Vive la difference

Discussion in 'UK and Europe' started by Just Zis Guy, Jun 1, 2003.

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  1. Just Zis Guy

    Just Zis Guy Guest

    We've just spent a week in Normandy and (of course) we took the bikes with us. An overall height of
    2.6m and length of 5.5m gave us a prime spot on the ferry over, but we were last off coming back. Ho
    hum. The boat crew were very good about spotting the height, and bunged a big notice on the car on
    the way back saying "do not move until specifically instructed." Next time I might try lying the
    megabike down going through the port, as we were only a few inches over the usual height limit. We
    saw several tandemists on the way over, mostly tandem club members on the way to a rally, and the
    racks which set the fork at roofbar level (front wheel out) seemed to get the bikes under the magic
    limit. That probably wouldn't work with the Megabike though; the frame is more complex.

    I was impressed by the remains of the Mulberry harbour at Arromanches. When you think that the
    harbour had a design service life of six months and was assembled on site in under two weeks,
    the fact that a substantial part of it still exists sixty years later is amazing. By
    comparison the average British cycle track takes years to plan and build and is unusable after
    about three weeks :-(

    I noticed a number of differences between Norman driving and British driving - most notably less
    impatience and far better overtaking. When driving at the speed limit, around half the cars which
    overtook us were British registered. This rose to close to 100% when we were off the roads to and
    from ferry ports. When cycling we were agreeably surprised to find that people seemed quite content
    to wait for a safe place before overtaking, to leave plenty of room when passing, and nobody cut in
    before they were all the way past. Probably because they didn't overtake into oncoming traffic.
    Roads are uniformly excellently signposted, and every individual hamlet is marked on the larger
    scale maps so it's easy to find out where you are. Harder to spot the big hills, but you get used to
    the scale after a while.

    We enjoyed the cries of "regardez! le velo!" and groups of astonished French people rubbernecking as
    we rode by on the triplet - we saw no tandems or recumbents, but lots of bikes of all sorts.

    The man at the crêperie at Carolles-plage was only to pleased to remplir our bouteilles for us,
    which was just as well as the weather was "scorchio" all week. Luvverly :)

    Top entertainment was watching the locals trying to decide how to handle the mini roundabout outside
    the restaurant where we ate lunch on Thursday. They don't really "get" roundabouts in France yet, I
    reckon, and this turned into a chaotic free-for-all reminiscent of the scene in the Pink Panther
    where the old man is trying to cross the street and cars come at him from all directions.

    We did see the Norman conker trees which gave William his name, and huge quantities of mistletoe. We
    did the touristy thing and visited le Mont St. Michel (having seen it from the beach at St. Jean le
    Thomas, great view across the bay, huge hill to get out of the town). We arrived at 18h00 on
    Thrsday, a French bank holiday so it was open late - that meant it wasn't too hot to climb up to the
    Abbey, and we had time for a fair look round. Amazing place. Best appreciated with minimum numbers
    of les grockles, though, so plan your visit for very early in the morning or last thing in the
    evening I reckon. If cycling, watch out - the road to le Mont had the worst driving standards we
    came across. Also staggering numbers of coaches and an unbelievable quantity of mobile homes, many
    of which seemed to be Belgian.

    We didn't ride very much - too hot and the boys really wanted to play on the beach - but we rode
    some and were sufficiently encouraged to try it again some time. Point of information: Normandy
    is not flat.

    Guy
    ===
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  2. Bob Flemming

    Bob Flemming Guest

    Sounds good.

    I remember doing a job for a couple that had a small property in France <somewhere south>, who spent
    a great deal of time there. It was just at the time I packed up smoking and started to cycle again
    after 25 years. I remember the wife remarking to me that 'the cyclist' is held in generally high
    regard by other road users in France, almost as if it was part of the national consciousness, type
    of thing. How true this is, I've no idea, I've never cycled over there, no experience, and it's
    experience that counts I guess :)

    Didn't we have a similar mentaility over here years ago? Not sure. If we did, what happened to it?

