14 Jan 2008
When we bought our first French car, it still carried Paris plates. Out here in the rural wilds of the Orne, the number '75' in the registration drew stares of disapproval and scorn. Even the British are better liked than Parisians. We made sure to get the plates changed to a local registration - as is demanded by law - as fast as we could.
Every french département is numbered, mostly in alphabetic order so that neighbouring regions generally have wildly different numbers. Kids generally learn this numbering system by playing registration spotting games while on trips - which also has the benefit of keeping them amused during long journeys.
When the idea of doing away with local registrations was first mooted, to conform to EU regulations, most french people simply dismissed it as unlikely. Just a few months ago, when we bought our most recent car, the garage owner scoffed at the very idea of change.
But now it seems it is really about to happen. Parisians will not longer have reason to feel superior. We country yokels will have no occasion for inverted snobbery. Another strain of french snootiness will disappear forever. I can't imagine anyone will really miss it.