Driving in France again has been a very interesting experience!
Truth is, I have always loved to drive! In the States, I was more than happy to go on little road trips! Driving from NC to Atlanta was just fun! I would load my iPod with podcasts of “The Story” and “Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!” and I would just enjoy the ride. Highways are free, gas is cheap, traveling is fun! Plus, you can zoom in and out of traffic, zigzag in-between the cars… Fun, fun, fun!
In France, it is definitely not the same! The roads are very busy; drivers are very aggressive; and I had to come to the realization that there actually were some traffic signs that I did not even understand!
First of all, speed limits are enforced by some automated ticketing machine set up permanently on the side of the roads. They are even marked on French motorway maps! On top of it, there are even signs that warn you that such a machine is set up about half a kilometer before. I know, it is truly strange! I mean what’s the point? If you tell me that my speed is going to be checked in a few minutes, then I will make sure that I respect the speed limit! Or so you would think!
When I first starting driving in France again, the problem was I simply did not see those signs. It felt like my brain had been used to scan for police cars, not for signs indicating that my speed was going to be checked ahead… BY A MACHINE!! So I kept on missing the signs! And it would take me driving a couple of times on the same road to finally notice them! Oops! But then, my brain would drift again and I would forget that the machine was coming up and pay no attention to that.
Back in September, I worked near Sofia-Antipolis on the Riviera and for a month, on my way to work, I passed such a sign, and presumably such a machine. It actually took me over a week of driving by the sign on a daily basis to notice it and, I have to admit, I actually never saw the machine! I was pretty much getting myself ready for the speeding ticket to show up in my mailbox!
So far so good but now that I have finally learned to spot the signs, it turns out that a new legislation has been passed and they are going to be removed. That’s just great! Now, I have to retrain my brain all over again.
I know, it could be as simple as respecting the speed limit and I would be happy to do so but it seems to change so often that I have a hard time keeping up with it: on the highway, it will sometimes go from 130 to 110 kmph (80 to 70 mph) and then on other roads, it just keeps on changing (randomly as far as I am concerned!).
So yes, I am working on it… But forget about the fun, fun, fun!