Monday, July 23, 2012

Signs

One thing that Nathan and I have noticed is that someone in France loves signs. It may be the people, the government, the road builders, or someone else, but there are so many signs in France it is almost unbelievable. I'm not talking about billboards or other advertisements along the road, but rather the road signs that tell you what you need to do or not do. These things are everywhere!

For example, they have an "end of" sign to match every "start of" sign. For instance, every town has a sign that says the name of the town when you enter it. That's a good idea, but then there is a corresponding end of the town sign when you are leaving. This has the town name with a big red stripe through it. Okay, this may make sense so you know you are out of the town. But they do that for everything, including bridges, tunnels, rest areas, and so forth. For instance, if you get off at a rest area, you get a sign to tell you that you are no longer on the highway or you come out of a tunnel and there is a sign you are no longer in the tunnel. Some seem reasonable, but some just seem ridiculous.

They also do something interesting on the exit from the highway. The speed limit on the autoroutes (the biggest highways in France) is 130 km/h. When you take an exit, they don't just tell you that the speed limit on the exit is 50 km/h, the instead "walk you down" from 130 to 50 in 20 km/h increments. Therefore, you'll see a 110 speed limit sign, then a 90, then a 70, and finally a 50. It's very wierd.

I've already talked about how the signs direct you from town to town. Sometimes they have so many towns to direct you to, they need to split it up onto more than one sign. We saw this a few times on the way to Paris.

They even have some signs ready to go on the off chance that a car or truck breaks down in the left lane on the highway. I guess if this happens, you need to get out of your car or truck and go flip this sign out so people know the road in front of them is blocked. I guess this is a good thing to know, but does this sort of thing happen enough to warrant such a sign? (Perhaps I have the purpose for these signs wrong and actually they get used all the time and are super important.)

Anyway, French drivers must be the best informed drivers anywhere in the world if the number of signs is any indication!

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