A Driving Force

So I’m sitting at my computer when the doorbell rings. To my surprise, when I open the door, there is a gendarme standing there. They are a different class than policemen, actually, trained to do all sorts of things mainly in the countryside and are under the military department. They investigate crimes like the police and help with saftey matters. However, my heart beat sped up and I wondered what either Maurice or I had done wrong just like when you see a police car behind you in your rear view mirror, even though you aren’t speeding-or at least, not at the moment.


This isn’t actually a statue of a gendarme, it is de Gaulle, but their hats are rather like that.

So, how did this gendarme end up at our door? It goes back a couple of months ago when we received a speeding ticket in the mail from one of those camera devices that track speeding cars as they pass by. In fact, there is a sign right before the speed detector telling you that it is there but we, that is, Maurice, have gotten two tickets there. Maurice asked me if I would take the blame for the second ticket. I have a Texas driver’s license and an International one. I agreed so Maurice sent a check in to cover the cost along with information on me. We got the check returned to us because it didn’t agree with their records and that was when the gendarme showed up. I almost expected him to cuff me but instead we had to go to the office in a nearby town the next day where he filled out reams of papers, zeroxed my driver’s licenses and then Maurice had to write another check. I was told that I needed to get a French driver’s license if I was here in France for more than 6 months in a row. I am here more than that but in order not to have to take, and pay for, the dreaded French driving test, I may stay in the States for six months. Really. I’m too old to go through that trauma. Maurice’s niece told me that I could buy one in Paris for 1000 Euros or so. I don’t think so.


11 thoughts to “A Driving Force”

  1. Ah – bureaucracy – they will always find you, won’t they?
    I had to get a new license when I moved from one state to another state of Australia!
    I say, blame Maurice – if he hadn’t tried to be sneaky, you wouldn’t have to be “grilled by the cops”!
    Is that what they did to your car for punishment?

  2. Just one thing to be careful about – if you ever get into an accident, your insurance company can refuse to pay out since you do not have a valid license. That was the one thing that really scared me into taking the French test. I mean, you can drive as defensively as you want, but you can’t control how others drive and some of these French people can get pretty crazy!

  3. Oh, I thought you were going to say they found your stolen wallet from May! Tant pis… do they offer bilingual driving school classes here in France to coach you through the process of taking the test? Just wondering…

  4. Goodness! They must have lots of time on their hands if they come right to your door!

    If you can get through all you’ve gotten through, Linda, a French driving test will be a piece of cake. I say, go for it.

  5. Did Maurice ask to see the photo first? If it was a forward facing camera they can tell if it is a man or woman driving. As for the driver\’s licence, it is the same all over the EU. More than 6 months in the country continuously and you need a licence for that country. I would imagine it\’s the same for the US. Still, I\’m sure if you take a French driving lesson they will teach you how to park at ridiculous angles on street corners or how sounding your horn continuously helps get traffic jams moving:-)…or is that just in Paris?

  6. They told me the same in the USA and I never got my american driver’s licence . They are not supposed to know you have been living here more than 6 months !!!

  7. Many years ago I lived in the UK and they said the same thing. So, every 6 months we’d go to France, or Germany, or somewhere for the weekend and have our passport stamped. Then returned to re-start our 6-months. Don’t know if it really worked or not, or if it would there. With the EU guess you’ll have to go alot further than across the Channel!

  8. Poor you, Linda. And knocking at your door, too; wow. The driver’s license thing has gotten quite a few Americans in France and Italy…”gotten” in the sense of scaring them into spending more time in the USA. It’s too bad, really.

    Bon chance et…

    meilleurs voeux!!

  9. Taking one for the team, are you?

    I have to finally get my MN license this week but I’m only doing it because my TN one expires on my birthday Saturday. Ugh…

    I have to take the written test since I’ve never had a license in this state.

  10. It really is dangerous to drive without a valid license. As somebody said, your insurance might refuse to cover you.

    I believe you have to take the written test for the driver’s license in French. Does anybody know if there are any provisions for taking it in English? And it’s expensive to get a license in France. Plan on spending at least 500 euros.

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