France: The land of love, beauty, amazing wine, and a grand history. All of these characteristics have been established for centuries. Some stand out more than others, however. For instance, not many are aware of France's impact on motor sports and automotive manufacturing more broadly.
Although France doesn't quite have the same number of brands as the United States or Germany, they still have a few gems among the ruff. These companies have existed for decades; making legendary cars throughout the years. Even though French cars aren't always legal or well-known in the States, they still deserve some praise and recognition for their past accomplishments.
10 Citroën 2CV
In the 1940's, Germany had the Volkswagen Beetle. At around the same time, France had the Citroën 2CV. The 2CV was built for the same purpose as the Beetle as well: An affordable urban commuter.
Back when the 2CV came out, the European government actually taxed individuals based on the horsepower figures for their vehicles. As a result, cars were often very slow. The Citroën 2CV was actually called the "two tax horsepower" since it only had two taxable horses. Regardless, the 2CV was successful. It even lasted until the late '80s.
9 Renault Megane
The Renault Megane is France's answer to the modern 'hot hatch' competition. Since the '70s, automakers have been vying for the best sport hatchback; Often fluctuating back and fourth between brands as the years go on.
The Megane is a long running model in Renault's lineup. Since 1995, the Megane has tried to be both a comfortable daily and a track toy (With varying levels of success each time). Renault also loves RallyX, so the Megane, naturally, found it's place in Rally racing; securing both the British and European Championships.
Now, the Megane hopes to keep up with Ford and Peugeot in the coming years. With the way things look, it appears they may be victorious.
8 Citroën DS
Citroën usually flies under the radar nowadays (At least in the U.S.), but in the '50s Citroën were innovating. In 1955, Citroën released the DS, a luxury vehicle for "executives." To this day, its still a beautiful car with a unique addition: Hydraulic Systems.
Hydraulics weren't uncommon during this time. Most cars had them for steering and brakes, but not many had a hydraulic suspension, transmission, and clutch. With all of the this, the Citroën DS sold like crazy. It's 'high-tech' even managed to save a French President's life at one point.
7 Venturi Coupe 260
As far as unheard of brands go, Venturi is pretty high up on the list. Although they didn't make many models, the few ones they did were pretty good. Especially the Venturi Coupe 260.
The Coupe 260 was not mass-produced, in modern terms. Overall, Venturi made about 188 copies of the 260. Due to this, the 260 is a relatively rare classic sports car. It looks like a classic '90s car too with pop-up headlights, squared edges, and an almost BMW 8-series front end.
6 Peugeot 205 GTi
If you weren't already aware, France has a thing for rally racing. In fact, some of the most successful drivers were either French of Finnish. With this countrywide support, its only natural to see the country's greatest carmakers produce their best rally cars. What followed was the Peugeot 250 GTi.
The 205 GTi had a duel-personality of sorts. One version could be a quiet car for grandmother to take to the grocery store, while the other was a fire-spitting Group A RallyX winner. This meant that Peugeot had made a car that could be enjoyed by everyone. Whether it was over it's looks, speed, or quality, nearly everyone seemed to get behind it.
5 Renault 5 Turbo 2
Once again, France proves their love and devotion to rally racing. The Turbo 2 was Renault's answer to companies like Citroën's and Peugeot's hatchbacks/rally cars. The Renault 5 Turbo 2 put up a good fight too.
It's small 1.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder managed to get the Renault 5 up to nearly 200 horsepower. The 5 Turbo 2 was also made with rally racing in mind specifically, since each version was made with almost the same specs. With this, Renault had a true champion: WRC Victories in Spain, Portugal, France, and more.
4 Bugatti Type 51
For anyone familiar with Jay Leno, you probably know about his vast car collection. He owns several beauties, but did you know he owns a Bugatti Type 51? Compared to the renowned Type 35, the following Type 51 isn't as prominent. Nonetheless, it is a valuable successor to such a legendary race car.
What the Bugatti Type 51 had the the Type 35 didn't was simple: Twin overhead camshafts. This change helped the Type 51 to win a lot during its time on track. The Type 51 a perfect car to showcase motorsports from that time period. Its just a shame that you have to be as rich as Mr. Leno to afford one.
3 Renault Alpine A110
The Alpine A110 was one of the most unique French cars ever produced. Built years after World War Two, the two-door Alpine was different than the usual car. It's biggest distinction was the A110's mid-engine setup.
The Alpine A110 had multiple models branch off of it's original design, however, none were as widely known as the A110. It succeeded in almost every department it participated in, whether it be racing or regular cars, the Alpine did it. Surprisingly, Renault decided to bring back the Alpine A110 in 2017 with a brand new version. Thankfully, it still resembles the classic design. However, there's no word on if Renault will be brave enough to enter it into competition like it's predecessor.
2 Bugatti Veyron 16.4
If you're a true automotive enthusiast, you probably don't need the Veyron to be explained. Regardless, its worth mentioning. Especially since Bugatti has, one again, become one of the fastest and most luxurious carmakers on the planet.
The Bugatti Veyron destroyed everyone's preconceived notions of speed in 2006 with their record-breaking top speed of around 250 miles-per-hour. Along with it's eye-watering pace, the Veyron is, arguably, the peak of automotive luxury. At least, it should be, since anybody who wants one will have to pay upwards of a million dollars.
1 Bugatti Type 57CS Atlantic
Not much can compare to the likes of the Ferrari 250 GTO. Primarily in regards to both history and cost. Nevertheless, there are still a few that can contend; one being the Bugatti Type 57CS Atlantic.
In terms of cost, the Type 57CS Atlantic now costs more than $40 million. Not as much as the 250 GTO, but still ridiculous. Like the 250, though, the Type 57CS Atlantic is a work of art on wheels. The true epitome of engineering, design, and hand-built masterpieces. No wonder it costs so much money. You would have to be absolutely mad to turn down such a car if you had the funds to do so.