French Highways!

AVIS were probably a little surprised when they get their car back yesterday; if, of course, global beomoths can be “surprised”

I had picked up the car in London on Wednesday last week, driven to my little house in the south of France to deliver a couple of pieces of furniture left to me by my father, and turned round to zoom back to Caen, and the ferry back to Blighty. Nearly 2,600 kilometres all in all; thank heavens for Unlimited Mileage.

The French highway system, it must be said, is wonderful; fast (130 kms/hour is the official limit), well maintained, reasonably direct and well-supplied with good rest-stops, it is a wonderful place for a driver. One will always be told by friends about “faster” journeys, and it has to be agreed that Google Maps, while probably pretty accurate according to some algorithm or other, take little notice of the Parisian rush hour.

However, the journey was great, conversation with my friend Clive (the MD of a great English tour company, Discover the World) was non-stop, and all in all the expedition achieved its end. And as a cherry on that particular cake, we were the second vehicle off the ferry, completely by chance, through immigration and customs and on to the M27 within ten minutes.

The ferry was good. It was an interesting and comfortable way to make the crossing from France to the UK, but I remain only loosely convinced. Certainly, if one were travelling between England’s South West, and Normandy, it would make some sense, but it is pricey, £205 for the car plus us compared with £58 on Eurotunnel, and that before the bar and restaurant bills. Well, one has to pass the six-hour crossing somehow, and although fairly enthusiastically priced (£22.50 or £28.00 for the two buffet choices, or a rather uninspiring cafeteria) the food was pretty good, and passed an hour or so. Perhaps one of their longer, overnight routes might make sense, but Brittany Ferries didn’t quite do it for me.

And so back to London, and now en route back to Chicago; I am travelling with Lufthansa via Frankfurt, and very good they are too.

There is much to do at home. With my frequent European jaunts this year coming to an end as my father’s estate is concluded, I will again turn my attention to business.

The travel industry has changed beyond belief in the past few years, and one has to examine it closely to see where one’s place is in the rapidly changing environment. From economic to political upheavals, to the rapidly changing distributive framework and the concomitant shifts in the relationships between agents, suppliers and customers, there is much to cogitate.

And I think, much for me to comment upon!