Another rest day today, due to a solid overcast of low clouds, predicted to last until at least evening.  (And apparently different from yesterday’s solid overcast, which permitted flights of over 200 km.)

More information about roads and driving here: We have a nearby autoroute (read: Interstate-quality, limited access highway) which allows quick travel between the airport and the city of Montluçon. The speed limit is 110 kph, monitored by occasional cameras – and away from the cameras not closely regarded by a high percentage of drivers.  The primary local roads are of good quality and comfortably wide enough for two lanes, with a center stripe and good signs.

The secondary roads are conspicuously narrow, but always have a grass shoulder about a meter wide. When drivers meet, each steers to put his right wheels just off the pavement, which allows a safe (but close) passage without slowing down – any tendency to slow significantly marks you as a foreigner.  This maneuver doesn’t work when meeting farm equipment (common in this very rural area and, as we’ve seen, sometimes driven by children looking to be 12 years old); in this case you pull well off the pavement and slow or stop, with no danger of appearing foreign.

Roads are consistently of good quality and well signed.  We’re all becoming addicted to GPS guidance, which has certainly increased the efficiency of trailer retrieves enormously.  But navigation with a paper map would work well here.  The layout of local roads shows little evidence of master planning: they no doubt follow the routes of foot paths first established 800 or more years ago.

At least in this area, French drivers seem good.  They drive fairly fast, but for the most part sensibly (though I have seen one battered Pugeot lying on its side in a small cow pasture, the evident victim of excessive speed rounding a sharp corner).  Curiously – and very distinct from places such as Italy – they almost never use their horn. They seem not to regard as important any taboo against stopping in the middle of a narrow road when the need arises.