Suggestions for Bicycling in France
Here are some suggestions for non-French cyclists, from an American point of view:
- Learn to speak, understand, and read French. Even with a good map you may have to ask for directions or information, especially in a town.
- Learn some of the French vehicle code, for example:
- it is illegal to make a right turn on a red light in France.
- at an unmarked intersection, the vehicule entering to your right has the right of way, even if you are on a more heavily trafficked road.
- in a traffic circle, the vehicles already in the circle have the right of way.
- Be aware of the French driving mentality, for example:
- the French often do not respect the center line or marked lanes and often drive in the middle of the road.
- they take their turns wide, therefore, do not take your turns wide (especially right turns), as you risk danger from an oncoming vehicle that you won't see until it is too late.
- their personal space is smaller than that of Americans (for example), so you may feel that they are crowding you, when, in fact, it is normal for them. Note that the roads in France are much smaller than what Americans are used to.
- Road signs are often posted so as to be visible from only one direction, often the direction from which you are not coming. If you miss a road sign in a town, turn around and approach the town from the other direction.
Note to Americans: The hotels in the French countryside and small villages are not luxurious. Often, the entrance is through the bar. There is usually a sink (lavabo) in the room, but there may not be toilets or showers—in this case, there will be common facilities for several rooms. Soap and shampoo are not provided, so always carry your own. Hotels usually have a restaurant. Do not expect the hotel keepers to speak or understand English.
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