France Vs Spain (the drivers) / by Lara

  Claude in Barcelona, Spain

Claude in Barcelona, Spain

We’ve clocked 3,000 miles so far in the van. I’ve driven through towns with streets so narrow and balconies so low we just get under them, slowly trundled up mountains with winding roads and sudden drops that give me vertigo, and made it under a bridge that was clearly signposted as lower than our Claude, yet the most stressful driving I’ve been faced with certainly has to be on motorways. 

I’m a terrible passenger, so for everyone’s benefit I am designated driver. Lucky for me, Paul is an excellent passenger who for the most time is an excellent map reader/google map navigator. Me behind the steering wheel also gives us the added bonus of extra storage space behind the seat. Perfect. This has also meant that for 3,000 miles I have been the one dealing with the brunt and blessing of the other road users. 

Driving through France was pretty awful at times. Out of all the places I’ve ever travelled I would say France is definitely up there with most amount of horn honking, not a patch on Mumbai but still super stressful. I’m driving a 15-year-old, long wheelbase, maxi roofed campervan, with 2 kayaks hitched to the roof and (admittedly) way too much stuff, all contributing to weighing the damn thing down. When on a dual carriageway, I’m in the right hand lane travelling at 40mph not because I enjoy going that slow and want to take our time, but because that’s the maximum poor Claude can go. You may be flying passed us beeping your horn, but with the slightest gradient our speed diminishes rapidly and we hope and pray it all flattens out soon. We’ve had Belgium Drivers call me an arsehole, French drivers giving me the finger and at first I admit I was affected by these taunts. But Paul reminded me that there’s absolutely nothing we can do, or that they can do. Apart from maybe throw an apple at them

  Claude after his first mountain climb...

Claude after his first mountain climb...

Is it just me or are there a lot of HGVs in France? Because I seemed to pass so many of them and then of course uphill they would thunder passed me, never abusive but a few frustrated arms signals were given as I tried overtaking them on the descent. If you come across us on your road trip please be aware we have to pick up speed downhill in order to make it uphill! It seems Spain already got that memo though. The drivers have been the polar opposite and in this heat boy am I glad, I’m sweating enough as it is!

In fact, in the 6 weeks we’ve been in Spain I haven’t heard one horn. Folk are just a lot more chilled out it seems, and while drivers seem to be right up Claude’s bum, they don’t seem to mind the pace… I’m not sure they’re even aware! I have even had a few laughs with the HGVs that pass me, and then I pass. Even the huge lorry I pulled out on, on the roundabout didn’t mind (yes I did this. Lara don’t get cocky!)  

I wonder what drivers are like in Portugal?