    bob

    >We've just spent a week in Normandy and (of course) we took the bikes with us. An overall height of
    >2.6m and length of 5.5m gave us a prime spot on the ferry over, but we were last off coming back.
    >Ho hum. The boat crew were very good about spotting the height, and bunged a big notice on the car
    >on the way back saying "do not move until specifically instructed." Next time I might try lying the
    >megabike down going through the port, as we were only a few inches over the usual height limit. We
    >saw several tandemists on the way over, mostly tandem club members on the way to a rally, and the
    >racks which set the fork at roofbar level (front wheel out) seemed to get the bikes under the magic
    >limit. That probably wouldn't work with the Megabike though; the frame is more complex.
    >
    >I was impressed by the remains of the Mulberry harbour at Arromanches. When you think that the
    >harbour had a design service life of six months and was assembled on site in under two weeks,
    >the fact that a substantial part of it still exists sixty years later is amazing. By comparison
    >the average British cycle track takes years to plan and build and is unusable after about three
    >weeks :-(
    >
    >I noticed a number of differences between Norman driving and British driving - most notably less
    >impatience and far better overtaking. When driving at the speed limit, around half the cars which
    >overtook us were British registered. This rose to close to 100% when we were off the roads to and
    >from ferry ports. When cycling we were agreeably surprised to find that people seemed quite content
    >to wait for a safe place before overtaking, to leave plenty of room when passing, and nobody cut in
    >before they were all the way past. Probably because they didn't overtake into oncoming traffic.
    >Roads are uniformly excellently signposted, and every individual hamlet is marked on the larger
    >scale maps so it's easy to find out where you are. Harder to spot the big hills, but you get used
    >to the scale after a while.
    >
    >We enjoyed the cries of "regardez! le velo!" and groups of astonished French people rubbernecking
    >as we rode by on the triplet - we saw no tandems or recumbents, but lots of bikes of all sorts.
    >
    >The man at the crêperie at Carolles-plage was only to pleased to remplir our bouteilles for us,
    >which was just as well as the weather was "scorchio" all week. Luvverly :)
    >
    >Top entertainment was watching the locals trying to decide how to handle the mini roundabout
    >outside the restaurant where we ate lunch on Thursday. They don't really "get" roundabouts in
    >France yet, I reckon, and this turned into a chaotic free-for-all reminiscent of the scene in the
    >Pink Panther where the old man is trying to cross the street and cars come at him from all
    >directions.
    >
    >We did see the Norman conker trees which gave William his name, and huge quantities of mistletoe.
    >We did the touristy thing and visited le Mont St. Michel (having seen it from the beach at St. Jean
    >le Thomas, great view across the bay, huge hill to get out of the town). We arrived at 18h00 on
    >Thrsday, a French bank holiday so it was open late - that meant it wasn't too hot to climb up to
    >the Abbey, and we had time for a fair look round. Amazing place. Best appreciated with minimum
    >numbers of les grockles, though, so plan your visit for very early in the morning or last thing in
    >the evening I reckon. If cycling, watch out - the road to le Mont had the worst driving standards
    >we came across. Also staggering numbers of coaches and an unbelievable quantity of mobile homes,
    >many of which seemed to be Belgian.
    >
    >We didn't ride very much - too hot and the boys really wanted to play on the beach - but we rode
    >some and were sufficiently encouraged to try it again some time. Point of information: Normandy is
    >not flat.
    >
    >Guy
    >===
    >** WARNING ** This posting may contain traces of irony. http://www.chapmancentral.com (BT ADSL and
    >dynamic DNS permitting)
    >NOTE: BT Openworld have now blocked port 25 (without notice), so old mail addresses may no longer
    > work. Apologies.
     
  3. Jim Price

    Jim Price Guest

    Just zis Guy, you know? wrote:

    > Top entertainment was watching the locals trying to decide how to handle the mini roundabout
    > outside the restaurant where we ate lunch on Thursday. They don't really "get" roundabouts in
    > France yet, I reckon, and this turned into a chaotic free-for-all reminiscent of the scene in the
    > Pink Panther where the old man is trying to cross the street and cars come at him from all
    > directions.

    IIRC, they changed the way roundabouts worked in France a few years ago. You used to have to give
    way to people coming onto the roundabout. I think they called it "priorite a droite" (with accents
    etc.). There are probably plenty of French drivers who have not quite got around to changing old
    habits. I'm not sure whether this applied to bikes aswell, but I do remember cycling for 10 miles
    without touching the handlebars when I was a kid on an exchange visit to France, thanks to very
    little, very polite traffic.

