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That’s where I had to drive


 Things are speeding up. I seem to be spending all my time driving somewhere to pick up my children or attend a meeting. It just never stops.

I had to go to Nice on Thursday. I arrived late in the evening. It was pitch black and the car rental agency told me that they had upgraded my car: I was to drive a Mercedes class B, automatic gearbox. Great, except that I didn’t have a choice because they were down to their last car. I had never driven an automatic car before.
You have to understand that I am not getting any younger. I drive on the left in the UK and on the right in France and I am doing an OK job in both countries. But I am used to driving manual cars. In Europe, most of us drive manual cars. I was scared. I thought that automatic car must be easier to drive, right? I had no choice but to take the car anyway.
It was a long walk to the parking lot. I sat down in the driver seat and realised I couldn’t figure out out to go backwards in this automatic car. How was I supposed to exit the airport parking? What could I do?
Breathe, I thought, breathe. It can’t be that hard, can it? Well, Hard or not, I simply couldn’t figure it out.
As I wasn’t prepared to go back all the way to the front desk to explain the situation, I looked around me. There was a middle-aged guy on the other side of the alley. I asked him for help. He couldn’t speak French, so my English was quite an asset. He explained the whole thing to me.  It wasn’t difficult, you had to choose R for rear, D for drive and N for neutral on the right hand side of the wheel. The guy was American and I thanked him profusely of course. Who said chilvary was gone?
So there I was, driving a German car on a French road thanks to an American guy. Baby, it is a global world out there. And it is complicated!

NB: Congratulations to Mountainmum who won Sonia’s eBook
NNB: I loved the Mercedes class B. Obviously it was a bit difficult to leave my left foot on the side but I could concentrate on the road and it was a great drive!
Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London
  • What a lovely road, Muriel, love that picture! I have been driving automatic cars for years now and especially in heavy town traffic I appreciate it a lotl My latest car has an eco function and whenever I brake it will stop the engine, quite disconcerting in the beginning but I am happy to do my part for an eco friendlier world.

  • AnnMullen

    Stuck without a stick? Now Nice. I have driven both and as I have gotten older and stuck in traffic more often, I am thankful I don’t drive a standard any more. Keep your stick, I like my knob.

  • SueraeStein

    I haven’t driven a stick shift in many years. My husband just recently got one and I tried to drive it. I can still do it, only sometimes I forget that it’s a manual car and it start’s bucking because I forget to put the clutch in and shift. So I don’t drive it if I don’t have to. I never thought of this in a reverse situation.

  • Some of us have problems with the Daimler family- and would avoid their wares at all costs. My revelation was the reverse- when I had to drive a tractor trailer the first time- with 18 gears, having using an automatic for most of my life. I was so glad that was a rental tractor- before I used my own.

  • Carolina HeartStrings

    Ah! Hope your ride had good suspension! Love the cobblestones!

  • SarahHague

    I love automatic cars. I don’t have one because there wasn’t one available when I bought my Yaris, but if I had the choice, I’d get one. They are so cool in town when you are forever changing gears.

  • it is complicated but fun to adjust according to different countries rule and different types of cars. enjoy safe driving

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  • Lucylastica2

    I drive a manual most days, but on the odd occasion I use Hubby’s automatic I struggle to keep my foot still! Great post that shows how small our world is getting too; what with all the international input.

  • Love how “globalized” your experience became! I’m finding it frustrating that, while I have a manual here in the U.S., they are getting harder and harder to find. And to me, driving an automatic is like driving a big mattress, with no feeling of connection to driving, no connection with the road …

  • Carol

    great post. I love a manual too. I always have trouble with strange cars. Glad you had some help.

  • Carol, I wouldn’t have managed without help…

  • I have to admit that this very car was a pleasure to drive. Just like you, I tend to prefer manual, but this one is the exception that confirms the rule…

  • My left foot kept wanting to change gear…eventually, I enjoyed the drive…

  • I am ready to open an international driving school!

  • Well, I used to swear by manual cars but I have to say that I loved driving the class B!

  • It was surprisingly easy…

  • I can understand. As for me, every time I rent a car I am surprised…

  • We tend to drive manuals this side of the pond. I don’t know why.

  • I really enjoyed driving this specific car. It was easy and nice. I could concentrate more on the road. In short, I loved it!

  • The class B had something similar and the drive between Nice and St Tropes only cost me €7 in petrol (usually it is twice as much). I couldn’t believe it!

  • Marie

    Oh my gosh, that’s too funny. Automatic is easier. Really.

  • It is easier. Once you undertsand how it works, that it…