Today, tomorrow and Saturday are all travel days. Today we drove from Clamecy to Valence and tomorrow we drive to Nice. Saturday we are off to Istanbul.
We have spent the month driving our trusty ride, a Dacia Sandero, all over France. For those of you who have never heard of Dacia, it is a Romanian subsidiary of Renault. We got the car through a program called Auto-TT. For reasons that I don’t really understand there is an incentive to car companies to create short-term leases to non-EU citizens. The leases are tax free as long as they are 21 day or more. For us, it was significantly cheaper than a rental car and allowed us both to drive it. Per the terms of the lease, we “own” the car the for the period of the lease and then simply return it to Renault. Renault provided all the insurance.
A quick recap of our travels included this month:
Paris to Clamecy; Clamecy to Chambery (the Alps); Clamecy to Brugge, Brussel & Chimay (Belgium); Clamecy to Dijon (Mustard); Clamecy to Strasborg (the German border); and now Clamecy to Nice (Côte d’Azur). All in, about 5,000 kilometers (about 3,000 miles).
We have noticed a few things about driving here:
- The majority of the highways are toll roads and they are relatively expensive. The drive to Strasborg cost about €50 ($60) in tolls.
- Gasoline is very very very expensive compared to the US. The average litre of gas has been about €1.70 ($7.50 per gallon).
- The country is much hillier that I expected. We are routinely going up or down 7% grades.
- The roads seem to be either highways (A roads) or two lane “country” roads.
- There are rotaries (traffic circles? roundabouts? rond points) everywhere. In Paris, the cars entering the rotaries have the right of way over those in the rotary; everywhere I have ever driven, the driver in the rotary has the right of way.
- When approaching an intersection, the person on the right has the right of way, unless they have yield or stop sign. That means that if you are on a main road and someone on a side street doesn’t have a traffic sign, you have to let them in.
- I had forgotten how much I enjoyed driving a manual transmission car.
- With the exception of a faulty front radar sensor, the car performed admirably.
We had one recurring issue when driving – buying gas. For some reason, virtually none of the gas stations would accept our credit cards. I checked with our banks and they both insisted that the gas stations were declining the transactions before it was passed to the bank for approval. We ended up using a debit card, which worked everywhere, but at the supermarket. We had the very odd experience of paying for groceries with a card, then having the same card be declined trying to buy gas outside the store. Very odd. When we used the debit card, they initially put a charge of $345 on the card, but then adjusted it to the actual amount in a couple of days.
Tomorrow we will complete our drive to Nice, and then return the car to Renault.
Saturday morning we hop an Turkish Airlines flight to Istanbul.