So I assume you all know that I don’t have a car here. I don’t have much of a need for one. I can get pretty much everywhere by walking and can get even further by tram or bus.
I also admit that I am a little scared of driving in France. Just think about moving here and not being able to read any of the signs and having to drive around. And the exits being really far apart so that it is almost impossible to turn around. And hardly any gas stations.
And VERY few fast food restaurants. Anytime we travel to another town to visit, we have a pack a lunch and stop at one of the many picnic areas to eat. There are two fast food restaurants (KFC & McD) in the next town over, where all the big stores are, but when we head out to the country there is nothing.
My first day here, my impression of the French is that they are crazy drivers and drive so fast!
One thing that worries me are the traffic lights. They don’t hang overhead and in front of you like in the US. They are on a short pole on the right side and it has two traffic lights on it. One is for bike and mopeds, we think. Sometimes the light poles seem to blend in with the surroundings and I’m scared I will miss one.
The moped and motorcycle drivers are also crazy and are allowed to weave in and out of traffic and in between two cars. They do this a lot to get to the front of the line at red lights. The moped drivers also will drive on the tramline (illegal, we think) and sidewalks so we always have to look both ways even on one way streets.
There are also these crazy roundabouts that are two lanes wide and you can make right turns from either lane. Crazy! There is some sort of rule that you have to go on the inside if you are going around more than two exits.
It also makes me nervous that all lines on the road are white. There are no yellow lines separating two lanes of traffic like in the US, and since there are lots of one way streets, this makes me very nervous.
When we drive to the next town over where all the big stores are there is a median everywhere so you aren’t allowed to cross over the highway to go to a store. You have to drive about a half mile and then make a U-turn (if it is allowed) and turn around and make your way back to the store you want to go to. And if you do this at rush hour, it takes you 20 minutes just to turn around and get back to the store.
They also have these weird rules about 4 way stops. Some 4 way stops don’t have any stop signs and the person on the right has the right of way. No stop signs….no stop lines on the road either so it looks like you have the right away and you can just drive on through!
One way roads that make it difficult to find your way around the city. Enough said.
Another reason it makes me nervous to drive is because we aren’t sure what all the street signs mean. Some are the same as in the US, but some are not. Some we still aren’t sure about like the yellow diamonds, the exclamation point, and the bridge with the line through it.
One other that is slightly confusing is the red and blue sign that means no parking. We know what that means obviously, but what does it mean when it is in black and white?
You also may notice a few signs with town names written on it and then a line through it. These mean that you are leaving whichever city you are in.
So the entire time I have been here, I think I have driven with Michael in the car twice and I have driven by myself twice. Oh yeah, and for some reason being in our car makes me car sick every single time and it is only our car. I’m not sure if it is the car, the way the diesel engine shakes, or what, but now I have to take Dramamine every time we go somewhere. And no I’ve never been car sick before.