Thursday, 16 August 2007

Driving in the Chamonix Valley

There appears to be a few unwritten rules for driving around Cham and the valley that I thought I'd jot down as a useful reference for anyone coming here and choosing to take to the road.

These should be left on full beam all the time, day and night. You can't be too careful now can you. Some may argue that getting blinded by a set of halogen beams burning directly into your retina whilst negotiating narrow, winding mountain roads could be construed as dangerous. These people obviously do not take the appropriate measures of closing your eyes and driving by instinct until the oncoming dazzling array of light has passed. Yellow headlights are de rigour for any French car built pre 1988 and show that not only are you a local, but you are also hardcore in your choice of transport and not swayed by modern advertising encouraging the purchase of some nasty plastic car to motor around in.

The use of these is purely optional. Sudden violent swerving of your car down a turn-off should serve as sufficient notice for all other road users of your intention of changing direction. Pedestrians, cyclists, scooters, motorbikers and invalid carriage drivers should retain a third eye for any sudden movement in their peripheral vision warning of this. Indicators can also be used to signify potential future intent of other activities - a shopping stop, flying into the bank quickly, handbrake turn, sliding on ice.

These should be renamed "free-for-alls". Don't hesitate about stopping on them, and for god's sake don't indicate - that's a public sign of weakness. The general philosophy is to approach cautiously and then gun the motor aiming for a gap as wide as a midgets arse between two cars currently riding the concrete carousel. Screeching tires mean that you're really using the roundabout and not just mincing around it as part of some stupid traffic control system.

The ideal driving position you should be aiming for is sat somewhere on the rear seats of the car in front. Don't worry a jot about being so close that the other driver feels like you're a colonic parasite, go ahead and get your full beams on for the best effect. Bumpers are there to be used, not ignored.

Corners and narrow mountain roads should be attempted at warp factor 9. Straight pieces of road around 0.08 km/h. You should alternate between your highest and lowest speeds in the shortest amount of time. Whilst driving through town try to stop occasionally to peruse the latest sales in the shops and wave a casual hand at the trail of traffic behind to let them know you're only going to move when you're good and ready. Show them who's boss.

Should be attempted anywhere regardless of signage or road markings. The middle of the road is acceptable so long as you put your hazard warning lights on. With hazard lights on you are truly free to experiment with where you can leave your car. Pavements can be used at any time of the day or night for any length of time. No need for hazard lights as these are officially recognized slots. When approaching a potential car parking slot, make sure to look over and appraise the potential site extremely thoroughly. Parking is a an art form and should never be rushed.

I hope this helps with your road-goings in the valley.