On the way to Sunday brunch many roads on our route were closed and secured by police, stationed at the corners. We zig-zagged through the city and finally found a road wide open.
Suddenly we noticed a throng of cars and marchers behind us. What in the world have we gotten ourselves into? We were leading this great group of people for some blocks until we reached our turn.
Our friends already at the resteraunt informed us that the streets of Paris had been closed for a Worker's Demonstration!
This was not my first experience with the Revolutionary French, a group of students had a strike on the bus during one of our trips to LA and there was a transportation strike the first time I arrived in France. It was quite interesting to experience the passion freely expressed by the French people. This demonstration made my day!
I guess we all agree on this on; there is nothing more exciting than going travelling - exploring another country, experiencing a different culture, travelling around in new ways, sampling the local cuisine and chatting to the local people for a different perspective on life.
However during our travels we learned that there is one certain thing that you should be aware of and prepared for to make sure that the trip is as easy and enjoyable as possible. We always try to see everything once we're there, but this is not always an act of responsible travelling. We always talk to the locals and we know that they have the information about just the right spots to visit and how to undertake them. It will not only enhance your experiences but also avoid any unnecessary hassles.
For me the travel tips I have written down in this section made the most of mine travel experience and I came home in the same happy, healthy state that I left.
Parking in Paris is more than just something you learn for your driving test, then forget because there are spacious carparks. In Paris, if you can’t reverse park your vehicle into a space not more than a smidgin longer than the vehicle itself, you just may have to drive around forever! Fortunately, everyone else has the same problems, so a spirit of cooperation often emerges.
These three photos, taken while we were dining at a bistro with another VTer, illustrate the point. The first photo shows a supreme optimist, trying to reverse into a space I’d have thought shorter than the car. The motorcycle owner comes along and, in the second photo anxiously assesses the possible outcome for his motorcycle. That cooperation I was mentioning comes to the fore, and in the third photo he has moved the motorcycle back to give more space.
As I said though, parking is where you can find it – and if your vehicle is small enough, it’s almost anywhere! The fourth photo shows a typical mixture of parking on the footpath, with bicycles, motorbikes, a Smart car, and even a quad motorcycle. Interesting to see the latter in road use, in Australia quad motorcycles are not street legal!
The craziest roundabout I have seen so far: the one around the Arc de Triomphe on Place Charles de Gaulle...no road signs at all...
It's not easy to find your way here...locals are also struggling as you can see :)
People in Paris tenk to park their "voitures" just like this: wall to wall, car to car, bumper to bumper. That is why all of the cars have scratches, damages, bent number plates...
Be very careful when parking your car in Paris, try to fit it between 2 columns or trees, so no one can bump into you! :)
Motorcycles are everywhere – seeing them parked in lines on the sidewalk, you’d think that the Hell’s Angels were in town. Where the Dutch have bicycles, Parisians have motos and velos. They sometimes drive down the sidewalk.
Les Parisiens are not big on regulations. You can almost see the Gallic shrug. Motorists park wherever they please: facing in either direction, half on the sidewalk, and on corners, sticking out into the intersection. Their motto seems to be, “If there’s no parking space there, make one of your own.”
Pedestrian signals (little red man standing still, little green man walking) exist only as loose suggestions. The little red man means “You may have to dodge cars.”
Literally, this means "the corks"-- figuratively, it is the word for "traffic jam." A local Parisian custom is sitting in hideous traffic.
This is a view from my morning commute. Cars to the right of me want to cross and turn left-- and cars to the left of me want to cross and go straight. Forget any manners and politeness. Pretend that no one else exists. Continually play "chicken."
A note to Americans: forget just about everything you learned about driving laws. On the circles, the cars entering the circle have the right of way-- not the cars already on the circle (unless there is a sign advising you to the contrary). The same holds true on many major highways-- the car entering on the entrance ramp has priority over the cars already on the highway. Because many tourists drive and do not realize this, things can get a bit hairy at times.
There is also a law "priorite a droite"-- if there are no stop or yield signs at an intersection, the car to your right has priority. This is relatively rare in Paris, but there are still a few surprise intersections where this is the case. Don't be surprised when a car shoots out in front of you from your right.
I guess the best advice is "Don't be surprised by anything."
Even better advice: Take public transportation.
drive the tiniest car you can find and park it in a spot along the street which you might think, upon initial inspection, would fit a postage stamp or two...but to your utter amazement, fits that vehicle of yours, barely. then just don't ever plan to move it.
Drivers on the Champs-Elysees seem to delight in rushing at you as you attempt to cross the street. Be careful crossing here as the drivers are like demons!
If you are already going in Paris, you noticed certainly that the Parisian driver is often aggressive. Horn and coarseness: it is a practice here! Don't be surprised.
If You will rent a car in Paris, be sure, that you can lift it from the ground, when you want to get it from the parking lot (see the picture). Parking density is really high in Paris. :-)