Despite massive traffic jams the car still the choice for vacationers
After months of waiting with abated breath, the time has finally come. That’s right, the first weekend in August marks the annual French pilgrimage, primarily by car, to vacation destinations all across the country.
With the mass exodus from France’s major northern cities, namely Paris, comes the residual problem of traffic. 2009 was by far one of the worst years, when on 1 August 2009, five million vacationers anxious to hit the roads all found themselves waiting together on the road to no where in a jam that spanned 866 kilometres.
The problem of course is most vacationers head south to the land of sea and guaranteed sunshine. And after a horrid start to the spring, and the one week of summer-like weather, it’s almost a guarantee that everyone will be heading back on that same route.
Those leaving from major cities have easy access to airports and train stations, making the car a likelier choice for those living in smaller towns. However, despite rising costs in gas, the car is still the favoured choice for vacationers. Especially with many more cars offering integrated GPS services, it’s a hard-sell to convince people to abandon the freedom of travel and time flexibility of a car.
To help ease the pains of congestion, there is the trusty Bison Futé, (clever buffalo), who is the cartoon spokesperson for the French ministry of ecology, sustainable development and energy. On the website, Bison Futé gives helpful suggestions, in both French and English, to travellers about which roads to avoid and overall driving conditions.
While many vacationers try to beat the crowds by travelling in the wee hours of the morning, it’s not necessarily a tactic that works. Quite simply, though you may avoid the morning traffic from your point of departure, you will eventually get entangled in the jam coming out of the next town.
So what’s a person to do? Nothing really, apart from taking another form of transportation or heading out to Paris Plage to avoid travelling all together. Just assume the beginning of the road trip and the return will probably be spent on the road at a dead standstill. But isn’t that what summer vacation is all about?