Tag Archive | "continental driving"

The Pleasures And Differences Of Driving In France


The pleasures of driving are much more enjoyable across the Channel in France than they are in the UK. In the countryside roads can disappear arrow straight to the horizon and in the mountains there are ascents, hairpins and descents to test the handling of any motor. It is only in the large towns that things can become fraught.

There is a rule called Priorité à droite. This is a fiendish way to reduce average traffic speeds and keep a whole battalion of car body repairers in work. Basically it means any vehicle joining a road from the right (roads, driveways, fields, gates, anything you can think of) has priority. On main roads you can see the sign of a yellow diamond; this means you have right of way (unless Pierre has had a large liquid lunch. Which he has). If the diamond has a black bar diagonally across it means Priorité à droite, so stay alert and keep ‘em peeled!

The French Police look intimidating as they all carry guns, but those I have met had at least a few words of English. Your editor have been stopped a couple of times. Each time Les Flics were polite and asked for my ‘permis de conduire’ (driving licence) and insurance. Note: A gym membership card doesn’t work. Another time I was stopped and asked if I had consumed any alcohol. At 10am? ‘Café seulement’, I replied neglecting to add that a stiff drink would help with their stupid rules. Note: If you have motorists coming towards you flashing their headlights it is very likely there is a police patrol ahead they may be doing routine checks or have a radar speed trap set up.

Don’t plan on repairing your own car. DIY motoring is pretty rare, en France. There are few local motor shops and Motor Factors who supply garages and the like and are not used to dealing with the average motorist, especially if his knowledge of automotive technical French is nonexistent. If your French is competent though, they will supply the right part – and then you can do it yourself.

So remember: driving in France is great; plenty of open roads and many, many places to explore, but it’s another country and they do things differently there. You’ll need warning triangles, high-viz jackets (which must be accessible within the cabin) and even a pair of home breathalysers for self testing, although it’s fair to say that, although it is law, the police don’t seem overly concerned.

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