It used to be a daunting experience taking the car over to France. You had to remember to fill up at Dover because of the horrible price of French petrol. Loading on the ferry could be dodgy in a gale: I remember once in Cherbourg the ferry was heaving about so much that port workers were signalling each of us to wait, then dart on as the boat and the ramp came briefly together before the next wave hit.

It used to be a daunting experience taking the car over to France. You had to remember to fill up at Dover because of the horrible price of French petrol. Loading on the ferry could be dodgy in a gale: I remember once in Cherbourg the ferry was heaving about so much that port workers were signalling each of us to wait, then dart on as the boat and the ramp came briefly together before the next wave hit.

Then there were those chaussée deformé signs. We deform our streets by not filling in the potholes and spending the money on speed bumps instead, but the French simply put up signs warning drivers. And then there was the dreaded prioritée à droite. Priority on roundabouts was in favour of cars coming in, not cars already on the roundabout. Oh yes, and you were supposed to buy yellow lens covers for the headlights, too.

But now all is changed. We rent cars because it is cheaper to fly and hire. If we do take our own car, the ferries are huge and the tunnel swift. French petrol is cheaper (diesel far cheaper) so we fill the tank as well as the boot in Calais. Their roads are less deformed than ours. The rigorous rule of priority to the right has been modified -- and the headlights are white.

Instead of driving in France being an arduous adventure, now it is simply a relief to be in a country that recognises that ordinary people like driving and need decent roads and places to park cheaply. So here are the 10 best things about driving in France:

1. Diesel cars. Nearly 70 per cent of new cars in France are now diesel, with the fuel savings that involves.

2. Proper motorways. The outer Paris region has the best urban motorway network in Europe.

3. Cars in the capital. Driving in Paris remains a challenge but is an accepted fact of life.

4. Parking by Braille. In Paris at least they nudge cars in front and behind to squeeze cars into spaces that would otherwise be too small.

5. Pavement parking. An acquired taste but more healthy than the attitude of British pedestrians towards cars using space sensibly.

6. Speed limits. Motorways are 81mph but with restrictions in bad weather, rational ones in towns.

7. Underground city parking. Every provincial town seems to have parking under the main squares.

8. Smooth road surfaces. Cars no longer need squashy suspension to cope with the deformities.

9. Improved safety. The French roads still kill many more people than ours but under their previous transport minister Nicolas Sarkozy, the country made huge strides in cutting deaths and injuries.

10. A large enough country to make driving round it a pleasure.

Not all these examples of French excellence are applicable to the UK. Not much can be done about the final point now: Joan of Arc settled that. But the French approach to the motor car is vastly more adult than our prissy one. And, thanks to that adult attitude, their motoring conditions are becoming more agreeable, while ours are steadily getting worse.

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