Complete with French plates and such. Cool read. Learn something new everyday...
Sixteen miles off the coast of Newfoundland and just 800 miles from Boston lie the tiny islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon, the last vestiges of the colonial empire of New France. Though these islands are 3,000 miles from Paris, they're French in every way. Residents celebrate Bastille Day, vote in French elections and pay for everything in Euros.
And, of course, drive French cars. That makes the Territorial Collectivity of St. Pierre and Miquelon, which has just 70 miles of paved road, the only place north of the Rio Grande River where you can still find Peugeot and Renault dealers.
"There are always new French cars on the islands," Marc Cormier of St-Pierre-et-Miquelon.com told Wired.com. "One of the reasons being the state and government offices only buy French cars."
That doesn't mean residents of the island can only buy French cars. Four dealerships offer everything from Hondas and Hyundais to Fords and Chryslers. General Motors products are well represented, and there's even an Opel outpost.
That's not a bad selection considering there are just 6,000 people there. If you visit – and the island is but a ferry ride away from Newfoundland – feel free to leave the TomTom at home. The locals are happy to give directions, but they tend to use the homes of their friends and relatives as reference points. And be prepared to take some ribbing if you're a lousy driver. Or seaman.
"Locals are quicker to mock your driving and boating abilities than your personal life or shortcomings," Cormier said.
Just as the import-versus-domestic war rages in the United States, a similar dynamic is in play on St. Pierre and Miquelon.
"French cars are more popular with established families, or citizens from France who are currently working locally," Cormier told Wired.com. "Sometimes, its really just personal preference, period."
Luckily, most garages are just as good at popping the hood of a Peugeot as they are fixing a Ford. "All local garages are polyvalent in the sense they can work with any type of vehicle, European or American. Parts are aplenty and people sometimes buy two models of a second hand car, one for parts."
Those sales add up to more than fifty new cars a year for Pannier Frères Renault, the marque's only dealer north of Mexico and the Caribbean. Our French is abysmal, but an employee of the dealership was patient enough to tell us business is brisk, thank you very much.
"We have been an importer for over 60 years and we are proud to represent Renault in North America," Jean-Marc Pannier told us. "We do not encounter difficulties in selling Renault in Saint Pierre and Miquelon."
Hmmm. Wonder if we could bring back a RenaultSport Clio 197…
Anyone have any more pics of this area WITH the forbidden cars?