    Jim Price
     
  4. Just Zis Guy

    Just Zis Guy Guest

    On Sun, 01 Jun 2003 14:54:33 +0100, Bob Flemming <[email protected]> wrote:

    >'the cyclist' is held in generally high regard by other road users in France, almost as if it was
    >part of the national consciousness, type of thing. How true this is, I've no idea,

    I'm not sure - it's possible that the rural area where we stayed is just accustomed to waiting when
    following tractors or bikes or whatever; certainly nobody seemed to be in much of a hurry.

    Guy
    ===
    ** WARNING ** This posting may contain traces of irony. http://www.chapmancentral.com (BT ADSL and
    dynamic DNS permitting)
    NOTE: BT Openworld have now blocked port 25 (without notice), so old mail addresses may no longer
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  5. Just Zis Guy

    Just Zis Guy Guest

    On Sun, 01 Jun 2003 15:39:33 +0100, Jim Price <[email protected]> wrote:

    >IIRC, they changed the way roundabouts worked in France a few years ago.

    It was more than a decade to my certain knowledge, as I was last in France about that long ago and
    it was not new then - I think they have just started to get the bug and send out a man with a tin of
    paint whenever they see a junction which plainly requires no modification
    :)

    Guy
    ===
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  6. Jim Price

    Jim Price Guest

    Just zis Guy, you know? wrote:
    > On Sun, 01 Jun 2003 15:39:33 +0100, Jim Price <[email protected]> wrote:
    >
    >
    >>IIRC, they changed the way roundabouts worked in France a few years ago.
    >
    >
    > It was more than a decade to my certain knowledge, as I was last in France about that long ago and
    > it was not new then

    Ah, that'll be the use of my local country dialect meaning of "a few" - a number filling the gap
    between "a couple" (which can be more than two!?!) and "a shed load". It'll be at least ten years
    after I first cycled in France though. Now I'm beginning to feel old.

    > - I think they have just started to get the bug and send out a man with a tin of paint whenever
    > they see a junction which plainly requires no modification
    > :)

    I see junctions of said ilk in this country, with work(?)men in the vicinity, plainly leaning on
    road painting equipment as long as unnecessary. The usual result seems to be to make things more
    dangerous for everybody, like the pinch point they've just thrown together within a mile of my house
    on a now ex-route to a bike shop.

    Jim Price
     
  7. Simon

    Simon Guest

    Other than the fact that it is their national sport (football is just a hobby to them!), the French
    regard for cyclists is due in part to the hefty penalties imposed on drivers involved in accidents
    with bikes.

    A good thing, IMHO.

    "Just zis Guy, you know?" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > On Sun, 01 Jun 2003 14:54:33 +0100, Bob Flemming <[email protected]> wrote:
    >
    > >'the cyclist' is held in generally high regard by other road users in France, almost as if it was
    > >part of the national consciousness, type of thing. How true this is, I've no idea,
    >
    > I'm not sure - it's possible that the rural area where we stayed is just accustomed to waiting
    > when following tractors or bikes or whatever; certainly nobody seemed to be in much of a hurry.
    >
    > Guy
    > ===
    > ** WARNING ** This posting may contain traces of irony. http://www.chapmancentral.com (BT ADSL and
    > dynamic DNS permitting)
    > NOTE: BT Openworld have now blocked port 25 (without notice), so old mail addresses may no longer
    > work. Apologies.
     
  8. Just zis Guy, you know? wrote:

    > I noticed a number of differences between Norman driving and British driving - most notably less
    > impatience and far better overtaking. When driving at the speed limit, around half the cars which
    > overtook us were British registered. This rose to close to 100% when we were off the roads to and
    > from ferry ports.

    I have noted, however, that on the autoroute, sticking to the speed limit will, in general, render
    you one of the slowest on the road. I found this heading south a couple of years ago, when
    discovering that cruising at more that 120 km/h my two-hamster-power motorcar was counter-productive
    due to the sudden and drastic increase in go-juice consumption...

    Cycling in rural France, though, is Most Excellent, and French drivers will wait patiently behind a
    heavily-laden touring bike, with a prominent GB sticker, grinding up a twisting Alp for Simply Ages
    until they are 100% sure that it is safe to overtake.

    Dave Larrington - http://www.legslarry.beerdrinkers.co.uk/
    ===========================================================
    Editor - British Human Power Club Newsletter
    http://www.bhpc.org.uk/
    ===========================================================
     
  9. Dave Kahn

    Dave Kahn Guest

    "Just zis Guy, you know?" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:<[email protected]>...

