Driving in France

This was one part of the job that worried me when I applied. I’ve only ever driven on the right once before (Magaluf a few years ago) and I got into an accident at a junction. I hasten to add that it wasn’t my fault (I have a witness!), but being the tourist I got blamed anyway.

So you have the obvious with all the traffic being on the wrong side of the road. Nice country, barking mad drivers. After a while, I got tired of all the beeping horns and flashing headlights (and screeching tyres, smashing glass, screams of abuse…) and decided I wasn’t going to be able to re-educate them simply by stubbornly driving on the left regardless.

After a while, you get used to it. Like in Spain, my first real problem was that every time I tried to change gear, I’d open the door instead. Not fun at 50km/h on an uphill stretch with a sheer drop to my left.

While driving in France, if you’ve not seen a Renault Kangoo van after five minutes, you should pull over at the first opportunity and have an eyesight test. The bloody things are everywhere. Almost every small van you see is a Kangoo. And they’re crap in the snow, I’ve been reliably informed. Which is great as I’ll be using one to get to and from the resorts. Lovely.

Traffic police here are complete bar stewards as well. Speed traps are everywhere and not necessarily signposted, or even obvious. Sometimes you’ll see them stood at the roadside with a camera on a tripod. Other times it’s a plain, undecorated car in a layby. On a par with a story one of the Aussies here told me – a camera hidden in an adapted wheelie bin.

I’ve actually been driving a big Renault Trafic recently, and the things go like stink. Six gears, tons of pull and they corner wonderfully. I can even get the tyres to squeal going round some of the hairpins. I will of course be backing off the accelerator come the snowy season! Some of the corners don’t have any barriers and the drops are pretty damn scary.

The company offer a short driving course which I’ve been offered a place on as well. I think I’ll take them up on it as I will be doing quite a few miles kilometres. A little knowledge is always a good thing.

So now I only have to worry about what happens when I get home and I’m used to driving on the right…

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