Tips on driving in France

Oct 29th, 2009, 07:25 AM
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Are you saying that Orléans is a village?
kerouac is online now  
Oct 29th, 2009, 09:52 AM
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I've updated my Driving Tips page at:

I've included most of the excellent suggestions made on this thread.

I didn't include Kerouac's note on making left turns, because I really have no section on driving techniques, and also I suspect this is rather a larger and more ideosyncratic topic. When we were learning to drive, back in the Stone Age, when we rode dinosaurs like Fred Flintstone, Margie and I were both taught to turn our dinosaurs cars to the left by turning around an opposing left-turning car, leaving the other car to our left. In actual practice, however, not everyone does this. People seem to do what is convenient, based on the geometry of the intersection, and the local conditions.

Here in the center of Wayland, for instance, cars going north-south mostly turn when they have left arrows giving them the right of way. Despite the fact that the intersection is wide, they almost always cut the corner, and leave the opposing car to the right, in order to make the turn faster. But in the wide intersections of Los Angeles, turning from one multi-lane road to another, it's really necessary to turn around the other car.

Margie pointed out some tips in the Fodor's (printed) guide "Exploring France", and I added the following to the page:

Lights: The [Fodor's] book says, "If another driver flashes his headlights at you, this means that he has priority and you should give way." If that's the case, it's the opposite of the convention in the US, where (at least here in New England) if a driver flashes his lights, he's telling you to proceded, and he will yield.

What do you folks think of that? If it's correct, it could cause a lot of trouble.

justretired is offline  
Oct 29th, 2009, 10:39 AM
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That's a bunch of hooey. Flashing lights either mean "go ahead" or "you're a stupid ass" and you usually know which interpretation is appropriate.
kerouac is online now  
Oct 29th, 2009, 10:41 AM
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Of course, on the autoroute, if you are going the maximum speed limit of 130 km/h in the left lane and a car comes roaring up behind you at 180 km/h, the flashing lights mean "move or die."
kerouac is online now  
Oct 29th, 2009, 10:46 AM
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Fashing lights can also means "watch out, cops ahead".
Pvoyageuse is offline  
Oct 29th, 2009, 02:56 PM
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I'm going to take out the "Flashing Lights" section - it will get too complicated, and I don't think it adds much. I really am trying to stop adding to my page - I don't want it to develop into a massive "everything you always wanted to know about driving in France" collection, and I don't want it to keep expanding forever. It started as just a bunch of personal observations, and then took on a life of its own. Had I known, I probably wouldn't have started with it. On the other hand, I've learned a lot, particularly about priorité à droite.

I once read about someone in the Boston area who was flashing his lights at oncoming cars, to tell them that there was a radar speed trap ahead. He wasn't speeding himself, but he was then pulled over by another police car by the side of the road that he hadn't seen. The office walked up to his window, and said something like, "Who are you, Paul Revere?"

Boston police humor, I guess.

The humorist Dave Barry once noted that "In Boston, the drivers don't even obey the laws of physics."

justretired is offline  

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