Grammar's Travel travel blog

Autoroute stress

Grammar and I whizzed across France today from Chartres, SE of Paris, to Fielbingert in Germany. This was about 630 km travelled largely at 130 km/hr; however it took us 8 hours because Grammar had to stop and stretch, drink coffees, snack, and nap on the way.

We discovered that we have almost mastered the very complex toll booth system in France. The big, fast roads are almost all toll roads. Every section of every route seems to operate differently. Grammar managed to mess up several times.

In some places, if you follow the lane with the green arrow, you pick up a ticket stamped with time and place of start. That is pretty easy. When you get to a place where you have to pay (which seems pretty random but may relate to a new district), it not so easy. Grammar went to a place where you stuck in the ticket and then a credit card. The machine spit out the card, saying it did not work and then spit out the ticket, which seemed to fall under the car. Grammar was too close to the machine and could not get out and could not back up because there was a truck and then many cars behind her. The driver behind came and looked under the car for the ticket and then poked at the machine and finally said we had to push the distress button. We did this and the distant voice told us to put cash into the machine, which we did and we escaped.

The next time we had to pay, we took a different lane, one marked with a "T", which Grammar thought was "through transit". We got stuck there because we needed a special type of ticket and nothing else works. Again we pushed the distress call button and a nice lady came and took some money.

The third time, we spotted a sign in advance of the toll booth that showed credit cards. We though that looked easy. We followed the lane with that sign. The machine did not like Grammar's VISA. We again talked to a distress voice (as usual we had a big lineup of cars behind us) who said we should try all our other cards. Apparently these machines don't like Canadian cards. Eventually another nice lady came and took more money from us.

Occasionally when you go through a "peage"/toll booth, like the big bridge over the Seine River in Normany, you have to pay money right away. Sometimes, you can pay with a credit card but other times you must have cash.

The morals:

Expect the unexpected at the toll booths in France;

Don't follow Grammar on a lane into a toll booth.

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