Saturday, February 19, 2011

Truckin' in Provence

If you're gonna shop for antiques in Europe, then you've got to have the right transportation to pick them up and haul them around.  I rent, depending on my needs at the time, either a high top utility van or the largest truck you can rent without a commercial drivers license in France. Both only come in a manual drive, 6 speed.

Now if you have ever rented a car and driven through the small villages of  southern France, you understand why most people own a VERY small car.  The streets are not two lane. They are supposed to be, but they lie.  They are tiny, squeak through, hold your breath, very tight roads. Throw in a small SUV and one of you will be on the sidewalk dodging fast walking, hell bent elderly ladies carrying the days provisions home.  Want to watch grown men's eyes become big as saucers, put a middle aged blond behind the wheel of a large truck careening heading straight towards you.

The height of your chosen vehicle is very important and it behooves you to keep it in mind at all times.  There are many, and I mean many old bridges scattered throughout said villages all over the French countryside. You can count on the fact that chances are said truck is not going to fit under them. This begs the question of what do you do in the event your truck is probably/absolutely not going to fit and you are on one of those "this is definitely not a two lane" road?  Reverse, but remember you are in a LARGE truck with this huge container thing located directly behind your seat which renders your rear view mirror absolutely useless.  The side mirrors will become your best friends.  Consider them more priceless than diamonds, because you can NOT function without them.  Well, I guess you could, but the results would not be pretty.

Now, if you've ever spent much time in the south of France, you know that they have mountains.  I have spent a LOT of time trying to avoid going through the mountains.  Why, you ask?  Well, the French who consider a drive around the hair pins turns to be their own personal competition with the Italian drivers around their same said mountains, tend to consider they own the road.  The whole road.  In a truck (remember the fake 2 lane village streets  )it takes up the whole road and just to keep things interesting, there are drop offs around these curves. Sheer, rock falling, drop offs. And did I mention, no fencing. Nada, nothing to keep you from plunging off. Nada, nothing.  Also, I have vertigo.  This means that when I get high up, say a tall bridge or for instance, a sheer drop off on a mountain road, that I lose all sense of balance and feel like I'm falling and completely nauseous?

Being an antique dealer is not for the faint of heart. Oh, and by the way, I can back up said truck and park it with 6 inches to spare on each side. I am woman, 50 something blond to boot - hear me roar!


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