Outre-Manche

Outre-manche

We are just back from a few days outre-Manche and I thought I’d share a few impressions of England as seen by a Frenchified anglo.

We heard so much French spoken on the streets at first we thought we were still in Paris. I had read of London being France’s 6th largest city, but it still came as a surprise.

We had booked a small hotel in South Kensington, which I later learned is home to the Lycée Français and an area known as ‘Little Paris’. It was election Sunday, and in the afternoon there was a long queue of voters on the street. Can you tell these people are French? I got very good at sussing them out before they said a word.

Lycée Français

In the bar where we went to toast Macron’s sweep to victory the waitress was also – quelle surprise! – French. Like most French people we met, she was relieved to have escaped an extreme-right government but a bit concerned about being sold to the highest bidder by a former banker.

There was no restaurant in the hotel so we went out for sustenance in the morning – and found ourselves enjoying continental breakfast at the French bakery ‘Paul’. (We made the mistake of a full English one morning at the local pub which part of the ‘Fullers’ chain and it was truly awful – powdered eggs!).

I love London, so our few days there were a treat. Thanks to Osyth (of the excellent blog Half-Baked in Paradise) for suggesting the tour of Spencer House – it was a fascinating glimpse inside a privately owned palace.

Still, I was surprised at how scary the streets were. Not because of terrorists or muggers, but rather because of the lack of clear rules for pedestrians. First of all, there is the issue of the side (left, wrong or otherwise). No matter how many times I crossed the road, I could never be sure which direction the traffic was coming from, so found myself like a terrified extraterrestrial, head wildly turning in all directions before placing a tentative foot on the street. While some areas were marked, others had no indication at all and it was unclear if we had any right of passage.

It seemed that there were signs and ramps for the disabled everywhere, but few or no signs for pedestrians. Not that the disabled don’t deserve the help, but surely we don’t want everyone to end up in a wheelchair?

Wheelchair

I was not exactly inspired by confidence when crossing this bridge.

We left London for the countryside near Nottingham, where we visited our daughter the future veterinarian for a few days. Everywhere we went, I was struck by how explicit the signs were.

Were you raised in a barn?

I’m not sure the fine will deter many.

Signs like these are worthy of a Monty Python sketch.

And in case you’re looking for the bins by the church…

God save the Queen!

Have you seen any good signs lately?

 

 

 

 

28 thoughts on “Outre-Manche

  1. These are funny!
    I do like “nids de poule en formation,” which was at the entrance to town for nearly 10 years. At a change of mayor, the road finally was repaved and the sign removed. However, for the longest time I thought the sign meant some exotic protected hens were nesting along the roadside and not to be bothered.

    1. No kidding! I only recently learned this which made me seriously reconsider a road trip in your fair land. I fear neither hubs nor I would be up to the switch as drivers! 😦

      1. I’ve been driven in right-hand drive countries, but I’d be scared stiff of driving there as well. We do have good public transport though. 🙂

  2. I wish I could load a picture here! I have a few silly signs in my files. But other than silly ones, the most frequently seen cause for ‘ahhh’ on road signs outside the towns and cities is ‘ducks crossing’ now isn’t that just cute?

  3. In a small old street in Paris was a somehow mysterious sign saying “Défense de courir” .
    Below a smartass had added “Sous peine de poursuites” . I never forgot this one .
    (“Sous peine de poursuites” is the wording adopted for “under threat of prosecution”)

      1. From zipfslaw, the picture on top of this page is for Aliens what I suppose to be a “very French” road signing :
        “https://zipfslaw.org/2016/04/27/bilingual-dictionaries-how-to-pick-them-how-to-use-them/”

  4. Very interesting way of presenting London through its more unusual signs…As for driving on the “wrong side”…you get used to it or at least that is what Pierre says as I have never done it. The worst is going backward and then getting back in traffic as you often chose the real wrong side of the road. Pierre had a few mishaps the last time we drove on the left in Ireland…fortunately, there wasn’t too much traffic and it was easily corrected.

    1. Pierre is indeed a brave fellow! I doubt that either my husband or I would feel comfortable going forward on the ‘wrong’ side, never mind in reverse! And those roundabouts!

  5. When I moved to France my biggest fear was of driving on the wrong side (we drive on the right in Britain so it follows that everyone else is wrong) …. but I managed fine even though I drive a right hooker (these days fully matriculated to French) and I don’t worry when I drive back to Britain. Mind you, I’m due back in July so this might be famous last words but thus far …. the signs are a hoot and I’m very pleased you enjoyed Spencer House – it’s a little jewel. X

    1. I never considered myself in any way dyslexic, but that would definitely be beyond my ability! I guess I’m just a natural ‘wrong sider’! 😉

  6. I love London also, and have visited there while living in San Francisco and now while living in Boston. I agree with you-I’ve never felt safe there as a pedestrian!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s