Driving in France? No problem…

Are you worried about your first time driving abroad? I was too!

Five years ago, working abroad was just a dream for me.  I’d applied for my first job and was hopeful that I would be successful.  Anyway, I was successful and was initially placed in a tiny village called St Julien des Landes in the Vendée, which can accurately be described as in the middle of nowhere.  If I was going to spend my days off exploring France (and let’s be honest, what was the point of working abroad if that wasn’t my plan?) then I was going to have to take my car overseas with me. 

To say I worried about this would be an understatement.  I spent so much time researching driving in France that I could have written a book on the topic, from memory.  A couple of days before I started work, I drove to Portsmouth to catch the overnight ferry to St Malo.  I didn’t sleep much at all on the ferry as I was so worried about the drive the next day.  The following morning, I got off the ferry and drove for 3 hours, without a sat nav, all the way to my new place of work without a single issue.  Dare I say, I even enjoyed the drive? 

Fast forward 5 years later and I have just finished my fourth year working as an overseas trainer.  My job for the last four years has involved a lot of driving.  To give you an idea of how much a lot of driving is to me, this year I have driven 27,000 km in just six months.  I have now driven in France so much that I feel more confident driving on French roads than English roads.  I have driven in France so much that nothing phases me anymore, no matter how many times I get cut up on roundabouts.  I know some French words related to driving more than I know the English words.  I rarely use the phrase “traffic jam” even though I am often stuck in one!  Instead the French word “bouchon” comes more naturally to me now because I see this all the time on motorway signs and hear it almost every day on the radio. 

So, what is my point?  Five years ago just the idea of driving overseas terrified me, so much so that I spent months worrying about it.  Now, driving is such an integral part of my daily working life that it doesn’t phase me at all.  At times, I actually find it a little boring because I drive the same routes so often.  Having said that one of my most common drives home is along the Gulf of St Tropez, so that never gets boring.  I often have to remind myself to keep my eyes on the road and not on the super yachts in the port!

If you’re driving abroad for the first time, go for it (maybe with a little preparation first!) and you won’t regret it. It’s opened up so many amazing opportunities for me.

You can apply this to any aspect of life.  That thing you’re worried about, the thing you think you can’t do?  Do it!  I know that it’s easier said than done, but five years from now you’ll be doing it every day without even thinking about it.  Do it one step at a time if you have to, but just do it. One day you’ll be doing it with such confidence and ease that you’ll wonder what you were ever worried about.

If you are looking for advice on driving overseas, make sure you read My Top 7 Tips for Driving in France.

À bientôt

Catherine xx

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