Friday 24 August 2012

The Sign of an Ordered Society

A few weeks ago we posted about arret minutes signs that indicated that you could park somewhere for a few minutes if you were just nipping in to the bakers.

Recently I snapped this no parking sign whilst sitting at traffic lights in Issoudun. Curiously, it is a no parking sign positioned in the middle of a bank of what are clearly marked parking bays. The wording underneath explains all - 10 minutes toléré - 10 minutes tolerated.

There are three openly acknowledged levels of the law in France - legal, illegal and tolerated. This middle ground of tolerated behaviour exists of course in all pragmatic societies, but putting it in writing would be considered really rather odd anywhere but France. Although I didn't notice one, I'd be willing to bet that these parking bays service a boulangerie or a pharmacie. In Preuilly, it is clearly acceptable to park outside these institutions, no matter how much you impede traffic or force pedestrians onto the road, so long as you are simply popping in to pick up your sackful of medications or your daily pain.

There is a very nice explanation of the concept of toléré in French-American lawyer Jean Taquet's English language newsletter of July 2009.



Ken Broadhurst said...

Trying again: Susan, I'm not sure about your assertion that this tolerance thing would be odd "anywhere but France" — you'd have to survey all the countries in the world!

Grammatically, it's the arrêt that is toléré, not the 10 minutes. You can tell from the spelling (agreement) which word it is that the adjective toléré modifies. Le stationnement est interdit, mais un arrêt d'un temps limité ne l'est pas. Parking means you "abandon" your car; stopping means you stay close by so that you can move the car if necessary.

Susan said...

Ken: Thanks for the clarification of the French.

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