Newsletter from France: weird driving rules & more

Written by on January 19, 2020 in Newsletter from France

Cheese on a platter with cherries and roses, walnuts and hers


Hope you had a good week.

Here I think the most exciting thing to happen is the placement of new plastic life-sized Jersey cows on a traffic roundabout near where I live. I’m really not sure if they are for the benefit of drivers or the real cows who are in the fields on either side of the road, sort of imaginary friends. The French are obsessed with roundabouts. Did you know that half of the world’s traffic roundabouts are to be found in France? And they love to put things on them. I’ve seen model villages, incredible floral displays, giant bottles and bizarre art installations, and occasionally Yellow Jackets, but it’s plastic cows and horses that seem to be the most popular.

Driving in France can be quite an odd experience at times. There’s the priorité à droite rule for starters. It means that drivers entering a road from the right, even onto a main road, have priority and you have to stop and let them out. But not at a roundabout. That’s always priority from the left. And it’s not on all roads, only where there’s a sign for priorité à droite which actually makes it even more hazardous as it’s so random. Some French drivers see it as a test of will to utilize this crazy law without stopping or looking, which doesn’t always get good results, it’s as tricky for the French as it is for foreign drivers.

The French government has introduced a programme to phase it out, though where I live, it’s not obvious. There are still dozens of sneaky roads allowing this practice and even when the road rule is updated, local drivers invariably ignore it because they don’t think the rule should have been changed! I assure you, though, the hand gestures used in the UK when communicating in such circumstances appear to be just as well understood in France.

At least with plastic cows to look at, everyone slows down to admire them!

Wherever you’re driving, I wish you a bon weekend.
Bisous from soggy France,

Author of My Good Life in France: In Pursuit of the Rural Dream

Photo: French cheese. Because January 20th is National Cheese Lovers Day!

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