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Thread: Holiday season: french history

  1. #1

    Default Holiday season: french history

    it became French law in 1936 that every employee must have two weeks paid holiday, another week was added in 1956 and the fourth in 1969. The ability to afford a holiday led to a summer exodus from the major towns and cities- almost all by train, and many people took their bicycles with them! At the end of the 1960's, as more people began to own cars, the holiday migration took more and more to the roads and the road that led from Paris to the Mediterranean coast, the National 7, had a couple of songs written about it: one was by a French comic singer, Charles Trenet, and another by John Renbourn, who used to play with Pentangle. His was from the point of view of a hitchhiker! Nowadays the start of the school holidays (which are staggered into three zones) provoke warnings on radio and TV that there will be bouchons (bottlenecks) at many places and it is possible, via the internet, to look at certain roads in real time. The mapping company, Bison Futé, also advises alternative routes to some popular areas. Last Friday there were 140 kilometres of bottlenecks in the Gironde department, many around Bordeaux where lots of main roads converge onto the ring road: two main routes to Spain and the surfing regions of Hossegor, Bayonne and Biarritz and also to lots of popular camping areas.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    Benoni, 32km east of Johannesburg, Tvl, South Africa


    Thanks for the photos Jane; first one reminds me of my first stay in 1955 (six weeks with a family from Grenoble, although we went everywhere in their family car - he was a doctor, so better-off then many); when it was time for me to go home it was from Grenoble's main station. In 1961 I was old enough to cycle alone when I youth-hostelled and the worst traffic was around Place de l'Etoile in Paris - scary!

  3. #3


    I am living proof that one can forget how to ride a bike: borrowed mine from a friend here and got going but couldn't stop except by steering up a grass bank and jumping off! I have, therefore, never cycled in France except for the road near my house, but have driven on Paris and my scariest place is la Place de la Concorde, at the end of the Champs Elysées. About six lanes of traffic trying to get to diffferent exits: worse than Marble Arch in London,hich I can do! I wasn't driving but was with English friends in their car, so sat in what would normally be the driver's seat. We wanted to go the Eiffel Tower so I just pointed to the road we wanted, said "over there!" and shut my eyes. The driver used to be a London cabbie and he did it with no problem, although the rear seat passnger did whimper once or twice! I heard a few car horns but they were not necessarily aimed at us ;-) We were extraordinarily lucky as there had been showers and there was a rainbow over the tower, which was beautiful and a very rare sight


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