Driving in France takes a lot of getting used to.
In the last three days, I have driven a smidgen short of 1,000 kilometres. By non-Irish standards, that may not be much, but when you think in terms of driving from Dublin to Galway nearly five times, it’s quite a lot.
I think I have finally worked out why driving in France is such a pleasure. It’s all down to who owns the road.
In Ireland, if you drive a flash car, you own the road. If you are a local, you own the road. If you have a fast car you own the overtaking lane. If you have a tractor, you own the road. If you have a four wheel drive you own fucking everything. Driving in Ireland is a constant battle of oneupmanship. The car behind you has to get in front of you at any cost. If it means overtaking on a bend on the brow of a hill, then so be it. Every driver in Ireland seems hell bent on proving that they are faster than you, and that they can get to the next village thirty seconds faster than you can.
In France, it is equal ownership and the difference is staggering. For a start, nearly everyone drives at the speed limit. So, if the limit is 110, then everyone will drive at or close to 110. This means there are few hold ups and no impatience. Overtaking here has to be seen to be believed. It is a simple process – check your mirror, indicate, pull into the overtaking lane and overtake, indicate and get back into the normal lane again. Everyone does this, almost without exception. Unless traffic is very heavy, the overtaking lane will always be empty.
Another aspect of French drivers is their patience. If you are driving at the speed limit of 70 through a village [yes – they have very sensible limits here] and you have a car behind you, he will never flash his lights or hoot at you. He will stick with your speed until it is clear to overtake. In the tree days of driving I never once saw a car being flashed at. I heard a car horn a few times, but that was usually just someone waving at a pal on the pavement.
Throughout that 1,000 kilometres, I don’t think my pulse rate once rose above normal. My adrenaline levels stayed exactly where they were supposed to stay.
Try driving a single mile in Ireland and the pulse goes into near heart attack mode and the adrenaline flows by the gallon.
French drivers are great.
Irish drivers are fucking wankers.