Thursday, September 9, 2010

learning to drive (again)

Well, maybe I'm not so much learning to drive as jumping through some hoops (and costs) to get a French driver's licence. First step is to pass the theory test: le code de la route.

What I have found interesting is going to my "lessons" which are not lessons at all but just a bunch of students in a room who take practice tests on DVD with explanations. There are 60 possible tests to take in order to learn all the information that is required. I would argue that some of the things are not relevant to being a good driver and that much of it is tricky and vague. For example, they show a picture of a country road and ask if it's safe to pass. Personally I see a curve coming up in the photo, so even though the lines on the road say it's safe, I would wait. But no. It's safe to pass and I get the question wrong. But if I didn't pass the car in question, I wouldn't be driving dangerously, but no matter. The trick is to learn the tricks and play by their rules. The test is multiple choice with 40 questions and I'm allowed to get 5 wrong. There can be anywhere from 1 to 3 correct answers per question and if I miss one I get the whole thing wrong. I've got to study up on my percentages, mathematical equations and statistics!

I've also been learning new vocabulary. Some words that I didn't know at first I made up my own silly meanings for, knowing that they weren't correct. Here are some examples:

my definition: something to do with burping or perhaps vomiting
the real definition: a junction or a fork in the road

my definition: delight
the real definition: crime or offence

my definition: ride a horse
the real definition: to lap or cross over (a lane or a line), but to be fair it also means to ride a horse or to sit astride a horse

my definition: the sock of the road (I figured it was the side of the road)
the real definition: the full road surface

my definition: attractiveness
the real definition: speed or pace

my definition: evil, ominous
the real definition: an accident (in case of)

I'm still waiting to find out if my application to apply (yes, that's right) for a driver's licence has been accepted by foreign services. When I get that stamp of approval I can apply to take the test and move on to preparing for the practical test, while continuing to drive about 700 km per week on my Canadian licence!


  1. Just imagine how much more fearless you will be to do things like pass around a curve. It doesn't matter if it's dangerous! You will be right!

  2. Wow! And I thought that Canada was full of beaurocracy but we have nothing on France! I guess they have many more years of practice ;) Good luck with the test!

  3. Ha! Canada does have nothing on France when it comes to administration! We're applying to live in an apartment and we have to show:
    - the past three months' pay stubs
    - an "attestation" from our employers
    - the past three months' rent receipts
    - an "attestation" from our landlord saying that we've paid our rent
    - a tax return for the year 2008
    - my "carte de séjour"
    - proof of our marriage
    When we sign the contract, we will have to pay the deposit (normal) and show proof of house insurance - this is *before* we move in. And we're lucky that we don't have to pay real estate agency fees (very normal for rentals here) or provide a "guarantor" who makes enough money to pay our rent, just in case we can't. Sigh.