Wednesday, 23 May 2012

On the Road Again

It was time to take up my courage and start the process of buying a car all over again. After a disastrous foray into buying an unsuitable car off my boss a few months after I arrived in France, I'd lost all confidence in anything to do with a car, and most particularly, in driving. So 19 months after my first car ownership fiasco I was working towards a better second attempt. This would have been impossible without the help of Jean-Claude. Firstly, I could never have even visited a car on offer as I had no transport. Secondly, my French language ability is still too weak to negotiate or organise documentation via the phone.

I searched the internet. JC made the phone calls and drove me around. After half a day visiting all the concessionaires in Cafeolait it was clear I'd never get anything from a car sales yard. My budget was much too small. I wanted something I could 'feel around me', something easy to park, something cheap, something that had a WOF, something in a low mileage, something cheap. I found something that met most of those requirements, a Peugeot 206 2-door 1.3l 2000 model with rather battered bodywork.

It needed a controle technique (WOF)before it could be sold and it didn't pass-a problem with the muffler and emissions so that had to be repaired by the owner. I waited. The owner then had to have the car rechecked. I waited. His mother died in Turkey. I waited another two weeks. I was on tenderhooks wondering if I'd have to start the painful process of finding, trialling and waiting all over again for another car.

Finally the day came when JC drove me to Champhol to collect the car and I got to drive in France on my own for more than 5 minutes. I followed JC to his place. After 40 years of driving but nearly two years not driving in France I was nervous but survived. A week later I had driven myself all the way from JC's place to mine and found a park. This week I've been driving myself to and from work and looking for free parks near my studio for over-night. Yes, my new friend is my car. It will change my life as I develop confidence in driving in France. It's going to take a while getting used to the layout of everything on the left. I still have right-hand reactions when I reach for my seatbelt or the indicators. Tomorrow I must make a huge leap in competence and confidence and drive off the beaten tracks to somewhere I have never been, an hour away, with no GPS.
Tonight I'm researching the route and it's changing highways. My car is automatic (a rarity in France) so I can concentrate on where I'm going and all the different road signs I must come to grips with. My road code book is very helpful but there are a lot of signs and situations that don't exist in NZ. Like alternating days of the week for parking on your side of the road. I wonder if I'll see a sign alerting me to the dangers of wandering squirrels... well they've got a sign for everything, it seems. Fingers crossed my car and I survive tomorrow's trips intact. I'm attending a workshop involving state-of-the-art visual communication technology.


yves said...

It's not soo difficult to buy a car.
You must be very difficult for choice a car.

For your security, hiding the car number on the pictures, before put on your blog!

Post a Comment

I welcome your comments, contributions and feedback.