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Category: travel writing

reminiscing far from home

meet Bleu

Yawn… “Bonjour, my name iz Bleu, or Blue to you anglophones.  But I am not an English bulldog, I am a French bouledogue.  Or, I will be when I grow up.  At ze moment, I am vehry fatigued from reading French License.  So, I go bed now.  Meyhbe next time I show you what I learn.”


from ridiculous to ambitious

First France, now UK, and soon Germany.  All have set a date of 2040 for the transition to no-emissions vehicles.  France fell off their rocker with an outright ban.  The UK’s approach is more moderate.  At least the Brits realised that banning makes current cars worthless, new gas/diesel cars unsellable, and threatens the jobs of nearly a million workers in their country alone.  The new goals are still incredibly ambitious, and will require the concerted efforts of many groups.

read story on

An interesting sidebar to the UK’s announcement is that they want to do away with speed bumps, which provoke severe braking, releasing fine particles into the air.  Road works have scattered bumps all over France, in copious quantities, and gradients to knock your socks off, or at least your bumper and muffler.  This is covered comically in Chapter 26 of French License.


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Frontier Land

They are not long, the days of wine and roses.  Neither are the days of immunity when driving in France with foreign plates.  France claims that twelve countries now exchange information when they catch someone with out-of-country license plates on a moving violation.  Governments will send a notice over the border, in the language of the vehicle’s registration document.

No word yet on how effective this is, because the local authorities don’t get involved where the car is registered.  Clearly France has the most to gain from this exchange.  France has more radars than any country in Europe, the severest penalties for speeding, and a centrally situated land that neighbors must enter or cross to reach vacation and delivery destinations.  Auto taxes and penalties represent a whopping 17% of the total income of the French government.  They want visitors to add to that figure.

The list of tattle-tale territories includes Austria, Belgium, Germany, Spain, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Switzerland.  Notably missing are states on the French frontier, including Britain, Monaco, and Andorra.

Chapters 15 and 42 of French License cover radar cameras in Europe and France’s pecuniary roads.

link in French:


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