practice. Perhaps not everything, but a lot, revolves around the Arc de Triomphe at Place Charles-de-Gaulle.

Before starting our tour of the city, I had carefully warned my companion about traffic conditions in Paris. When the mighty opera house appears in front of us against the backdrop of the blue sky, she remarks, “You were right—this is no festival of speed.” Yet she quickly discovers what a Boxster with an open top has to offer when driven slowly. She leans back and relaxes into the soft black leather, gazing up to let her eyes wander and discover new details of the city every block of the way.

The extraordinary Beaux Arts architecture of the old palaces on the Champs-Élysées, the caryatids, and the ornaments cut in stone. Facades like vertical landscapes. The sun sparkles on its beauty. We pass a balcony covered with ivy, and a time-honored Art Nouveau cinema. Because we are driving without a top, the city presents itself as if in a 3-D film. Two horseshoes suddenly appear above the sunshield. They belong to the equestrian statue of Louis XIV.

Shortly after the Moulin Rouge we hear a rumbling directly overhead and look up again: Ah, it’s the Métro, which has surfaced from underground and is rattling along the elevated platform. It is supported by sturdy columns whose cast-iron ornaments recall the elements of Greek temples. Finally there is a gap in the traffic, which we seize with an impressive six-cylinder roar amplified by the wall of buildings. The power of the mid-mounted engine helps us to break free. Traffic flows chaotically through the streets of this cosmopolitan city, but the chaos too has its charm. Everyone is looking for a way to move forward. Astonishingly, horns are seldom heard. Nobody stops at a pedestrian crossing where a father waits with two children, the larger one on a bicycle and the smaller one with a kickboard. As if by magic, however, they suddenly make it to the other side.

We hear a voice behind us: “Monsieur, un petit peu.” In the rearview mirror we see a woman on a large motorcycle. She motions that the Boxster should move a little to the right. We oblige. She drives into the gap, but only up to the outside mirror. Her handlebars won’t fit past it. She looks down, flashes a charming smile under her violet helmet, and says, “Merci quand même!” (Thank you anyway!) We can hear her because the automatic start-stop function has turned off our engine. In the middle of the city we even hear a pigeon flapping its wings, making its way through the skies above Paris. We lean our heads back and follow its flight for a moment. Later our eyes alight on the aerial anchor of the Eiffel Tower.

A group of schoolchildren is out walking through the Jardin du Luxembourg. Two boys pull out their cell phones and take pictures of the red Porsche. One sticks up his thumb in appreciation. As we pass by the corner bistro with its sidewalk tables, we can see what its patrons have on their plates. A fish shop to the right, a cheese store to the left. We even find a parking spot in an alleyway in Montmartre. Visitors from around the world are climbing the hill. A hawker sells selfie sticks, a café promotes itself with Van Gogh, who apparently painted here. On the broad steps of Sacré Cœur Basilica, we can look out at the city above the crowd of tourists. The view is breathtaking. All of Paris lies at our feet, a grand landscape of rooftops, with world-famous towers rising above them. White clouds congregate above the Cathedral of Notre Dame. They look as if they were painted by an Impressionist.

At some point in the evening we will need to put up the top on the Boxster. But not yet. We drive down Montmartre on a curvy lane. Stephanie is set upon going to the Louvre. The warm wind blows in her blond hair. She touches my arm tenderly and says, “It couldn’t be any more exciting on the Côte d’Azur!”

By Johannes Schweikle
Photos by Steffen Jahn

What to do in Paris


Place Charles-de-Gaulle, Paris, France, Aerial view, © Google Inc.

Top shot


The Avenue des Champs-Élysées is the epitome of a resplendent boulevard, 70 meters wide and 1,910 meters long, connecting Place de la Concorde in the east with Place Charles-de-Gaulle and the Arc de Triomphe in the west.


The contemporary art exhibitions on the top floor of the Louis Vuitton building (101, Avenue des Champs-Élysées) are something special. They are free, while a side entrance takes you to Espace Louis Vuitton.


If you fly to Paris for a brief shopping trip, you’ll find all of the major (luxury) brands concentrated on the Champs-Élysées, with the addition in recent years of worldwide retail chains.