Living in the Languedoc: Driving: Bison
Traditionally, the French take their holidays in France.
Each year the northern French decamped en masse to the South
all on the same day at the begining of August and then returned,
all on the same day at the end of August. Predictably, this
caused appalling traffic jams, sometimes hundreds of miles
long. As a result the government decided to stagger holidays,
so the position is now slightly better. Another initiative
to reduce congestion is the Bison futé scheme.
Each year in June the French ministry of Transport issues
a map showing areas of congestion. It is called the Carte
de Bison futé (crafty bison map) - presumably the reference
is to great heards of shaggy beasts from the north making
seasonal mass migrations, none of them being bright enough
to workout alternative routes for themselves.
The map gives alternative routes indicated by yellow or green
signs. Copies are available free from petrol stations and
tourist information centres. Holiday routes are indicated
by green arrows allowing you to miss large towns and cities
There are some 90 information rest areas in France indicated
by a black "i" and an Information Bison Futé
sign. TV and radio announce how bad traffic jams are by a
system of colour codes: orange (bad), red (very bad), and
There is further advice, in French, on safety and on potential
traffic black spots during the holiday seasons on the French
Government-run website: http://www.bison-fute.equipement.gouv.fr.
Back to: Special Consideration in the Languedoc.
page: French Road Maps