Le périph

It’s the busiest road in France. Its 35 kilometres have been taking people in and around Paris since 1973. Le périph, as the the Paris ring road is known, is not the most famous monument in the French capital but it is certainly the most visited. And while it is hardly a beautiful sight, it is a view that many French drivers spend hours looking at each day.

Inauguration in 1973

As I mentioned in my last post, the French are experts in how to ‘contourner‘ or go around things. In this case, it is the city itself.

Many large French cities have boulevards périphériques – Bordeaux, Lyon, Marseille — but the Paris ring road is the biggest and best known. It was built alongside the old fortifications around the city, there since the 1840s to protect the capital from outside invaders — or the rioting French people.

It seems the recent wave of ‘gilets jaunes’ (yellow vests) are only the latest in a long tradition.

A map of the Paris périph with its many exits and the Seine river in the middle

The speed limit on the densely packed périph is limited to 70 km. There are many on- and off-ramps but no safety shoulders, which can make driving on it a hair-raising experience. I once had to do a stretch on the périph to pass my French driver’s test.

I remember thinking that some poor tourists might turn in endless circles around Paris before getting up the nerve to squeeze through its multiple lanes of traffic to exit.

Here’s more info and details on the inner and outer ring roads from Wikipedia.

Do you have a memory of driving on a ring road or ‘périph’?