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Hoses of the Holy in the Parallel Universe

December 23, 2005

Those Crazy Frenchies

Today's shock news is that the French are to change their "rational" system of car number plates.

I find this strangely upsetting. Apparently, it's considered a waste of money that, if you move house to a different département, you have to change your number plate. But as far as I'm aware it's one of the many laws that most French people ignore, unless they are forced into it - at least until it's time to buy the annual road tax disc.

My in-laws live in the 70 département, Haute-Saône, which is a bit like the French equivalent of Bedfordshire: least visited county. Up the hill in Auxelles Bas, though, the number plates are Belfortian: 90. Belfort, like Paris, has a number all to itself, although the Territoire de Belfort does take in surrounding villages.

We don't play the boring number plate game with our kids in the car - they've been too young for stuff like that till now - but I do like to be aware of the kind of people in front of me. For example, contrary to what the BBC article suggests, Parisians tend to drive like nutters wherever they are. The other thing is, if you're stuck behind something slow, it's sometimes of comfort to know it's a local that you're following, which means they're likely to turn off sooner rather than later.

Anyway, changing the whole system just to save the expense of changing plates when you move is crazy. Why not just register the car once (like the hire companies do) and then keep the same plate regardless of where you end up living?


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