Friday, December 17, 2004

The Parking Spot

I found a nice parking spot on the street outside of my building the other day. It's an end spot so I just pulled into the space. Imagine my surprise when I passed by the car to find this.....

Now grant it, I can just reverse the car and pull out backward, but is it reallly necessary to park on top of my car? The guy has about a foot in front of his car, so it wasn't like he was just squeezing into the spot. I don't know why this bothers me so, I guess because it was unnecessarily aggresive.

-- said Auntie M in Paris
5:56 PM



Have no fear - this is quite usual in France. It doesn't mean anything. It's not personal, any more than lightning is.

Look at the evolution of the vocabulary, by the way. In the not-so-distant past, the word for an automobile "bumper" was "pare-choc". The word is now "bouclier", which translates out to "shield".

So you're shielded. (smile)


# posted by L'Amerloque : 7:54 PM  

oh, girl! I feel your pain!! I saw that picture and it brought back so many memories! My heart goes out to you. Driving in Paris was such an experience...thank goodness we parked ours (for the most part) and just took the subway. I think you are so brave! I think it is amazing that you have adjusted so well!


# posted by Carrie : 7:56 PM  

I would have to say that I would be a bit "peeved" myself. Common Courtesy I say.

# posted by BohemianMama : 9:30 PM  

L'A, You really think that is normal in Paris? We always park on the street and someone parking that close has never happened. But, if you think it happens regularly, I won't take it personally (as I did at the time).
Carrie, Actually, I liken driving in Paris to driving in the Wild West (as I imagine it was) with very few rules and lots of common sense. On a regular basis, driving isn't so bad, but I don't drive often.
BM, That's what I thought.

# posted by Auntie M in Paris : 9:54 PM  

Hi Auntie !

>>You really think that is normal in Paris?

Sure. It's been like that since the 1960s, at least, in my experience. (smile) Nowadays there are painted lines on the pavement, so it should be happening less frequently ... if the French driver pays any attention to the lines, ce qui est une autre paire de manches ...

>>We always park on the street and someone parking
>>that close has never happened.

It's your first time !

>>But, if you think it happens regularly,
>>I won't take it personally (as I did at
>>the time).

The French don't see parking a car (or, for that matter, a great many other things (smile)) the same way as we Americans do. In California, if one parked like that, one could probably expect to be attacked physically. In France, no. I must admit that the first time it happened to me here (196x) I was frothing with anger. (smile)

How close - or how far - away from the nearest car one is supposed to park is just not a parameter for a French driver.

Do prepare yourself: one version of this "hug-parking syndrome" (for want of better words) is when the driver of car that wants to park realizes that a given space is too small for her/his car. So the driver will back up slowly into the space, gently kissing the front bumper of the car behind with her/his rear bumper ... and then stepping on the gas to push the offending car backwards as far as possible so as to free up a little more room in the heretofore too-small parking space. Works every time. Painted lines on the pavement are not a parameter, of course.

If I park a car on a Paris street, I absolutely never leave my car in gear (first or reverse). When the car is pushed as described above, it does the transmission no good. This may surprise you but ... depending on the street I'm parked in (this doesn't pertain to hills, naturally, but only concerns flat areas), I might not even set my parking brake. Many drivers in Paris don't set their parking brake, as you, too, will find out when, desperate to park, you try to enlarge that just-too-small parking space by backing into it and pushing the car behind you (smile). Not setting the brake is even considered a courtesy to other drivers, in some circles (I know how outrageous that must sound, but it's a fact of life, here).

The free-up-some-space manoeuver also explains why more and more people are driving 4x4s in Paris. Only one 4x4 Toyota can really push another Toyota 4x4 … but pushing a Twingo or a Polo is duck soup with any 4x4 (and bye-bye transmission if the little car was in gear …).


# posted by L'Amerloque : 1:21 PM  

A car in Paris! That's where your problem starts! Why do you even need a car for? It's more a pain than anything else, especially when parking comes into the picture.

# posted by Anonymous : 10:30 AM  

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