18 September 2012

Getting a new life in France


Mr Mustard wasn't in the public gallery last Tuesday as he was playing snooker (and an octogenarian relies on him for a lift so he gets priority over Barnet Council) but any male who had chosen to be in it was described as mad & sad and bloggers have been described in the turgid king of bling blog that you will have to find for yourself as needing to get a life. Well despite all of the commotion that there has been in Barnet this week Mr Mustard has blogged very little. Why is this? Well it is because it is difficult to blog at 130kph astride a motorcycle on a French or Belgian autoroute and on the road it is necessary to think about the traffic rather than about the incompetence of Barnet Council, although it is hard to keep that out of ones mind, there being so much of it. 

This means that the mysterious black van (which advertises the Barnet Bloggers on the side so is evidently a secret surveillance vehicle!) was parked for several days only about 300m from the home of a councillor, but then it always is because they happen to live about 300m away!

Mr Mustard does have some work to do and between bouts of work he has some blogs coming along. This is a quick one to announce his return to the fray.

Mr Mustard stayed in the historic city of Verdun about which Wikipedia says:

Verdun (French pronunciation: [vɛʁ.dœ̃]; medieval German: Wirten, official name before 1970 Verdun-sur-Meuse) is a city in the Meuse department in Lorraine in north-eastern France. It is a sub-prefecture of the department.
Verdun is the biggest city in Meuse, although the capital of the department is the slightly smaller city of Bar-le-Duc.

There are about 20,000 inhabitants in Verdun. Now Mr Mustard parked his motorcycle in a corner of the square which leads to the top of the monument. One of the joys of France is that you can leave your motorcycle on an empty section of pavement and not be bothered by the "police nationale" or by a "contractuel" (traffic warden). This has seen Mr Mustard leave his motorcycle right outside the tourist office in the middle of large cities. Naturally, motorcyclists make sure they do not incovenience pedestrians. They choose places which are not in the way, internal corners are especially useful.

The other joy of France, including for car drivers, is that parking meters go off for 2 hours at lunchtime as the stomach of a traffic warden is as important as the stomach of every other worker and the French do love their food as does Mr Mustard and it is starting to show. He has now started indoor rowing again (2000m is agony) to try and shift the weight as it will cost him £1,000 for a new one piece motorcycle race suit otherwise.

Now coming back to Barnet for a moment the population is about 350,000 and there are 15 town centres (Finchley, Hendon, Chipping Barnet etc etc) so each of the towns which make up the borough has about 23,000 residents. This is only a little more than Verdun so in parking terms they can be compared. Mr Mustard did find the time to take a photograph of a parking meter in the square in which he was parked in the town centre (a parking meter is a rare sight in Barnet nowadays - this one is a Parkeon a make which Barnet Council has recently scrapped a great pile of)

So you can see that it runs from 9am to 12 and then from 2pm to 7pm. Mr Mustard has only just noticed that there are 17minute and 34minute options (he does not know why but will ask his French friends later) and that parking charges go from 20cents for the 17minutes stay up to €2.80 for all day (about £2.25). So parking in this city of Verdun is much cheaper than in Barnet, is much easier as you can pay with coins of 5 different values from 10c up to €2 and if you want to pop to see a friend in the city at lunchtime you can see them for up to 2 hours for nothing. There is a tariff at another even more central car park where up to 12 minutes is free. (Les douze premières minutes de présence d’un véhicule sont gratuites.)

Credit Cards are not necessary as the charges are loose change and no time is lost faffing about with a mobile phone. You can also buy a monthly permit for €27 for the entire zone. Mr Mustard also didn't see any traffic wardens; maybe because when the charges are this low there is good compliance. 

If you can't stomach even these charges there are free spacious car parks just outside of the ramparts so you are still only 5 or 10 minutes from the centre.

Finally, Sundays and Bank Holidays are free.

Now what is that empty slogan that Barnet use "Putting the Community First". The Verdun (a lively City) website (Mr Mustard only looked at the pages in French) didn't seem to have a stupid slogan; the parking page simply includes the phrase that parking is quick and easy (simple et rapide). The first page you meet isn't how to pay for your penalty charge notice - Mr Mustard couldn't easily find any mention of them at all.

Quick and easy - not words which are likely to become the slogan in any Barnet town centre any time soon.

Does Mr Mustard have a life? It would appear that he does.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

1 comment:

  1. The 17 minutes and 34 minutes seem to be merely exact proportions of the one-hour charge.

    It seems Monsieur Pedant is in charge of the parking in Verdun.


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