    > I'm not sure - it's possible that the rural area where we stayed is just accustomed to waiting
    > when following tractors or bikes or whatever; certainly nobody seemed to be in much of a hurry.

    It's not quite the same in and around Paris. :)

    --
    Dave...
     
  10. Dave Kahn

    Dave Kahn Guest

    "Just zis Guy, you know?" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:<[email protected]>...

    > I was impressed by the remains of the Mulberry harbour at Arromanches. When you think that the
    > harbour had a design service life of six months and was assembled on site in under two weeks,
    > the fact that a substantial part of it still exists sixty years later is amazing. By comparison
    > the average British cycle track takes years to plan and build and is unusable after about three
    > weeks :-(
    >
    > I noticed a number of differences between Norman driving and British driving - most notably less
    > impatience and far better overtaking.

    It's great cycling around that area. We had a club expedition over there last year for the Duo
    Normand. I do remember though nearly being taken out by a bus that turned into my path on the
    descent into Arromanches. Apart from that one incident I experienced nothing but courtesy from
    French motorists.

    > Top entertainment was watching the locals trying to decide how to handle the mini roundabout
    > outside the restaurant where we ate lunch on Thursday. They don't really "get" roundabouts in
    > France yet, I reckon, and this turned into a chaotic free-for-all reminiscent of the scene in the
    > Pink Panther where the old man is trying to cross the street and cars come at him from all
    > directions.

    French roundabouts still have priority to the right so traffic on the roundabout has to give way to
    traffic entering unless there are markings on the road turning it into a mirror image of a good old
    British roundabout. It's the seemingly random mixture of two completely opposite sets of rules,
    together with a sprinkling of confused Britons, that makes life interesting.

    --
    Dave...
     
  11. Guy Chapman

    Guy Chapman Guest

    "Dave Larrington" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:<[email protected]>...

    > I have noted, however, that on the autoroute, sticking to the speed limit will, in general, render
    > you one of the slowest on the road.

    Not sure. It was raining on the way over, so the autoroute limit was down to 110; lots of British
    cars and several Belgian went past but very few French. Coming back we were mainly on N roads, so
    110 was the limit anyway. My car also uses disproportionate amounts of juice at 130km/h when loaded
    with bikes and the aircon is on, so I would probably have stuck to 110 on the A as well had I used
    it - in which case I'd of been able to test your hypothesis a bit. Maybe.

    Guy
     
  12. Dave Kahn

    Dave Kahn Guest

    Jim Price <[email protected]> wrote in message news:<[email protected]>...

    > I see junctions of said ilk in this country, with work(?)men in the vicinity, plainly leaning on
    > road painting equipment as long as unnecessary. The usual result seems to be to make things more
    > dangerous for everybody, like the pinch point they've just thrown together within a mile of my
    > house on a now ex-route to a bike shop.

    These pinch points are designed to give motorists a choice between slowing down for a moment or
    killing a cyclist. For many motorists slowing down does not seem to be a realistic option so the
    choice is easy. "Traffic calming" it's called.

    --
    Dave...
     
  13. In message <[email protected]>, Dave Larrington <[email protected]> writes
    > have noted, however, that on the autoroute, sticking to the speed
    > limit will, in general, render you one of the slowest on the road.

    Quite true. French colleagues have told me that 150-160 kph is common on autoroutes and confirmed by
    my experience. But driving on many autoroutes is an absolute joy - relatively little traffic,
    excellent road surface. The wonders of tolls!
    --
    Michael MacClancy
     
  14. Michael MacClancy wrote:

    > French colleagues have told me that 150-160 kph is common on autoroutes and confirmed by my
    > experience. But driving on many autoroutes is an absolute joy - relatively little traffic,
    > excellent road surface. The wonders of tolls!

    What Michael said. Though I have heard tell that Jean Loi may well look at ones toll ticket, do
    a swift bit of arithmetic and, should he determine that one has been Un Garçon Méchant, either
    nick one or let one off provided one stays put until ones average speed has dropped into the
    legal. Gallic logic. They seem particularly keen on applying this to Brit bikers en route to or
    from the Bol d'Or.

