Heavens, traffic in Paris is scary! I forgot to get my Fearless Licence before I went...but thank God, for I wouldn’t trust myself driving out there! (There are many tales about my poor and misguided reversing attempts, but I shan’t go into them here...) I found it hard, firstly, to register that they drive on the other side of the road to that which I’m used to; secondly, that they sit on the other side of the car to where I expect to see them; and thirdly that they seem to be un-acquainted with the brake pedal until the very last minute...
The roads are one-way but most have two lanes, sometimes with a third for taxis and buses, and they seem to converge in circular ‘hubs’ which aren’t roundabouts but are some kind of junction. Suffice to say, navigationally-challenged me found it difficult to gauge the direction from which the cars, scooters and motorbikes were coming from.
They made themselves known, though, with honking horns and speedy steering into spaces sheer enough not to exist (we witnessed an almost-crash on our last day; how there weren’t more accidents I’ll never know)...quite often alongside a pedestrian (namely Zoe and I), about to cross the road. This was a nerve-wracking activity in itself: whilst there are plenty of zebra crossings, they seem to act more as a grouping-pedestrians-together scheme than bestowing right-of-way to walkers. Indeed, even when the green man is lit up, you won’t be the only one to cross – cars and scooters will join (or overtake) you, encroaching on the space and priority that you expect to be yours.
Clearly, I am a country lass and not a city chick – and this I acknowledge, admit and own. My personal need for fresh air, open spaces and greenery does not stop me wanting to visit towns and cities, and it doesn’t hold me back: it is a preference, a life-choice. While I know I will never come to be ‘one’ with bustling, busy and buzzing cities, I do enjoy visiting them...even if I would never dream of driving whilst there! (And if you’ve seen my reversing, or, worse, experienced my driving, you’ll know that’s the safest option for those cities too...)