Much has been written on Insiders about avoiding driving in places like Paris, London or Rome. The last time I was in Rome, when I wasn't walking about the city or using Rome's metro/regional train system, I was being chauffeured in a hired car by my brother-in-law, who handled it effortlessly. So much so in fact, that I thought to myself, "I could totally do this."
That was in 2012. Presently, I am in Paris with my Mom. Our current stay is at the Courtyard Boulogne-Billancourt (great little place; I'll write more on it later) just outside of Boulevard Périphérique. I rented a car just to take us to the Loire Valley for the day, but since the rental agency was closed on weekends, I ended up having the car for 3 days, thus opening up some opportunities which I'll expand on later. Well, you probably know where this is leading... After a couple of days of driving in France and in the Paris suburbs, I got brave, and this evening on our way back from Chateau Fontainebleau (and because I have to turn the car back in tomorrow morning), I said to my Mom, "How 'bout a loop around the ole Luxor obelisk at Place de la Concorde and a cruise down the most beautiful avenue in the world?" Her response was, "Need I even reply?" Before I knew it, we were doing laps around Place de la Concorde and l'Arc de Triomphe And laughing our heads off. Who hoo! So then we decided well, how about Place de la République and Place Bastille and then the next thing you know, we were circling around la Madeleine and Garnier Opera House (where I paid silent homage to jerrycoin as we drove by Café de la Paix.) Back down the Champs-Élysées, then left on rue Marbeuf and we found ourselves at our favorite Paris casual Italian dining spot. I parked the car in underground parking, and we finally got to relax and enjoy a well earned meal while discussing the day's activities and my triumph over the roads and streets of both Paris and France at large.
I felt like a real champ! (Okay, what I really felt like was one little - ahem, first word starts with 'B', second word starts with 'A' and no, I'm not referring to British Airways, .)
So well the point is, I learned that for me anyway, it's no big deal, and in fact I really feel like I know Paris even better than ever and the increase in knowledge of the city grew exponentially in a very brief amount of time because of it. I am quite comfortable and even confident driving in Paris it turns out.
What about others? Have you driven in Paris, Rome or London, or any other big foreign cities where the driving is what we would consider to be an "exercise in terror?" Please tell us about it. I'd love to read some stories. Don't be shy, dish it up Insiders!
I know, I know without the photo, it never happened... These aren't great (it turns out that Champs-Élysées cobblestones make for a vibratious ride, and yes I just invented a new word, I think - vibratious. ), but they're what weve got.