We glide through the streets, flitting between two of these different worlds: the Place de la Bastille, shrine to the revolution and still the rallying point for angry protestors, and the Place Vendôme, home to palaces and jewellers, beautiful but reserved, slightly cold and starchy, harking back to the days of empire.
It’s just six minutes between these two worlds; separating them are Rue Saint Antoine, Rue de Rivoli and Rue de Castiglione. The latter switches suddenly on to a vast cobbled parquet, smooth as a dance floor. Here, you’re sorely tempted to start waltzing the car around the Vendôme column at the centre of the square.
And then you’re upon it. La Tour Eiffel. Everybody knows its familiar outline, but the sheer scale of it still takes you by surprise. From the Bir-Hakeim bridge, itself made of riveted iron, the Eiffel Tower seems the perfect size, in harmony with its surroundings.
As much as we’d like to stay and admire, there’s Paris’ other famed man-made structure to sample: the Périphérique Parisien. There’s not a great deal of admiring to be done here. Well, unless you count turning off to cross one of its many bridges. Four are pedestrian and 17 carry tube and rail lines.
Gliding over each with one short burst of throttle, we sew the two banks of Paris together. The Pont-Neuf, the city’s oldest bridge. The Pont Alexandre III, in all its baroque flamboyancy, that takes you from near the Champs-Élysées towards the Les Invalides and Napoleon’s tomb. The Pont de Grenelle, on whose central pier stands the blueprint for the Statue of Liberty, gazing out, like a ship’s figurehead, towards her big sister in New York.