The Adventures of Henri & Moi

It’s not even the middle of January and I can already check something off my 2012 goal list. Driving a manual car…in France…on little roads…by myself.

Yes, I have a car. Well, it’s not technically mine, but it belongs to Fabien’s Grandfather, Rene. It’s a Clio and they are everywhere in France along with the brands Renault and Peugeot. I’ve decided he (the car) must have a name, so, meet Henri (pronounced the French way: On-re). Why Henri? Well, in the USA, Henri is an older name. And since the car is a quite old and belongs to Grandpa Rene, I felt it should have a distinguished name. Plus, when you say Henri with the french accent, it’s kind of fun.


I thought there would be a funny tale to tell about my first days of driving, but it was rather uneventful. The first day, I stalled a lot. The second day, less. The third day, I drove in the village. Easy breezy. And all the while, Fabien patiently held my hand.

Stalling in the round-about was kind of like this...

However, my hand was empty after January 1st. This meant that going forward I had to find the school and manage driving on my own. The first solo day, I stalled a few times. The second, I stalled a lot, got lost and was a ball of stress by the time I made it to the University. The third day, I got confused and stalled in a round-about causing other drivers to honk and tell me I was number one. To add to my embarrassment, the neighbor drove past me laughing hysterically. Totally mean, but I probably would have done the same.

And most recently, when I was driving home, I got stuck in the village downtown, on a hill, behind a bus, with a car behind me. If your familiar with driving stick, this can be a complex situation because the car rolls back the moment the brake is released.  So, when the bus took off, I floored it and quickly removed my foot from the clutch. My tires skid and a group of little old ladies leaving the church gave me the most horrified look. This made me L-O-L. Whatever, I bet that guy behind me is happy Henri didn’t go slamming into his Mercedes.

Everyday, I seriously consider taking the bus. I feel like other drivers are constantly screaming, “WHAT IS SHE DOING?” but over the past 3 days, I have seen improvement. Meaning, I have only stalled once.

But, for your viewing pleasure, I recorded clips of some of the greatest moments of our adventures to date. Enjoy! (P.S. It’s set to music, so you might want to mute your sound.)