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Cars in France

Why does it seem like there are so many more interesting, fun-to-drive and environmentally conscious vehicles in Europe than in the States? (The latter supposedly being the world’s largest marketplace…) Below is a photo gallery of some cars spotted during my trip to France.

While lugging my bike box to L'Hotel de l'Alma in the 7th arrondissement in Paris, I encountered a New Mini.  There were also many of the "old" (original) Minis, including some with airbags!
Environmentally-conscious, space-efficient hatchbacks are big in Europe.  Here is a Smart vehicle (in yellow/green), followed by a Renault Clio (I think?), a Fiat Punto (in red), a motorcycle, and a Peugeot 206 in the 7th arrondissement in Paris.
The Oddest Looking Award generally goes to the older Citroens, but here's a Renault giving Citroen a run for its money!  Hats off to Renault for having guts at least...
Californian in Versailles: I thought it was funny to see this Twingo with a "Chico State" sticker on its rear window!
Another Californian in Versailles: this Grand Caravan still had Californian Tahoe plates on it!!  So apparently one can import Californian vehicles fairly readily into France?  In the background is the only Toyota Celica I saw in France, and the Franprix was my supermarche of choice in Versailles.
On the Champs Elysees, Citroen had a showroom, including a vehicle that looked like their answer to the VW Beetle.
Cutest Car Award certainly goes to Renault's city car, the Twingo.  The Twingo is something of a national treasure, and is extremely popular in France.  With it's 1.2L engine, it easily gets 42-55 MPG, and costs only ~US$12,000.  If only the Geo Metro was styled like this, maybe it would have been more popular...
The Fiat Barchetta is a fetching Italian roadster that, alas, is front-wheel-drive but is very pretty.
In front of L'Chateau d'Versailles, MG Rover was sponsoring a bicycle race!  Here's an MGF, one of the official race vehicles.
I was sad to see that MG is now resorting to rebadging Rover station wagons in order to expand their product line!
Most Elegant Vehicle award goes to Alfa Romeo... like all of them.  Here's a 4-door sedan cleverly styled like a coupe.
Renault's Megane II Cabriolet was very attractive.  Renault uses the Megane name on an extremely broad range of models!
Renault had a really cool "cars and lights" exhibit, just down the street from Toyota and across the street from Mercedes on the Champs Elysees.
In Peugeot's Champs Elysees showroom was dedicated to its Pininfarina-styled cars.  This particularly Peugeot looked just like a lengthened Fiat Spider, which is not too surprising considering Pininfarina penned that too!
The Peugeot 206CC is a nifty hardtop-retracting convertible. Too bad we don't get any of these beautiful, personality-laden cars in the states! (From the peugeot.com website.)
Prettiest Hatchback Award goes to Peugeot's line of 106, 206, and 307 vehicles.  This is a 206 RC.  (From the peugeot.com website.)
Alfa's 5-door hatchback... what can I say except "elegant"?  "Beauty is not enough" is Alfa's motto.  (From the alfaromeo.com website.)