Good to Know

When you travel out of your home country, one of the most challenging tasks is deciphering signs, and some of them are important, like the sign at the cemetery advising when to leave to avoid being locked in overnight. Seriously. Good to know.

And this one:


Don’t touch this. Got it.

And this one:

(Beware of the dog!)
(Beware of the dog!)

Even without knowing French, you’d understand this sign if you saw this on the other side of the fence:

Le Chien
Le Chien

He did NOT like having his picture taken.

Some signs are easy to understand:


I bought un nouveau chapeau in this shop, since we’re spending so much time out in the sun. (And because it’s super stylish, let’s be honest.)

Some signs are sort of inspiring, in a vague, literary way:


“Street of the Brave . . . er. . . Certain-Style-of-French-Poetry”?

Some are just slightly beyond my level of French:


think this means: “Fashion worn by dogs and cats” but I’m not sure about the à portée de part. Glancing in the door, there seem to be lots of posh pet things, but since I have neither dog nor cat, it’s not really something I absolutely need to know.

Some are cheerful:


It doesn’t really explain what kind of food is offered, but at least they seem to be in a good mood. (It says, “The sun shines for everyone Restaurant”)

Some make you go, “Huh?”

I seriously have no idea.
I seriously have no idea.

So if you stand here . . . what? . . . you’ll make friends?

How about this one? This means pedestrians yield to traffic, right?

Who's yielding here?
Who’s yielding here?

But whenever we wait, the cars all stop (well almost all), just barely in time, it’s true, but they stop, and the drivers tend to look a bit irritated that we’re not halfway across already. But there are just enough cars that don’t stop to make us believe the yield sign is actually for us. Wouldn’t that be REALLY good to know?

Some are completely incomprehensible. Even my French tutor doesn’t know what this one means:

IMG_2920Is it saying: “No cars, no bikes, no pedestrians and all you lawbreakers who are going to come this way anyway, go 20 km/hr”? That can’t be it. The road has to be for someone, and lots of us use it all the time. But today I noticed this exact sign, but without the red stripe a block earlier, so now I have a new theory. The first sign with no stripe is saying, “I don’t care if you’re a car, a bike, or a person. Don’t go over 20 km/hr because you’re all sharing this tiny street.”

Ruelle shared by cars, bikes and pedestrians.
Ruelle shared by cars, bikes and pedestrians.

At the end of the block, with the red-striped sign, I’m going to go with, “All bets are off. Go as fast as you can.” Based on how these little cars scream around bends, I think I’ve got it.

Onward and upward. Here’s to greater understanding wherever you are!


8 thoughts on “Good to Know”

  1. Hi Sunny and David,
    Had an enjoyable visit with your daughter on Easter Day as we drove up and down Poudre Canyon with Christy and Tom and enjoyed a yummy meal and conversations with about 16 folks at the Case House.
    Such fun to meet and be with her.
    Sounds as though all is well with you.

  2. Oh Sunny! You have no idea what a gigantic smile you have just put on my face with this post! Love it, love it, love it! I am going to show it to my French friend, see what she makes of those mysterious signs. But I personally think this is a rue pour les chiens et les chats! They are not on the sign, so… why not? Eliza SM

  3. Now I know why I am so damn funny 🙂 This one had me laughing out loud, the friends one especially!

  4. Hey Sunny. The sign with the big red line through it. At first I was wondering, but I think I have it. Notice that the car is not crossed out. I think it’s saying, “Cars go 20kph… no bikes or walkers allowed.” True? Still funny… so much in the sign. But I bet that’s what it is. Anyway… keep enjoying your time. I’m on sabbatical in 5 days.

    1. Yeah, I thought that for a while, but trust me, here in France there is no such thing as “No bikes or pedestrians allowed.” Bikes and feet are the main form of transport. It is common to see temporary speed limits on one sign, then a bit later when the speed limit ends –and it does end, because a lot of the time there is no speed limit at all–they show the same sign with a red line across it. Usually it’s just the number, but I’ve been paying a bit more attention, and this same duo of signs is at the beginning and end of all the super narrow streets in the centre ville, which are all used by pedestrians, bikes and cars, and even delivery vans, if you can believe it. So I’m sure it’s a one or two block speed limit of 20 km/hr, then when the TINY street empties onto a merely small street, there’s once again no speed limit.
      Have a wonderful sabbatical!

  5. Hilarious! I have a different theory for that sign, I think pedestrians and bikes are not allowed and cars need to go 20? Anyway, who knows! Love the friend one…that is just confusing!

    1. That’s what Brian thought, too, but see my reply to him. Cars are forbidden on some streets or at certain times, but pedestrians and bikes, NEVER! This is Europe. We walk here.

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