When I moved to Europe, I was the typical Birkenstock kind of earthy guy that was screaming, “Awww, my tranportation card that will allow me on any bus or subway. No more expensive cars for me.” Four months later, I bought the only automatic Peugeot in Lyon. The public transportation in this city is 2nd to none. It is reliable, when they are not striking or being repaired, and they are very, very clean. The voyage to work was a 20 minute subway ride and a 20 minute bus ride. At the end of the day of being with the little ones, the last thing I wanted was a 40 minute ride with no air conditioning. Plus we go to the countryside, every 2 weeks, so the car was a no brainer.
To get your driver’s license in France is like them taking your first born. This is no easy feat. You MIGHT be the lucky one where you live in one of the states where you can exchange your license, but they are the oddest of oddest states and then you wake up the next day and they have removed your state and then added some other bizarre one like Idaho. Your american license is good for one year as of the date of your residence visa. After that it is you forking out over a 1000€ for an auto school, 20 hours of you driving with some guy on a stick shift and then ATTEMPTING to pass the written test. A test that the majority of french people do not pass the first time because it is so hard. 30 seconds to answer each question and you better know your French as a foreigner. Then if the heavens bless you, you recieve your paper, yes I said paper, license many months later.
This brings me to the point of the blog. Driving in France has no rules but the rules the drivers make up themselves. You put your key in the car, you take a deep breath, and you pray for the best. They go through all this work to pass the test and then it’s each for his own life. Blinkers are nonexistant, speed limits are nonexistent, you are invisible as another car on the road. Yet the worst are motorcycles who absolutely have no rules on the road whatsoever and can cut you off, cause you to slam to the side of the road, scrape the side of your car as they choose not to wait in the line of cars at the light and then just zoom off 50km over the speed limit.
I try daily to get in my car and do my chant as Louise Hays says, “I am not going to get upset today because you can’t drive.” It works 3 out of 5 days but I catch myself being quite the agressive driver because I am becoming jaded at the rudeness of other drivers. Though I do experience kindness here and there. An occasional hand waving because I let them in front of me or an occasional smile as I am dancing to my tunes at a light. One thing is for sure, on Friday at 3:30 that baby is in the garage ALL weekend and the glorious métro never looked so good even with no air. À plus!