‘Allo ‘allo


Two fixed camera speeding fines arrive from the friendly French government, each with a laudable disdain for translation options. They may not be able to open their shops on Sunday but the French can sure produce a superb form to fill in. There is a loving care about the precise information, the attention to detail, the colour-coded (three) pages: even the quality of the paper itself. Each is a thing of beauty – officialdom elevated to an art form.

This could be the documentation for a national treaty recognising the newly independent Scottish state or perhaps the formal application for citizenship of the Republic. The tricoleur flies on the summit of each page adorned with the head of the Maid of Orleans who clearly did not die in vain now her people can boast such transcending secretarial skills. It exclaims: Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite, Penalite!

(I made that last bit up).

This is the bitter postscript to a soujourn in Limousin where we barely saw another car let alone a speed camera. I believe I’m right in saying the French don’t approve of fore warning drivers in case they slow down. That would be cheating when there are fountains of francs, or oudles of euros, at stake. I’m not kidding. Each fine is 90 Euros and for passing on my name to les flics, Hertz bill me €19 each time. That’s a total of €218 or £157. I only paid £200 for the entire hire for a week.

The cameras must have been hidden in the hedgerows like snipers so invisible were they. And before you scoff, I wasn’t exactly racing pied a plancher, just ambling along with kids in the rear. On one I was adjudged to be doing 60 kph in a 50 zone and in the other 58. Fifty eight! They allow you five over the limit for a margin of error which means I was four kilometres an hour over the rate in an area with no noticeable speed signs, not even locals peering out of the verges to wave me down.

Four K over the limit (that’s two and a half mph) and charged €90 for the fine means it cost me €25 per mile. And that’s only if I cough up within 46 days because, like your bill on the table d’hote menu, it goes up and up, eventually hitting €375, although for that Maigret comes round and collects it.

Even if I wanted to contest it, they demand the minimum payment upfront as ‘a deposit’. Talk about guilty without trial…

And, yes, I do have to pay. I did break the law, your honour, even if it is a damned nonsense. It was a French registered vehicle, not one the police would have to trace through the British DVLA. And it’s part of the rental agreement that I am responsible for offences and fines so, if I don’t pay, Hertz will pursue me. As yet, I think there is no agreement on pan-European penalty points affecting UK drivers but it’s coming in a couple of years. No wonder Nigel Farage is on Question Time so often.

Anyway, they’ve made it very easy for me to pay online – isn’t global finance wonderful. (Is it too late to blame the kids?)

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16 thoughts on “‘Allo ‘allo

  1. Hi Derek,
    Commiserations, what a sickener. FYI, it’s not the maid of Orléans on the documents, it is Marianne. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marianne

  2. John G. Mitchell

    There have been European scams re speeding, I am not saying this is necessarily one but you might want to google it if you have any doubts – obviously I do not have the paperwork in front of me.
    Regards from Selkirk.

  3. if it is payable to a bunch of chancers registered in london don’t pay.

  4. If its any consolation, I have just paid a speeding fine of £100, plus 3 penalty points for driving at 70mph on a long straight stretch between Tyndrum and Dalmally.

    My excuse was that I was late for an appointmet with an undertaker, was met with the response”You should know better Sir that 60mph is the speed limit on all but motorways”.
    “Next time it could be your funeral arrangements”

    Be warned!!

  5. Bugger (the Panda)

    Only comiseration is that had you a French Driving licence you would have only “lost” 2 points and they expire after a year.

    I was done for not stopping at a stop sign by hiding Gendarmes. It was a self financing training exercise and I had my day in Court to deny it. Police didn’t even turn up & just sent a note that I was guilty. Gendarmes don’t lie apparently. The Judge was very gentle with me and asked me explain puzzlement at the lack opf presence of my accusers. I explained that I as a citizen had equal status with Police. I egged a bit and said that the Police don not “control” the citizens, we control them. The Court collapsed in laughter and even the Judge smiled.

    Anyway got fined a bit extra for not paying up automatically, but no points as I was on UK licence.

    Little did I expect two weeks later I received a visit from the Gerndarmes saying the Judge had “invited” me to change my licence to a French one and yes I got 2 points off my licence.

    Had to lie low for a a year or so.

    • Bugger (the Panda)

      and yes they use conceled video cameras so no flash. Fixed units are usual just after a major change of speed.

      Easy to get stopped which is why I don’t drink and drive at all.

  6. C’est la vie.

    I could get all serious about speed limits in urban and rural areas but actually having just read the news this is not the day for it.

    Sad day indeed.

    • John G. Mitchell

      re my post above have a google look at “Speeding ticket?? – Rick Stevens Travel Forum” and comment by/post by Michelle Brentwood dated 23/5/13 but still apposite!

  7. Should that not be titled ‘allo, “allo….’allo….

  8. Nearly every day someone’s child is killed because motoring offences are regarded as trivial, the penalties are regarded as oppressive and people think they can legitimise their speeding with the old lounge bar nonsense that it’s all about making money for the authorities. Grow up. It’s a ton of moving metal you’re in charge of.

  9. @Tam Indeed. That’s why I was driving responsibly. It doesn’t make the sneaky placement of cameras, the marginal excess speed or the inflated fine acceptable. Only robots never challenge authority. I suggest the tone of the article didn’t make your humour camera flash.

  10. Had a tomtom in Germany this summer. Makes a kerching sound whenever you speed at 50km/hr through a village without even a sausage shop. Fabulous thing. Took us door to door between hotels too. Cost a lot less for the program than a fixed penalty notice.

    I would recommend that for you next trip.

  11. As Bugger the Panda will no doubt confirm, the entry sign to a French town or village doubles up as the indicator that a 50kph limit is in force. The message is often driven home by numerous ’50 Rappel’ signs, so there’s really no excuse. I also imagine that a 90 Euro fine is a better incentive to observe the limit next time than any number of flashing ‘Slow down’ signs such as we seem to favour here. And there’s something faintly ludicrous in complaining that life’s unfair because the police don’t give you the chance to stop breaking the law after you’ve broken it….

  12. A very disappointing post Derek, you got caught doing something you shouldn’t have been doing, having a juvenile whinge about it isn’t very edifying.

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