VOL. 19 NO. 1
~ beginning our 19th year of publication
|The Independent Traveler's Newsletter|
" . . . Yet
isn't a train I wouldn't take, No matter where it's going.."
from Travel by Edna St Vincent Millay [1892-1950]
IN THIS ISSUE:
the Signs: Driving in France
Thello: Marseille to Milan
~ Some High Spots & Some Highjinks
by Arthur Gillette
Buses to Compete with Trains
Gastronomic Burgundy . . . on a Plate
by Sue Boxell
2015 Tour de France Route
This issue of our newsletter is devoted to getting around in France -
we could subtitle it, "Trains, Buses and Automobiles" with the bicycles of the
Tour de France thrown in for good measure. We hope you enjoy it!
KNOW THE SIGNS: Driving in France
We have been
driving in France for about 25 years, bravely getting behind the wheel
of a rental car that very first time, taking out our unwieldy road
and forging ahead - knowing little of French road signs, ronds points or such things as
the rules governing the right of way. We soon appreciated the
aforementioned ronds points
(known as roundabouts in the
UK and traffic circles in the
US and wished we had many more of them back home).
a car in France is very easy thanks to the Internet. Where we
once had to call a rental agency and discuss every detail of our rental
on the phone, we can now go to a wider variety of car rental web sites,
models and prices, find the perfect pick-up and drop-off locations,
book the rental and pay online with a credit card in our own
currency. A receipt with all
the details is emailed to us which we take with us when we
pick up the car. Simple and easy.
Driving in France is something
we've also found quite easy, despite the occasional missed turn and
finding ourselves becoming expert at making U-turns. We are
fortunate to drive
on the right side of the road in the US as they do in Europe, but
visitors from Ireland, the UK, Australia, Japan, several southern
African nations, former
English colonies, etc., will find it
challenging at first. But they really shouldn't become
discouraged. Most people adapt to the change quickly.
A bit of history: Left-hand drive has its roots in feudal times when swordsmen on horseback needed to be close to their enemies on the left and able to use their right arms to wield their swords. Later, in 18th century France, those hauling goods in wagons drawn by teams of horses sat behind the left horse so they had their right arm free to lash the team - and so they could watch the wagon wheels when others passed them by. Thus, they drove to the right side of the road, beginning a tradition that remains in 65% of the world to this day. Driving on the right came about gradually in much of Europe. The Empress Elizabeth of Russia's edict in 1752 made it mandatory that all traffic should keep to the right; later in France, following the Revolution, traveling on the right was formally adopted (previously the nobility rode on the left and the peasants were off to the right) when the aristocrats attempted to blend into the crowds by moving to the right. Finally, in 1794, driving on the right became compulsory. Napoléon spread the right-hand driving system to many countries in Europe including Spain, Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands and Poland, but still many countries did not comply, including Portugal. Only after World War I mainland Europe moved to the right, leaving only the British isles, Sweden and some eastern European countries driving on the left. In fact, some changed as late as World War II, with Sweden being the last mainland holdout when in 1955 it was decreed that they were to drive on the right.
you adjust to driving in France, whether you are used to right-hand
drive or not, it is important to familiarize
yourself with the highway
signs. Many are self-explanatory and some may be the same
or similar to
those you will see at home. However, there are those that could
puzzling, so we will explain their meanings in this issue of our
newsletter. Also, for those who are used to speed limits and
distances in miles per hour, an easy rule of thumb for converting
kilometers to miles is to know that two-thirds of a kilometer is a
mile: 90 kilometers is approximately 60 miles.
inside. . .
with a click
> to read about the new train to Milan from Marseille - a welcome addition to rail travel by Anita Rieu-Sicart.
to read Gastronomic Burgundy - on a plate and see what a visit
to Burgundy offers in the way of local food specialties from Sue
Boxell, a guide and expert on the region.
> and more from Anita: good news about taking the bus in France as the government encourages competition between rail and bus travel.
> to see the route map of the 2015 Tour de France - just in case you are planning to catch a Stage or two on your upcoming visit.
~> for an update the recent discovery of 60 classic cars, carelessly stored on a farm in the southwest of France but just auctioned off in Paris for over 25 million euros!
. . . and more!
in our Spring issue:
~ PARIS REBORN - Napoléon III, Baron
Haussmann and the Quest to Build
a Modern City
a book by Stephane Kirkland
Three Towns in Brittany
~ A Delightful Seaside town, A Hilltop
Medieval Gem, and a South Coast
TONGUES . . .
by Arthur Gillette
Welcome to Twisted Tongues, a French word game everyone can play. See if you can come up with the correct translation of the phrase in question. You may be quite surprised by how it differs from what you first thought it meant.
Answer from our Autumn issue: "Ah, la vache!". It doesn't mean "Oh, the cow!" but it does mean "I'll be darned!" or "Oh, shucks!"
Phrase: "Être mal luné" = Does it mean "to be a bad moon" ? No. Can you guess?
Look for the correct translation in our Spring 2015 newsletter. Have fun!
Gillette to take advantage of his amazing knowledge of Paris
SPONSORING THIS ISSUE
For an unforgettable visit to Brittany, be sure to stay at
Château de la Foltière, and enjoy its amazing gardens:
Le Parc Floral de Haute Bretagne
Five elegant guest rooms are offered at this lovely B&B at the edge of a pond
and surrounded by 24 spectacular gardens offering plants from all the
continents of the world ensuring that something is in bloom in every season.
Click on the photo to inquire or to make your reservation.