Posted by / Category Cultural Differences /

I am spending a few days in France to visit family. The thing is, I come from a small village and, basically, there is no choice: I have to rent a car to get there. This means that I have to drive my little ones in a country that’s supposed to be mine but that I don’t recognise any more.

Well, driving in France is nothing short of a challenge. It looks like there is a different set of rules over here. People at the wheel become some sort of monsters who will stop at nothing to make your life a living hell while you drive.



For instance, speed limits must not be respected. Speed limits are, in fact, a minimal speed. Unless there is a police van or a radar, of course. I tend to be very disciplined and I was driving at exactly 90km per hour (the speed limit). Well, everybody was overtaking me. Everybody, even lorries and motorcycles. Unbelievable. Maybe I ended up in the middle of a race without knowing it.


If you don’t have any visibility, it is not a problem, you can overtake. I find this behaviour incredibly dangerous, especially on small country roads, but it doesn’t seem to bother anyone. Have I missed something?


If you believe that the driver in front of you is too slow, you stay as close to him/her as possible. Lovely. Maybe it is supposed to be funny. I need to buy a ‘keep your distance’ sticker. I am not sure that it will work but you never know, it might be worth a try, I suppose.


Traffic lights are just a Christmas decoration at night. Stopping at a red light in the middle of the night is considered to be rude because you are hindering the fluidity of the traffic. Of course. How come I hadn’t thought of this?


No car is too old to be driven, preferably fast. I see old cars from my childhood everywhere…Some look like a pot of yogurt and I thought that they might disintegrate on the motorway. But they didn’t. Mind you, they almost flew.


In short, every time I have to drive somewhere over here, I am freaking out. You do have the odd angry driver in London, but it is the exception rather than the rule…well, it is the other way around over here.


I really hope that I will make it back to London in one piece, as I am honestly appalled with such road rage.


That said, apparently I shouldn’t complain. I am told that it is even worse in Italy. Life is full of challenges I suppose. Maybe I should buy an old tank?



Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London
  • SarahHague

    I hope you enjoy your visit despite crazy drivers who are probably also mostly drunk at this time of year…

    • Anonymous

      A bit of a cliché…
      I am sure they wear berets and have a bottle of red wine in their left hand while driving with the other one :))

    • Sarah has a point here: being able to drive while you are drunk is something to be proud of over here. For some, it is part of being a ‘real’ man. Go figure!

  • Proof that Britain has changed you more than you think!

    • Indeed…I am not sure how it has all happened, but it certainly has…

  • Anonymous

    You should experience driving in Qatar !
    In comparison Paris is a haven of civilized and courteous people… Have a good Xmas still.

    • I have to admit that I have never driven in Qatar. It sounds like an adventure! Have good festive season as well!

  • LOL! I hope you enjoy despite all that craziness! Driving here is very strict but then what is world without people who think they own it? đŸ˜‰

  • Sounds like you’re more British than French when it comes to driving. Don’t you know that a who-cares, get-out-of-my-way, go as fast as I can attitude is much more fun and adventurous than observing those restrictive British rules?

  • Omigoodness! I’m so glad you survived, Muriel! =) I went through the exact same thing just last week. Vancouver doesn’t have a lot of highways and I accidentally found myself on one a couple weeks ago. It was exactly as you described and even trucks were passing me! =P I’m studying the directions more closely next time. =P

  • MuMuGB

    I know! when I drive on my own I am sort of OK with it, but when I travel with children it makes me freak out!

  • MuMuGB

    I have to admit that I have never driven in Qatar. It sounds like an adventure! Have good festive season as well!

  • MuMuGB

    Sarah has a point here: being able to drive while you are drunk is something to be proud of over here. For some, it is part of being a ‘real’ man. Go figure!

  • MuMuGB

    Indeed…I am not sure how it has all happened, but it certainly has…

  • MuMuGB

    I know that. But somehow, when I am driving with children I find it a lot less funny…

  • MuMuGB

    Maybe we should set up a club? I am starting to believe that i am useless at driving! How do people do it?

  • Alex

    If you’re a regular visitor or planning a longer journey through France you might be interested in the Liber-T tag from Sanef Tolling. The tag enables UK motorists to use the automatic telepeage lanes, which have previously been reserved for French residents. Find out more here: https://www.saneftolling.co.uk

  • ALK

    I recognise the symptoms, Muriel, and I have the same ‘problems’, so it’s not just you! It’s especially true of speed limits and angry drivers…

    • I am so glad I am not the only one. It is a nightmare. I am really SCARED now when I drive in France.

      • ALK

        Having learnt to drive in France, I’m not scared to drive there, but I am a lot more careful and respectful of the rules.

        • Same here. And I prefer driving in London. Surprising, but true.

          • ALK

            I don’t mind either way, love driving anywhere!

  • disqus_72GXGq6drQ

    Of course, you know you’ve become British when you say they drive on the wrong side of the road rather than the right side đŸ™‚