Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Road signs

Every bush hides an automatic radar machine. The speed limit changes constantly. If you pass a white rectangular sign with a red border indicating the name of a village, no matter how tiny, the speed limit drops to 50 km/h. You are supposed to know this. There wont’ be a speed limit sign - just a radar machine or a cop. If you’re on the open road, without a barrier in the middle, the speed limit will be 90 km/h. Unless it’s not. It could be 70. Narrow streets in tiny villages allow snails to pass, with speed limited to 30 km/h. If the road is divided, the speed limit is supposed to be 110 km/h, but it seems that they can issue more tickets by making it 90 km/h. Never assume anything. The autroute, a much more expensive option than the routes nationaux or departementales, allows a maximum speed of 130 km/h, unless it’s raining. Then it’s 110 km/h. 

Here, the rignt of way really is a right of way. Unless otherwise indicated, anyone coming from the right has the right of way, and you have to let them go. Unless you have a yellow diamond sign, or a sign with an upright arrow crossed by a tiny black line. Then you’re free to roll through the intersection, with only a twinge of fear that the other car will scream out in front of you.

Along with all this are small signs. They’re not into billboards, thankfully. The signs are small, indicating local hotels, restaurants and camping areas. It seems that each village of any size at all has its own tourist office.

Driving on small roads through the countryside is like connecting dots. The nearest big cities are indicated by arrow-shaped signs at intersections. Smaller hamlets have their own signs, relative to their proximity. So if you’re going far - say from Nemours to Anneccy, you need to know the names of the larger towns along the route. You can also use a compass, since the road network is like a series of triangles between villages. If you’re wrong about the relative direction of an indicated town, you might end up going the wrong way. If you ignore the increasingly strident voice of your passenger trying to point out this fact, things can get a bit tense. 

We pass a large sign inviting us to visit the Arcy Caves, indicated as something not to miss in Bourgogne. Unless you’re claustrophobic. We continue. 

Yes, we’ve returned to Bourgogne, this time under a blue sky. We’re even moving in the right direction.

In the middle of nowhere, two signs for restaurant-inns compete for our attention. Rivals, apparently. Voutenay sur Cure seems too small to have two inns, yet there they are. 

For now, we ignore the signs - lunchtime is still an hour away. 

No comments:

Post a Comment