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Vive La Deference! (Or More Moaning, With Respect)

February 17, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 174

Now I want to get something straight here and now before I continue...I have nothing against the French; I chose to live here after all. I have nothing against the language (apart from my lack of capability to comprehend it) or indeed the lovely people. I do, however, have some problems with a few irregularities of the French system or the way they go about things and would like to go into more detail. However, as this is an article and not a large book, I won't. Instead my intention here is to point out, in a light-hearted manner of course, some rather mystifying observations that have come to my attention since crossing the English Channel in a southerly direction some years ago.

One only has to read the great works of, say, Peter Mayle or Stephen Clarke (with whom I'm in much sympathy) for similar examples, to appreciate my dilemma.

The long and winding...I happen to live near a small and pretty village situated on the river Tarn. The nearest city is the beautiful red-bricked ancient town of Albi which is about 40 kms or so down-stream and is also situated on The Tarn. The quickest route from Albi to my village follows this river in an easterly direction but this road, the D172, is not without its anomalies.

On the outskirts of Albi, you find yourself in the town of St. Juery. This place is a driver's nightmare: one reason being that it is a mess of speed-bumps (that pernicious little incentive to slow/wear you down and, more likely, dreamt up to with the intention of making the directors of shock-absorber-manufacturers filthy rich). The other reason is this.

Getting one's priorities right. One of the most puzzling things to an English driver is the priorité Ãdroite rule. This basically means that no matter how confident you may feel that you're on a main road and therefore able to assume that you have the right of way, this is sometimes and I emphasize sometimes, is not the case. You see, the priorité Ãdroite way of doing things means that another car can come straight out of a side road into the main stream of traffic without stopping.

Not only is this antiquated and illogical but it is downright dangerous, as goes without saying. Apparently the French drivers are aware of this absurdity and it has been known for them to use this to their advantage, e.g. when they have some self-inflicted previous damage to the front-wing of their vehicle that they might want the opportunity to blame on someone else! It's all made worse by the fact that the indicative sign of whether to give way (cedez le passage) or, more urgently, Stop! is generally more visible to the (opportunist, heh,heh!) driver, who's just about to ram you in the side from his quiet little back street, than to your unsuspecting self.

In a roundabout sort of way. Going back to the days of the horse and cart, when the pace of life was somewhat slower, this outdated directive can also, you guessed it, (sometimes) apply at roundabouts (rond points). Being a very English invention, the roundabout is quite a new concept here but is, in theory, a good system if you think about; you wait until there's a gap and then jump onboard-simple!

In St.Juery town-centre is one of the traditional French, I-was-here-first-so-get-out-of-my-putain*-way type of roundabout to be negotiated and every time I approach this, my brain goes completely blank...

Even more mind-boggling is the fact that about half a kilometre further down the road is the other sort, the English, give way, sort. It's enough to da-da-da drive you around the fa-fa-fa....king bend (or rond point).

(Excuse my fa-fa-French)

*Don't ask - look it up.

And if you have been, thanks for reading. A bientôt!

Please note: No reference was made to an English-French dictionary during the making and production of this article, (well, not too many).

About the author; Kim van Hoorn started out as a graphic designer back in the seventies designing, among other things, record sleeves for the music industry in London before setting up on his own in the provinces. At this time he also produced work for a company of chartered surveyors which is how he became more interested in drawing buildings in particular. He now lives in SW France where he continues to draw and write about life in France and other stuff. For more details about his work please visit his website at: Tunnel video:

Source: EzineArticles
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