Sunday, June 3, 2007

The Trivial Pursuit of Parking

Judy's recent question in the Comments about where we park in Leran got me thinking. She and Ron have lived in a few European towns with convoluted narrow streets without 3-car garages, and well understand the issue. Or, the query was a P.C. way of asking whether Smokey is really a welcome addition to the neighborhood. Welcome I don't know, but a 'curiosity piece' for sure.

To properly visualize, the two-block length of Rue du Four runs moreorless east-west and parallels the River Touyre, with houses numbering 1 through 35. The street is about 16' wide, including gutters, and the sidewalk less than 2'. The south side of the street has no cross street, whereas the north side is divided by Rue Cordeilhe.

Parking on Rue du Four is not haphazard. There is a parking pattern. It was like this last April when we first visited Leran, identical in January, and the same since we arrived May 13th. I don't know who originated the system, but everyone follows it. Houses west of Rue Cordeilhe park on the south side of the street, and houses east of Rue Cordeilhe park on the north side. By these rules, Smokey sleeps close to home. Obviously two cars can't pass each other on the street, but switching lanes to the opposite side at the intersection does allow for some maneuvering when encountering oncoming vehicles. When M. Boulbes the plombier came, he merely parked his not-so-petite camionette in the middle of the street and blocked all traffic for an hour. No one complained.

One advantage of parking in front of your house is that people generally do leave the house owner that coveted space. Those living across the street get what's left. One disadvantage is people sometimes park too close for comfort. Or, too close to close your shutters. One evening last week at shutter-closing time, a blue Peugot van blocked the ceremony. Not wanting the shutter police alerted I went off in search of the van owner. I was rehearsing a cobbled together sentence about "Je ne ferme pas les volet" hoping to get my point across, but when the young woman opened the door Louise turned out to be a Brit relocated from New Zealand. What I thought would be an awkward moment disappeared as Louise already guessed the problem.

Yet another way to meet the neighbors in Leran!


Anonymous said...

Those shutters look brand new...have you already replaced them, or did I just see them differently in the other pictures?

Luke is happy to meet "Amoureux de Gaz" (formerly known as Old Smokey). He looks right at home on the streets of Leran! Where are you going to park him when you come back to America? Can you just leave him in front of your house?

Doug said...

Nope, shutters are the same old ones. Suddenly they seem to be okey doke in color and a change not so important. First things first, like getting the floor back in place. The other issue is that we did not realize the cost of paint in this country. We haven't yet heard back from the bank about our loan request for a can of paint. More to follow on this issue.