David Fitzgerald: An idiot's guide to France
WELL DONE to Paris Saint-Germain for their latest "help the aged" campaign and we look forward to Madame Posh and David to announce the arrival of little Arc de Triomphe Beckham.
I used to live in Paris in the 1970s, a lovely city full of some of the loveliest people, until they got into a car!
I often found myself staring in horror at the traffic hurtling around the Arc de Triomphe.
Mind you, anywhere in France was fair game for a crash in those days and I know that in 1972 alone, 17,000 people died on the roads of France. Look it up, that is a fact.
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Thankfully the figures are now nearer 4,000 as the French government have introduced radical tough measures like speed limits, anti drink driving campaigns and pointing out to some of the slower minded inhabitants that they drive on the right.
They even changed the priorities on roundabouts as at one time anyone joining a roundabout had priority over the traffic that was on it. Yep…..traffic stopped on a roundabout to let other people in. Then they changed it, I suspect in or around 1972. But that does not stand the test on all roundabouts even for today. On some quieter country roads, if you look down and see a white line approaching the roundabout that means you still have priority to join….I think? If David is reading this, here is a tip for you. DON'T LOOK DOWN. Looking down will only make things worse! Just brake, stop and while the rest of the family assume the crash position, wait for the impact and pray that the car behind is a 2CV. If one of those rear ends you, whiplash is not going to be a problem, it might dislodge the box of tissues on the parcel shelf but your air bag isn't going to go off…. assuming she is travelling with you. And look on the bright side David, there are worse places to drive, Istanbul, Rome and Madrid come to mind. If you have the reactions of a Top Gun pilot you could try Malta, Israel or Florida. Milan could be pretty tricky but now Balotelli is there…..I'm going to stop that sentence right here as The Herald legal team are standing at my shoulder.
Urban myths dispelled; you are insured if you enter the Arc de Triomphe in a car, but remember one accident happens every seven minutes on what is basically Europe's roundabout! Paris has very few pot holes, 'les craters' would be a better term and there are cobbled streets in some areas, which they water in summer to keep the dust down and thus turn them into 'les skid pans'. Other road problems include demonstrating farmers, fishermen, civil servants, air traffic controllers, road workers, government officials and farmers….yes, I know I have mentioned farmers twice, they seem to have a set season; arable March to September and non arable September to March.
Good luck Monsieur Beckham.