There are days when I am not certain which the French love best: their food? or their rules?
Some say rules are meant to be broken. Not the French. Here they are meant to be enforced, even if that means flying in the face of all logic and intelligent thought.
We have been trying to import our car for 2 1/2 years. It's a 1997 Ford Explorer. (Yeah, we know it's old but it runs and it's big enough to haul our dogs and mon mari's
crap woodworking stuff.) There are lots of Fords here. There are Ford factories and dealerships all over Europe. Our Ford was purchased in Spain. Spain is part of Europe. It was licensed in Andorra, however, which is not part of the European Union, so it has to be imported. It doesn't meet EU guidelines. It apparently met EU guidelines in Spain, but not here in France. Did I mention that Spain is in Europe?
It's roadworthy, no questions there. Cars here have to pass a roadworthiness test evey year. You get a little sticker for your windshield; huge fines if you don't have one. It's the guidlines that are causing our problem; the little things. We were able to resolve a few of the issues after the first inspection: we needed clear turn signal lights (ours were amber, new bulbs are cheap); the vehicle plate was plastic and attached to the door frame, it had to be metal and in the engine compartment, (we had a new one made and riveted it on); there was a question about a seat belt (that was answered satisfactorily). The one problem that we have not been able to fix, – are you sitting down, this is serious stuff, we could be endangering life as we know it with our non-compliance…..ready…here it is: There has to be a tiny 'e' etched on to the headlights. There isn't. Our headlights are identical to the ones with the tiny 'e' but that's not good enough. The book says there has to be an 'e', so there has to be an 'e'. The headlights work just fine, illuminating the road ahead and everything. No 'e'.
It would cost us around 1500.00 euros ($1800.00) to change out all the lights, assuming we could find them. Then we would have to hope that nothing else was found wanting. Our car has 250,000 hard kilometres on it (150,000 miles). It's 10 years old and 7 of those years were in the mountains. In Andorra we got new brakes every 18 months and new tires every 10 months. The car has been well-used.
We thought we would just kind of ignore the whole import issue for awhile; just carry around the thick manila folder with all of the paperwork in it and, if we got stopped, say we were working on it. That's a perfectly acceptable excuse here: 'C'est en cours'. It's in process. Everyone knows anything relating to the government takes forever, so it's valid; understandable; makes one part of the system. Except for one little detail, we would have been fine. Turns out, our French insurance company thinks our car should be in compliance with those pesky guidelines. I suppose it says so in their book. They're not certain they want to insure it. Cheeky bastards!
Now we're faced with a choice: spend a bloody fortune to have little, tiny 'e's on our lamps or buy a new car. We were debating: it was a lot of money into an old car; it also needed, new tires and, soon, new brakes; and the transmission was making a funny, clunking noise. The thing that finally tipped the scales, though was when the old, Andorran plate fell off. I mean, we can take a hint!
So, tomorrow we're going new car shopping. Neither of us has ever done that before. In the U.S., when we were gainfully employed, we each traded cars every 2 or 3 years, and because we wanted something new or different, not because we had to. Our current car we bought used, from a friend who needed something bigger. It had 10,000 miles on it. The car before that we also bought used, from someone we knew. We have never looked at cars here, in France or in Europe. We haven't a clue what to expect. I know I'm going to make damn sure there are little 'e's on the lights…..
The picture? I just thought it was fun! 'Emma meeting Horse'. And, of course, she has to fit in the new car, along with the little Brown German Nazi Bitch….