Need direction? France has lots

French signpost
On my last road trip, I came across this signpost in a lovely little village called Aignay-le-Duc. As you can see from the big photo, that’s actually three layers of sign posts, plus a couple facing a different direction. Want to get to Echalot? If you’re approaching from the road in front of these signs, you’re going to struggle: the close-up, side-on photo below shows how well it’s hidden in the main photo. The village has, perhaps, decided that placing directions to their own local shop signs might distract tourists. I can see it now:

Driver: “Hmm, which way to Echalot?”

Passenger: “Oh who knows, but look, there’s a patisserie to the left!”

…and then they’d be heading in the wrong direction. But at least they’d have happy bellies and the locals would be a bit richer.

French signpost closeupSomething else you might notice in the close-up photo is that one place is listed twice, but written differently. Not only is there an accent on the newer sign for Etalente, but an ‘e’ has been replaced with an ‘a’, making the place Étalante.

As for those villages listed below Etalante and Echalot on the old sign (somewhere ending in ‘Les Juifs’ and somewhere else on the Seine), I can only presume that at least some tourists have put their faith in the ‘Autres Directions’ (other directions) sign pointing left — and ended up in entirely the wrong place. Not to worry: they can always find the patisserie and stop in for a snack while they try to figure out where they are.

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I'm a technical author, journalist and writer from Australia who has been living in Europe since 2000 and exploring the world from there. My passions are writing, snow sports and travel.

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5 comments on “Need direction? France has lots
  1. Isabelle says:

    Also there is those signs that looks like they are pointing left but they actually mean go straight!!
    You’re gonna laugh if you ever go to Italy! Do you know the saying “all road goes to Rome”? It is true at most crossroad you have Rome indicated on the left and on the right up to you to find out which one is the faster and which one you’re suppose to take:D

  2. Tim says:

    Hehe … not as crap as the ones in Italy, April – as Isabelle has pointed out. They completely changed the road system in one part of Naples about five years back, but haven’t got around to changing the signposts yet – meaning that, unless you are a local, you’ve not got a chance in hell! We spent more than an hour trying to get onto a dual carriageway that was no more than 1km from where we were staying!

    Keep up the good work – I enjoy these!

  3. April says:

    OH yes. I recall the time we were two hours late to the Olympics in Turin because of road signs (we caught the finals for the curling…), and the day I was driving to Pompei and ended up at Mount Vesuvius. The road signs just stopped. My navigator gave up when the last one led to a dirt track, which we continued up regardless.

  4. Jack says:

    Thanks for the laugh…I’ve been one of those confused ‘tourists’ trying to figure out where to go before defaulting to ‘Autres Directions’…Actually, I think this is a conspiracy to get lost tourists to stop somewhere and try to speak French…

  5. helly peter says:

    I think this is a conspiracy to get lost tourists to stop somewhere and try to speak French…

About me

Wendy Hollands writer in Annecy, France

I'm an experienced professional writer based in the French Alps. I enjoy learning French language nuances, winter sports and travel. Read more...

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