Monday, February 20, 2012

Mon cycle au Mont Saint-Michel et à l'arrière

The first thing one notices when cycling in France is that everything you've heard is true - the French do appear to like cyclists. Unlike England and Ireland drivers here are courteous, patient and respectful of their fellow road users. In just nine hours of cycling in France during the past two days, I am truly converted and am now looking forward to cycling here, during my tour, more than ever.

In England and Ireland motorists appear to make it their goal to pass a cyclist as close as they can and as fast as they can. Here, motorists slow down as they approach you and give you as much room as they can when they pass. If a car is coming towards us, they wait for it to pass before they attempt to overtake. Unlike English and Irish motorists who seem to need to squeeze past forcing the cyclist closer towards the pavement. Also, when cycling through towns and villages, the French motorist will again slow down and will follow you through the village if there are blind corners. Whereas, in England and Ireland, motorists will again attempt to squeeze pass but, as some of their car inevitably ends up on the opposite side of a blind bend, if something does then appear up ahead they will cut back in as quick as they can often forcing the cyclists to brake. In the past two days I have not heard a single French car horn being used or heard a single utterance of "Get on the pavement" or "Move over dickhead" (wasn't that a Tracey Ullman song?). It makes the task of cycling so much more pleasant when you don't have to think for motorists too!

I now understand why it is often said that the English don't like the French. It is because the French are much better drivers than the English and, as with so many things, the English hate to think that they are not the best at something/everything! They have a lot to learn, but I'm sure they won't, as they don't care about anyone else on the road other than themselves and anything that halts their most speedy progress from A to B is a hindrance.

In short, cycling in France is everything I had imagined it to be and I can't wait for May to arrive when I will be doing it everyday.

Today I cycled to Mont Saint-Michel and back. Here are some pics from my cycle today. I hope you enjoy :)

Still some way to go yet.

Now, that's what I call a cycle path!

The final approach.

Up close and personal.

One is spoilt for choice with cycling signage over here...

Just to prove I am actually here ;)

En route home. It looks all tiny again now.

Almost home. Mont Saint-Michel seems so far away now...over there on the left, all small like.

View Larger Map
My Aunt paints (she used to be an art teacher). Here is a canvas painting of Mont Saint-Michel. Cracking!


  1. Maybe they are more patient because their roads aren't so overcrowded!

    1. The reasons are unimportant, the facts speak for themselves.

  2. Hi,
    I have just found your blog and have linked in as a follower....
    I was interested in your comments on the French drivers...I've been cycling in France regularly for over 40 years and would agree with everything that you have said as well as your thoughts on English drivers....

    I was cycling in France twice last the spring I was in the area where you are currently riding and end of August through to the latter part of September I rode from Gibraltar back to the UK.

    Also like you I am one for setting little cycling targets. Last year it was 10,000 miles. Unfortunately I failed by 600 miles mainly due to having to stop riding for a month due to medical reasons...still, I am having another attempt this year. I had cancer a couple of years ago, so I feel really lucky that I can still indulge in my lifelong passion for cycling.

    I will be back out in France again this year at the end of April and early May....
    I look forward to following your own adventures over the coming months......
    Who knows...we might even meet up on the road somewhere.


    1. Thank you Trevor, I really appreciate your comments and am glad I am not the only one who has noticed the varying quality of European driving abilities :)

      I wish you well with your cycling and hope your recovery is going well.

      We must compare notes and see if we will be cycling in the same area. Meeting up would be great!

  3. Is Hilary giving you one of her paintings as a memento of your cycling week in France?