We just spent the (second) May bank holiday weekend driving around Normandy, France (which was lovely, more on that later). In preparation for the trip we did what every generation x-er would do and, (the night before the trip) went straight to Google maps, entered our start and end point and voila Google planned our trip! We quickly scanned the directions agreeing they looked legit transporting us from point A to point B on some fancy French highways, toll roads and around quite a few of those ingenious roundabouts (still not sure why we waste electricity on intersections with stop lights when whizzing through roundabouts is so much more fun).
Anyhoo we got our hire car once we arrived in France, followed the directions out the parking lot and straight on to a roundabout that shot us out on this nicely paved empty highway. We were excited to see that the speed limit was 130km per hour -except of course in rain when you have to slow down to 110….seriously? 110 in rain? can’t imagine what the French think when they come to Canada and are advised to go 100km/h on flat dry non treacherous pavement, (mon dieu, I can allée faster). Anyway we took off on this lovely highway and were greeted by our first toll booth (guess this is what google meant by a toll road), we slowed down slightly to grab the ticket and were off again (hubbie comparing it to a Formula 1 pit stop – clearly he was enjoying this increased speed limit).
After about 100km we hit the toll collection booth, hubbie handed in our ticket while I dug through my bag of euro cents left over from previous trips. We were both equally surprised when the toll lady said €6.95…WHAT? I was expecting €2 -3. I reluctantly handed over a 10 Euro note and we sped on. ….until the next pit stop. Ticket in hand we arrived at the next booth, another €6.50 for the privilege of traveling on this next stretch of road. We carried on past yet another toll booth which wasn’t even a booth it was a bucket you were to throw €0.50 for some unknown reason. We did, and carried on.
Finally, we approached this amazing looking (very high, very steep) bridge. As we marveled at the very high, very steep slope we were driving up, we arrived at the top to see the dreaded toll booth at the bottom…I knew there had to be a catch – these fancy bridges don’t just build themselves. Anyway this was another €5.00 which brought our toll road total to €18.95!! We considered picking up a hitch hiker to help subsidize the costs (coincidentally we did see about 3…do people really travel like that? Haven’t they heard the stories of the murderers who pick you up and don’t have inside door handles so you are stuck in there forever?? or was that just what my mom told me?…)
Anyway on our way back I was much better prepared, I had my Euro cash in hand as we approached the first booth only there wasn’t a toll guy (or girl) there. The booth had been taken over by a bunch of people with a big white bed sheets spray painted with some big French words (that I am pretty sure weren’t taught in my grade 10 French class) jumping up and down screaming and waving us through the gate. We smiled, waved and carried on through, hubby already happy at our €6.95 savings. Sadly the next booth hadn’t been overtaken by bed sheet toting pyromaniacs but we figured we couldn’t complain. Little did we know the best bit was yet to come…
As we approached the amazing bridge we got to the top and saw a pile of burning tires…could our favourite protesters be there?? As we got closer we noticed they had also somehow made these toll guards disappear and not only were they waving us through (hubby already smiling and calculating a savings of €11.95) but they handed us two bags of frozen fish…after consulting my French English dictionary I found that the fish was cod meaning not only had we saved over €11 today but we were up 24 fillets of frozen cod. Vive la France as they say!