As promised I thought I’d write a little bit about driving in Europe. Coming from a right hand drive country things take a bit of getting used to but because of my previous time here the learning curve wasn’t as steep.
What I like
1. Driving allows you to go where you want! This is by far the biggest advantage. We have decided a number of times to go and investigate something on a sign that looked interesting. Try getting your bus driver or train to do that. Honfleur, Sainte-Mere-Eglise, Carentan, Dragey Eglise, Cancale, La Rochelle, and Potes in Spain were not on our original itinerary but all of these places have been very interesting and have added something special to our trip.
2. The “A” roads are awesome for getting from A to B. They vary a little depending on the country but in general they let you get to where you are going in very good time.
3. Drivers keeping to the right (that’s keeping left back home) when not passing. In some instances they are so keen to get out of the fast lane they damn near cut you off. Major kudos to European drivers on this point no old codgers hogging the fast lane like New Zealand.
4. GPS. If you don’t take every thing it says as gospel it is a great tool. I like the fact that you can zoom out and see if the side road you are approaching looks like it’s worth a side trip. I also wonder how many marriage break ups were caused by navigation arguments in the old map reading days.(The GPS will come up again in the “don’t likes”)
5. French and Spanish drivers. Generally they are very courteous as long as you don’t “piss about”. If you mess them around they can get quite agitated. (this will also come up again in the “don’t likes”)
What I don’t like
1. Priority a droite. This is a crazy rule that I think only the French have and it means that when you are driving down a relatively main road at 90kph that car coming off a back country road to your right has priority and you must give way to him or her. It’s probably the rule that freaks me out the most because signage indicating who is supposed to give way changes regularly on a road.
2. Peugeot 208’s. We have one and it is a whiny, vague gearboxed piece of crap. Last time here we had a Renault Megane coupe and it was a million percent better. In defense of the Peugeot it is a different class of car to the Megane but it isn’t doing it for me. Lucky it was cheap!
3. GPS. The thing goes from 80 metres to 0 metres in 10 metres. So when it says “please turn here” you are generally going to fast, looking at the next corner and haven’t indicated at all. Needless to say it has done a fair amount of recalculating or telling me “please do a U turn when possible”.
4. French drivers on the skinny back roads. They don’t seem to have any self preservation instinct at all, I have my right hand tires in the dirt on my side of the road and they have theirs in the dirt as well. We have about 150mm’s between our mirrors when passing and they are still barreling along at 95kph (the speed limit is 90kph).
5. Driving means you miss a bit of the scenery at times, especially when the roads are busy.
I would recommend a driving holiday to anyone it is a great way to get around and the flexibility it provides cannot be matched by any other form of transport. I like driving and I don’t find it any different here to home other than you have to change your driving attitude to match the country your are in.