What a fab summer it has been! Over 6 weeks of lovely weather here in Devon, surpassed only by the even better weather trolling around France! Went over to the Vendee- that's the left hand bit about half-way down. Lots of Atlantic coast and beaches, inland marshes and flatlands, with forests, chateaux, little picturesque towns, wine, bread, cheese- the whole works. Smashing touring country. 'Course, I almost didn't get to see any of it, thanks to the fool who pulled out on me from a junction to my right whilst I was minding my own business along the main road. Thank gawd for ABS- if it had been my old air-head Beemer with the unique delayed-action brakes, I wouldn't be here now. There was much bad language on my part- it's amazing how your French comes back to you when you really need it. Imagine my astonishment when the invective was returned, with Monsieur Paysan most insistent that yes he had seen me and, zut alors, I was at fault for not letting his old 2CV amble across my path when he felt like it. And here's the rub- he's actually right, at least it seems so in the provinces still.
As my heart rate was slowing back to normal, I began to get a dim and distant memory of exactly the same thing happening to me over 30 years ago, driving my old MG in a small town about 20 miles from Paris. Back then, it had been forcibly impressed upon me that the rule was "priorite a droite"- you give way to traffic coming from your right- and that applied to every piddly little side road that happened to join the main road, giving rise to the utterly ludicrous and lethal situation in which Alfonse's tractor chugs out into your path from the teeny-tiny lane almost invisible in the trees on your right, as you approach at 70mph.
I still find it incredible that such a rule is still followed- I doubt it is in larger towns, but as sure as hell it is in the country, and it gives a frisson of pure terror to riding along the main road. Don't say you haven't been warned, mon vieux…..