French motorways and toll booths
30 January 2012 | Beaucaire
George. Sunny but cold!
We had a hire car last week when my daughter was here, and were able to experience at first hand the peculiarities of the French system of road signage. You would think that a sign for the Airport would be easily visible, and displayed a long way ahead of the turning, but no, all you get is a tiny symbol on a sign located immediately where the turn off is. Too bad if you are in the wrong lane, like we were! We ended up having to onto a motorway until we could turn round and come back, but little did we know that the French had another trick up their sleeve, the motorway toll! So not only were we on the wrong road, we had to pay for the pleasure!
So after about 8 miles going in the wrong direction, we see the traffic slowing down in front of us, and realise it is the Peage or toll booths. But do the French display the prices in advance so you can be prepared and fish out the right number of coins before you actually get there? Of course not! No indication at all of how much to fork out. Not even on the machine itself. So we approach an automatic machine at random, one of those which has the basket thingy you throw coins into, and luckily there is a Madame there in a fluorescent jacket, appearing to be making some adjustment to the barrier.
“C’est combiien, Madame?” I ask. “Sur la pont d’Avignon, le chien est sous la table, la singe est dans le sac blah blah blah “ she replies.
So I bravely throw in 2 two euro coins and hope for the best.
I didn’t realise it didn’t give change, and the barrier wouldn’t open, but Madame Fluorescent was very nice about it, but she then proceeded to dismantle the whole machine to try and return my coin to me. Bearing in mind that we were now going in the wrong direction and going to be very very late in getting to the airport, I didn’t care about the change, and just wanted her to open the gate so we could be on our way. But no, she continued to take apart the machine, and eventually found our coin, which she then re-inserted into the machine and gave us the correct change from another machine, she then had to open another box to operate the lifting of the barrier. I was getting more and more stressed, but eventually we got through the peage.
“Quick, turn round when you can, we’re going in the wrong direction!” I requested of my patient and long-suffering husband, so about 100 yards past the toll booths there was a road junction with a roundabout. We negotiated the roundabout and turned 180 degrees, and then found ourselves back at the same Peage from which we had just left, in order to get back to the junction for the airport. So we paid the same amount for another toll, luckily using the right coins this time, and set off for the airport …….