Emmett's Impressions from France - French driving style

Emmett's Impressions from France - French driving style


by Emmett Williamson

Driving and traffic have been some of the most culturally different things since arriving in France.  For starters, the lanes of the road are not separated by yellow lines.  In most cases, there is only a white line or dashed white line.  To my American eyes, the road looks like a passing lane, which gave me quite the shock on the first night, when there were headlights on the other side of the road.  I have also learned that at red lights, one can not turn right, even when there are no cars or pedestrians.

While the roads and roundabouts make some sense in Saint Jean d`Illac, the road system in central Bordeaux is beyond me. Sometimes, the sidewalk will become  a road or a Tram railway.  In some areas, people can pay to use a sidewalk to drive down, or a motorcycle will sneak it`s way through an alley to where one is about to step.
Traffic, especially in Bordeaux is also a nightmare to the Salem norms.  The roads are just wide enough to fit a scooter, bike, and bus at the same time.  Apparently French people do not know what the red "Do not cross" symbol means at crosswalks.  Motorcyclists are the dictators of the road as well, as they can and will pass any vehicle whenever they please.  

Intersections are also different, literally, as almost each intersection is unique.  Compared to Salem`s "cookie cutter" system for urban and suburban blocks, in Bordeaux, the city planners must have been drinking a litttle too much of what Bordeaux is known for.  Intersections can range from 2-5 streets all conecting from different directions, with bike lanes, bus lanes, and sometimes the Tram in the middle.  I`m surprised I have not seen any accidents so far.