    Dave Larrington - http://www.legslarry.beerdrinkers.co.uk/
    ===========================================================
    Editor - British Human Power Club Newsletter
    http://www.bhpc.org.uk/
    ===========================================================
     
  15. Carol Hague

    Carol Hague Guest

    Just zis Guy, you know? <[email protected]> wrote:

    > I noticed a number of differences between Norman driving and British driving - most notably less
    > impatience and far better overtaking.

    Oh yes - when we went a few years ago we noticed that any car that skimmed too close to us on our
    bikes would invariably have a non-French sticker on the back - usually GB :-(

    > We did see the Norman conker trees which gave William his name, and huge quantities of mistletoe.
    > We did the touristy thing and visited le Mont St. Michel (having seen it from the beach at St.
    > Jean le Thomas, great view across the bay, huge hill to get out of the town).

    We stayed there on our tour - the name of the place made me giggle, mainly because I'm silly...The
    beach was very muddy though.

    > We arrived at 18h00 on Thrsday, a French bank holiday so it was open late - that meant it wasn't
    > too hot to climb up to the Abbey, and we had time for a fair look round. Amazing place. Best
    > appreciated with minimum numbers of les grockles, though, so plan your visit for very early in the
    > morning or last thing in the evening I reckon.

    Is there still a huge glass book in the middle of the cloister at the top? I reckon whoever agreed
    to putting that there should have been chucked off the roof. Philistine.

    Did you get to see the tide come in ? Absolutely amazing to watch, even if you've heard about
    it before.

    > We didn't ride very much - too hot and the boys really wanted to play on the beach - but we rode
    > some and were sufficiently encouraged to try it again some time. Point of information: Normandy is
    > not flat.

    No indeed :) We found a particularly nasty hill into Avranche with bends and accompanying lorries,
    which are alarming even when they're well-behaved French ones... The crepes make up for a lot
    though :)

    --
    Carol Hague "How can you rule a country that has 165 kinds of cheese?"
    - Charles de Gaulle
     
  16. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    "Dave Kahn" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...

    > French roundabouts still have priority to the right so traffic on the roundabout has to give way
    > to traffic entering unless there are markings on the road turning it into a mirror image of a good
    > old British roundabout.

    Not seen one like that in the times I've been driving to the alps/pyrenees on N roads (ie I tend to
    meet roundabouts in a lot of areas). They're all like the GB ones with the obvious mirroring thing.

    cheers, clive
     
  17. In message <[email protected]>, Clive George

    >"Dave Kahn" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    >news:[email protected]...
    >
    >> French roundabouts still have priority to the right so traffic on the roundabout has to give way
    >> to traffic entering unless there are markings on the road turning it into a mirror image of a
    >> good old British roundabout.
    >
    >Not seen one like that in the times I've been driving to the alps/pyrenees on N roads (ie I tend to
    >meet roundabouts in a lot of areas). They're all like the GB ones with the obvious mirroring thing.
    >
    >cheers, clive
    >
    >
    I agree, the priorite a droit on roundabouts seems to be largely a thing of the past. However, it's
    still quite common in Holland (just watch Dutch motorists uncertainly navigating roundabouts in
    Germany) and in Belgium you really must be on the lookout for cars coming from the right, always.
    --
    Michael MacClancy
     
  18. Tony Raven

    Tony Raven Guest

    In news:[email protected], Michael MacClancy
    <[email protected]> typed:
    >
    > and in Belgium you really must be on the lookout for cars coming from the right, always.

    Surely you mean all directions ;-)

    Tony

    --
    http://www.raven-family.com

    "All truth goes through three steps: First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed.
    Finally, it is accepted as self-evident." Arthur Schopenhauer
     
  19. Just Zis Guy

    Just Zis Guy Guest

    On Tue, 3 Jun 2003 17:51:37 +0100, [email protected] (Carol Hague) wrote:

    [re: le Mont St. Michel]

    >Is there still a huge glass book in the middle of the cloister at the top?

    Don't recall seeing it, so maybe not.

    >Did you get to see the tide come in ? Absolutely amazing to watch, even if you've heard about
    >it before.

    Yes, amazing. But not over the causeway.

    Guy
    ===
    ** WARNING ** This posting may contain traces of irony. http://www.chapmancentral.com (BT ADSL and
    dynamic DNS permitting)
    NOTE: BT Openworld have now blocked port 25 (without notice), so old mail addresses may no longer
    work. Apologies.
     
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