Brad Spurgeon's Blog

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The Code de la Route: A Semiotician’s Delight on French Highways

July 31, 2013

france signsPARIS – Did you ever think that drivers in France answered to their own logic of the road like none other anywhere else in the world? Did you ever read the French Code de la Route and decide that the French will apply the exact opposite to a rule as laid out in the code once they have passed their license and take to the road? Did you ever wonder why things were thus? Here is a story that explains it all, from my archive, that I wrote and published in 1992 in the Ottawa Citizen after taking my French driver’s license and spending lots of money on the lessons that revealed the method behind the madness. It all comes back down to the great literary connection of the country’s flair for semiotics, the science of signs. So take a read through if you want those questions answered, and especially if you have to take the code and learn to drive in France yourself – or for that matter, if you’re just on holidays and need to take to the road amongst this nation of skilled semioticians, and drivers’ seeking revenge for being subjected to such a mind-numbing, wallet emptying process in the first place…

Today’s story from the archives is about the Code de la Route as semiotic exercise….

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