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One of the most annoying things I find about driving in France is the fact that you don’t actually need to have a driving license to be on the road. “What?!” I hear you say. Well, if you want to drive a normal car and actually get anywhere in a normal time then yes, you need a license, but if somehow you’ve not managed to pass your test or have had your license taken away from you then you can drive one of these:

If you see a car like this be sure to give it a wide berth

Or if that one is a bit to basic how about one of these?

If the first one is too basic how about a nice little convertible?

That’s right, you can still have a car, albeit one that allows you to drive without a license. If you’ve had your license taken away from you say for drink driving, well you can still legally be on the road, drunk and ready to hit a pedestrian, a tree or another car!

This bewilders me. Surely there is a valid reason as to why these people do not have a license?

When I was living in Lyon I had a couple of close calls with these fake cars as I call them. One tried to plough me down on a pedestrian crossing and another carved me up.

Now that I’m living in the countryside it is frequent that I get stuck behind one or have to swerve to miss one. They dawdle at no more than 60 kmh (I think) which is still plenty fast enough to cause damage. Their owners rarely seem to care about other drivers. Indicators? What are they for? Right hand side of the road? No, they can frequently be seen around here wobbling all over the road.

Of course, they are a good method of transport offering independence to those that don’t (or no longer have) a license but to the rest of us they are menace. If they hit a child the consequences could still be fatal.

What to you think? Danger or transport solution?

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So, I’m back from Corsica and will share my adventures with you soon although I’m lucky to be back no thanks to GPS TomTom!!

I often wonder how many marital disputes, family fall outs and accidents are caused by GPS’s giving wrong directions. All the men I know never listen to directions and will certainly never stop and ask for them and yet if I force the TomTom on them they’ll quite happily listen to the soothing voice of Jane (or whoever, I heard you can have the Simpson’s voices if you wish) and then follow her instructions without applying any degree of logic or direction.

When affronted with a rubble road (think The Flintstones here) the Man (or in my case Hubby) becomes enraged and the angry swear words and obscene gestures are directed at TomTom and thankfully not at you. However, this means that the atmosphere in the car becomes heated, with much huffing and puffing, more angry gestures and then silence.

Sometimes the misdirection’s from TomTom won’t matter and laughter will break the silence such as the time we drove through a field on the outskirts of Lyon only to be met by an intrigued farmer coming along on his tractor in the other direction. But it can also be the difference between catching or missing your flight. Going home or being stuck where you are, having to fork out hundreds of Euros (if not thousands in peak season?) to wait until the next available flight which may not be for another week.

This was our case. We left Calvi at 11 am knowing that we needed to be at the airport in Bastia for 3 pm allowing us time to return the hire car and affront the huge queues typical of the last Saturday in July. I wanted to stop by Saint Florent on the way back and according to TomTom it only added 40 minutes to the trip, so in total we would be looking at an overall driving time of 2 hours 20 minutes. Perfect. Plenty of time to get there, to allow for traffic and even enough time to stop somewhere along the way and enjoy some more Corsican food and wine.

All was going hunky dory until we left Saint Florent (this was probably due to the excellent sign posts though) and started along the windy, mountainous roads towards Bastia. These were not dissimilar to those we took to arrive in Saint Florent after leaving the main road, but after a while the pot holes were becoming bigger and bigger, until suddenly there was no road left and we were on a rubble track. Continuing along, convinced we were on a great short cut and were avoiding all the traffic jams, we passed a small hamlet and smiled smugly to ourselves as confused locals looked on in amazement at us bumping along the track in a filthy, dust covered so no longer bright blue, Peugeot 206 hire car.

A short while later we were confronted with this:

Is TomTom having a laugh at our expense?

Yes – that is the road. With the sign in the middle (and the big rock blocking all access behind). There was no way we could (or wanted) to continue further down this road. So rather bashfully we made our way back down the track, back past the villagers (who must be used to this sight and probably have their act of astonishment down to perfection) and then past a Parisian registered Mercedes hurtling in the direction we had originally come from – with a TomTom firmly affixed to his windscreen!

Eventually, an hour later than we had wished for and with just 20 minutes to spare before check-in closed, we made it to the airport and managed to catch our plane home! Phew!

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Photo Credit: Andrew Dunn

Do you remember the dodgem cars? Driving in Lyon today was exactly the same experience! In the past I’ve posted about driving in France, and really I don’t have any authority on the subject as I passed my test here, but still.

I was driving down Cours Vuitton, which is a three lane road lined with swish shops and lush trees. The lovely variety of boutique stores and the best chocolate shop Lyon has to offer (IMHO) mean that double parking is a common occurrence. People literally ditch there cars, double parked with the warning lights on and then go shopping! Heaven! Only, when you’re trying to drive down the street in order to reach an alternative destination it turns an ordinary driving experience into dodgems.

Cars whip in and out, switching lanes constantly; you need four sets of eyes to see where traffic was coming from not forgetting to give way to the right! Not to mention the pedestrians blindly crossing the street in an attempt to reach the next shop. Seriously, it was like being in a game of Mario Karts!

It was actually quite fun after a while and I had to remind myself that it wasn’t a game and these were actually moving vehicles, all traveling over 50km’s (no speed cameras here) and that someone could get hurt if a move was miscalculated. Not only that, but I really didn’t fancy telling Hubby I’d damaged the car. Again.

I was so stressed out by the constant dodging of moving vehicles that I totally forgot to stop at Carrefour to buy ingredients for the dinner. So back home I had a rummage through the fridge to see what healthy meal I could possibly come up with – and rather shockingly, it was actually quite delicious!

What’s in the fridge chicken & courgettes
Serves 2

Chicken
What you’ll need to find:
Two chicken breasts (so these weren’t in the fridge, but in the freezer. Always useful!).
Roquette
Cherry tomatoes (these will soon be growing, so won’t be in the fridge but on the tomato plant)
Garlic

What to do:
Make a pocket on the side of the chicken breast and then stuff with as much roquette and cherry t’s that you can get in. Season to taste. Close the pocket with a pick. Place in a tray greased with olive oil. Add a clove of garlic to the tray (in the oil) to flavour whilst cooking. Cook in over 180 degrees celsius for 30 – 40 minutes or until cooked.

Courgettes:
What you need:
2 Courgettes
Garlic
Lemon Juice
Low Fat St Moret cheese

What to do:
Slice the courgettes, then heat some oil, add chopped garlic, a dash of lemon juice, seasoning and then the courgettes. Cover and cook for a while until courgettes are cooked through. Once cooked, add a teaspoon of St Moret cheese and stir round carefully over a low heat so that the cheese melts and turns creamy.

I didn’t take a photo as I wasn’t expecting it to be tasty (and also my presentation skills have a lot to be desired).

Enjoy!

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