Car Rentals and Roundabouts in France

May 8, 2013 @ 7:13 pm
posted by Sandra Sheridan

Auto rentals in France

Don’t be afraid to rent a car to explore France; but as daring as we can be, we definitely skipped driving in Paris.  Rent a bike.  Walk.  Take the Metro or a bus.

You need only look at the photo of Paris’ most famous roundabout – The Etoile at the head of Champs-Elysées (and Place Concorde at the foot of said boulevard is every bit as ‘interesting’!)  Need we say more?

When driving in France, roundabouts (rond-points) provide mystique, madness and mirth.  These efficient traffic control designs become less so, unless you understand the rules.  You must employ rapid reflexes to flip from gas to brake, and you must have a clear fix on direction.

Generally, one gives absolute priority to the right at each and every intersection, where it is remotely possible for a vehicle to turn into your path from a side highway, street, lane or drive.  No excuses allowed, my friends.  Any collision with a vehicle arriving from your right is indisputably your fault.

Except.  The French love exceptions to the rule.  That brings us to priorities in the roundabout.  Forget the first rule.  The Anglo might reason that if you are on the outside of the circle of traffic, you would have the priority to exit.  Wrong.  The guy in the 30-year-old Citroen, decorated with the dents of old traffic wars, has the right to cross in front of you from the center of the circle.  To be perfectly clear, watch out and be prepared to brake or give it the gas, should one of these inner circle demons race suddenly across your path.

Finally, the design and signage of roundabouts require either careful advance study of your directions or immeasurable patience.  We are not the only ones in the world to go around two or three times, before discovering which exit to take.  Direction Marseille or Paris?  What?  I’m going to Rouen.  No difference.

The signs will show either the next small village or the grand city some 500 kilometers to the North.  Add to your confusion the speed and aggression of the roundabout drivers; and you will understand the suggestion to either prepare or relax and circle as often as needed, until you figure it out.

Stay tuned, as we soon will offer excellent information about Auto Europe and buy-back programs.

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