As I type, photographs are dropping from my camera onto my laptop, about 500 of them between 3 cards I think. I have been in Brittany, for two days.
I love Brittany – most people who know me, know this. But it has to take some rare form of crazy to go there for just 2 days. I needed to take photographs of different but familiar things. It’s the easiest place to go. I’m not going to talk about photography though; I’m going to talk about what it was like to drive there on Saturday night in particular.
I have done a reasonable amount of driving in France, and around Brittany in particular. If I’m there for longer than a day I typically hire a car. Somehow, however, I’d never managed to drive in the conditions I was driving in on Saturday. It was dark, and more to the point, it was teeming with rain. I was driving on the RN165, which is a dual carriageway. I was travelling west to Quimper.
When I say the weather was atrocious, I am not understating how heavy the rain was. But here’s the thing. It was the single worst journey I have ever driven.
I like France. I love Brittany. But road markings there are pitifully bad. The exit signs are white and blindingly reflective. They make the road disappear for a while when you are approaching one. There are no cats eyes and the road markings, the white lines are impossible to see. There were stretches of that road where I honestly had trouble identifying what, if any lane, I was in. I just couldn’t see the road.
France is – on a certain level – trying very hard to improve its fairly abysmal road safety record. Sarkozy I think claims to have halved the fatal accident rate. But they could do a whole lot to improve things on the road markings front. Edge of road markings and centre line markings are impossible to see when it is dark and raining. The exit signs really should be a non-white colour so as not to be blinding and not to be impossible to read.
On the plus side, off the main road, nearly ever village appears to have a 30kph zone. All the school areas are 30kph, for example.
One other thing to note: Quimper has more roundabouts than any other city I have ever been in, including Limerick.