Around France

French Drivers’ Code: A Humbling Experience

Now that I’ve dealt with the humbling experience of failing the French drivers’ code test not once but six times, I’ll make this post short and sweet

After the first disastrous French drivers’ code examination in Nimes — with a translator — I braved on to retake the test in Uzès, in French. For 30 euros instead of 110 euros, I figured I could afford to fail. It would be good practice for my French, too.

I blundered in French for three consecutive weeks — #2, #3, and test #4

For test #5,  I signed up again in Nimes. With the translator. I would surely pass.

drivers test

Translator Vincent with Fanny, the auto school instructor

Not so.

Remember the handheld device that messed me up with the translator the last time?

A Humbling Experience

Back to Uzès for Test #6. 

I signed up for test #6 in Uzés. In French. Same time. Same place. Failed.

Test #7. Same time. Same place. To be perfectly honest, I would give up on taking the test if I screwed up a seventh time — even though, according to the French guidelines, I can take it as many times as I wish… or can afford.

During the week, a sympathetic friend sent me n email with a link to an ad on Leboncoin, the French version of eBay. The ad included a photo of a used “Twizzy,” Renault’s “sans permis” car. The “no driver’s license” car was my perfect choice. A cut above a 4-wheel motorcycle, the Twizzy could get me to the grocery store, to a friend’s house, to the train station… anywhere I would care to go … at 40 kilometers per hour .. on back roads.


Humbling Experience #7

Walking into the test site for the seventh time — with a totally different attitude — I found myself singing Kenny Rogers’s song, “The Gambler.”

“Know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em.”

I was definitely ready to “fold ’em.

Perhaps my “give a damn” attitude made the difference.

Whatever it was … I passed!

French Drivers License. Next Step

According to the French government, I have five years to take private driving lessons and pass the practical part of the driver’s test. I’ll need every year I can get at the rate I’m going. Actually, Twizzy is looking better and better.

Meanwhile, I’m taking a break. I’m off to visit my family in the States.

While I’m there, maybe I’ll take a road trip. By myself. Driving with the license I’ve had since I was sixteen.



Categories: Around France, Blog

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32 replies »

  1. Hi! I live near Nimes and i am unable to find an Auto Ecole that is able to support me with a translator. Whoever i talked to so far told me to find a translator on my own and i lost 3 years in this process 🙁 Can you help me by pointing me to the Auto Ecole in Nimes who helped you with a translator? Thanks, Nandu

  2. Glad to hear you heading back to the US to see your family. When we in lockdown here the most tortuous thing was not being able to hug my family, and they only live 2 miles away. This pandemic is not going away for a very long time… We’re vaccinated…. Go for it.. And enjoy the hugs and kisses 💜

    • Yes. I’m anxious to see everyone. It’s been quite a year. I started out the crisis in the US, then came to France in May. Locked down almost all the time since then. It’s a beautiful place to be, but it’s time for those hugs! Glad to hear from you!

  3. What a determined lady! Perseverance wins the day again! Congratulations and enjoy your time with family. Soak up those hugs!

    • Thank you! I’m definitely ready to do something less frustrating! At least it turned out on the up side.

  4. Fantastique!! You sure have a lot more perseverance than I could ever have. Stay safe in the US. We’re in semi lockdown in Vancouver…can’t drive or go outside your health zone.

    • Taking these tests over and over certainly has helped pass the time! Wish we were all on our way to the Memories Tour! Take care of yourself.

  5. My goodness-you are very determined! Good for you, I would have quit a long time ago – I like the Twizzy. Enjoy your visit here – I wish I could visit France again. Who knew Covid would shut us down for how long?

    • If I hadn’t felt some compensation for all the tests being in French, I’m sure I wouldn’t have persevered. It did help my French. Now if I could just find people to talk road rules in French! Thank you for your support… and for following the blog.

    • It seems I’m ticking off one thing after the other these days. A most memorable lockdown! Where are you? Missing seeing you here… i

    • Any travel right now is a bit scary, but I’ve had both doses of vaccine and I’ll be on guard. I’m not sure putting it off longer makes it safer. Love keeping in touch with you. Hope we’ll see each other again before long!

    • Can you engrave that statement on a gold plaque and send it to me, please. Thank you for the compliment!

  6. You are one of the bravest women I know…….when I moved to California in the 90’s, after driving for over 39 years, I failed the first time……AND IT WAS IN ENGLISH!! It was a humbling experience.

  7. Glad you passed, thats a lot of patience seven times -good for you. Not you can legally drive in France. However visitors can rent a car which I did for a month and traveled all over the South of France and even went to Milan Italy. When I was there I rented a car for a month and upon arriving home found 100s of euros in fine for traffic violations in Avignon, Arles … Paid them immediately -to be in good standing for future travels and rentals. Looked at it as “part of the trips expense”, apparently electronic devices clocked my speed and or driving mistakes-lol

  8. I can’t believe you are leaving Uzes to go to the US!!🤭😳 Stay Safe…In our small Province of Nova Scotia we are in lockdown…we are asked to remain in our home Communities as our numbers soared from 4 up to 96 in a few days…the variants are causing us concern. 😣🙁

  9. Bravo! Impressive! Have you put your finger on why this was so challenging. Sometimes I think there’s a little sadism or willful resistance to yielding to the adequacy of un étranger.

  10. Debby, I was wondering how you were faring with the driver’s test. You are brave and persistent!
    Good for you for staying the course and passing the test! Give me a call if you come close and enjoy the kids.

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