On a recent trip to Paris I was surprised to discover that a means of urban transport once regarded to be an embarrassing holdover from the Nazi occupation has returned in force. These are the three-wheel bicycle taxis. In wartime, they came into use due to wartime gasoline rationing; now the price of petrol has given them rebirth.
At the same time, many older drivers remember the amber headlights on French vehicles. These lasted through much of the 20th century. The theory here, originating in the 1930s, was that if Germany invaded clear headlights would pin a bull’s-eye on the panzers.
As a bonus you might say that this color scheme would thwart invaders from Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Italy, Spain or Andorra. Monaco was considered an ally, and the British could be identified when they drive on the wrong side of the battlefield.
History, of course, reflects that the headlight tactic failed, but the Nazis let the French continue with yellow beams because there really wasn’t any petrol during the occupation anyway. By the time Paris was liberated, everyone was so joyous that they forgot the reasoning behind those yellow headlights in the first place. And amber headlights continued until the French auto manufacturer Peugeot convinced the National Assembly to repeal this law for the patriotic reason of overseas auto sales.
About the same time that amber headlights were sent to the junkyard, Reuters carried this dispatch: Carrier pigeons no longer will be considered a security risk likely to take messages to the enemy and their owners need not apply for a license, properly notarized, to keep them. So an army of 3 million birds was freed to carry this message to the four corners of France! However, the law had one caveat. In the event of a national emergency, the birds would drop everything and report to the top of the Arch of Triumph.
A lot of their friends already hang out there anyway, and as far as many tourists below are concerned, the French can draft them too.