Thursday, September 30, 2004

Rules of the Road

I'm quite intimidated by the idea of driving on french roads. It's not the speed - though Steph does think of himself as a race car driver - and it's not even the roundabouts, which took some getting used to but are not so scary - except the main one in Reims, those people are just damned crazy. No, what bothers me is that the rules are just so strange; knowing when to turn left in front of another driver, for example. Steph told me yesterday that there's a rule for when both you and the driver in the other lane want to turn left as to whether you pass the car and then turn left, or turn left in front of the car (as we would in the states). Only problem is, he can't remember the rule. Hm.

Turns out parking has its own set of fun rules as well. First I should point out that parking is a real pain in the ass here. Finding a free parking spot downtown is like finding gold. More often you'll have to find a pay-by-the-quarter-hour parking lot and heaven forbid you're two minutes late - I think they must have hidden sensors or parking maids on nearby rooftops with binoculars. Maneuvering around side-streets has it's own special challenges as well. Generally the road is wide enough for cars to park on one side of the street, leaving one lane for two-way traffic. Obviously (at least it was to me) if a car is coming towards you and the cars are parked in your direction, you'd move behind a parked car and let the oncoming car pass.

Ah, but how do you know which side of the road to park on? Well, the French came up with the most obvious solution (please read very heavy sarcasm into that). For the first half of the month, cars park on the side of the street with odd-numbered addresses. The second half of the month, cars park on the side of the street with even-numbered addresses.

Apparently it gets very interesting around the 15th of the month.

*stifled laughter*

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