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Tree:Kite::Tunnel:Van
March 16, 2010 10:56 PM   Subscribe

A tunnel in Paris becomes famous

Just a few meters from Place Charles de Gaulle, better known as Place de l'Etoile, at the bottom (or top, depending on your direction) of the Champs Elysées, there's the entrance to a tunnel, called Tunnel de l'Etoile, which passes under the square, to relieve the 6-lane roundabout (or, ronde-point) from some of the traffic. Everything's ok except for one small detail: the entrance is just 8 feet high, and van drivers zipping across Paris apparently don't have much of a feeling for signage. (link above is in French, machine translation to English here)
posted by _dario (73 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite

 
The little-known French taste for subdued slapstick continues apace.
posted by The Whelk at 11:02 PM on March 16, 2010 [4 favorites]


That's awesome. The world has many accident hot spots, but few so picturesque and laughably harmless. Avis truck rental insurance must be high in Paris.
posted by stbalbach at 11:05 PM on March 16, 2010


FOLK-DEATH-GOTHIC-TUNNEL!!!
posted by XMLicious at 11:16 PM on March 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


they're the opening act!
posted by The Whelk at 11:16 PM on March 16, 2010


Hmmm... do they say "Avis" in France, or "Ahhvee"?
posted by sbutler at 11:29 PM on March 16, 2010


the SERIAL-TUNNEL graphic made me chuckle
posted by idiopath at 11:41 PM on March 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


We have these things in America, they dangle and if your truck hits them you hear them and go "ah, my truck, it will not fit" and you call off the attack. We call them: the dangling things.
posted by user92371 at 11:41 PM on March 16, 2010 [43 favorites]


<pedant>based on the domain name, I'm guessing that it's closer to 7.87 feet high.</pedant>
posted by milnak at 11:43 PM on March 16, 2010


I think it's "ahvEe"; "avis" in French means "notice", they're used to seeing it posted everywhere. It's also the name of the largest blood donor society in Italy, which leads to various amused remarks by the visiting french.

(Whelk: yes, it's straight out of a Jacques Tati movie)
posted by _dario at 11:46 PM on March 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Logically another percussion is expected before the end of the month.
posted by drjimmy11 at 11:56 PM on March 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Vis-à-vis Avis.
posted by davejay at 12:02 AM on March 17, 2010 [7 favorites]


lol, some of those trucks aren't even close to making it.
posted by smoke at 12:11 AM on March 17, 2010


Ahem...
posted by delmoi at 12:18 AM on March 17, 2010 [17 favorites]


user92371. In the UK we sometimes have a metal bar suspended on chains to give drivers a little warning.
posted by gallagho at 12:19 AM on March 17, 2010


(actually this picture shows what I was linking too better)

Back to the bridge in question, you would think with how beat up the warning sign is, people would get the picture.
posted by delmoi at 12:21 AM on March 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Business must be booming in the DANGER HORS GAPARIT sector of signage.
posted by tmt at 12:33 AM on March 17, 2010 [5 favorites]


Yeah, I don't understand why they're not hanging a couple of signs well before the tunnel. Make it about 10 centimeters shorter than the tunnel height. If you dangle some chains from the sign it'll make enough noise to get a driver's attention.

Or since this is 2010 they could have an infrared or visible laser curtain that measures the height of the truck long before entering the tunnel. If the truck or bus is too tall it can trigger a bunch of strobe lights and a bunch of ultra bright LED warning signs blinking "Arrêter! Vous stupide fils de pute!"

Either way, if a driver still hits the damn tunnel maybe they shouldn't be driving heavy commercial vehicles in the first place.

Then again maybe they should just remove all the signs and install metal spikes, a really sharp metal shearing blade or giant chain saws or something. Just slice the roof off the truck and let it keep driving like nothing happened.
posted by loquacious at 12:35 AM on March 17, 2010 [6 favorites]


The blogger is a pretty funny writer - "Illumination de noël, des guirlandes et des gyrophares" roughly translates as "Christmas lights, garlands, and flashing emergency lights."

I must say, gyrophares is an excellent word.

There is something about this that seems like a Franquin comic, as if LaGaffe is keeping notes on the recurrent police officer character's attempts to ticket him, or some such. It also brings Buster Keaton to mind, for reasons not as clear to me.
posted by mwhybark at 12:54 AM on March 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


is it me or is pretty much every famous Paris tunnel only noteworthy because of its crashes?
posted by borborygmi at 12:55 AM on March 17, 2010


I seem to remember that the sign over the Manhattan entrance to the Holland Tunnel used to read
12'6" WE MEAN IT
posted by nicwolff at 12:57 AM on March 17, 2010


Judging from the last post, le sign gets periodically replaced (and regularly smashed shortly afterwards):
"A 11h26 le panneau était neuf, à 12h50, il est déjà abîmé"
(it was new at 11.26am, at 12.50 it was already damaged)

how cute is it that you say "damaged" with abîmé? I find it's trés mignon. On the other hand, mimolette sounds supercute, too.
posted by _dario at 1:01 AM on March 17, 2010


I wonder if the Google StreetView van tried to go through the tunnel.
posted by destrius at 1:41 AM on March 17, 2010


I wonder if the Google StreetView van tried to go through the tunnel.

It didn't. This is the closest you can get on Street View.
posted by Mwongozi at 2:38 AM on March 17, 2010


to relieve the 6-lane roundabout

Which itself is a source of endless entertainment.
posted by three blind mice at 2:59 AM on March 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Responding to the question about pronouncing Avis in French: the company is pronounced "Ah-vees" or "Ay-vees" depending on how much English the French speaker knows. The "s" is indeed vocalized to differentiate from the French word "avis" ("opinion"). And the short "i" is never the English "ih" sound though because as far as I can tell from my decade here, it's just not a sound the French get... I have a few friends who've managed to nearly get an "ih" after much crazy laughing sessions with me hollering, "IH!! NOT EEEE, ZAT EEZ FRAYNCH! IH! IH!! IT, IS, IH!!!"

Anyway. (And I mean all that in good spirits, there are sounds in other languages I just don't "get" either.)

I enjoyed the guy's sense of humor on his blog too. The title itself is a play on words: "un blog impactant", because like in English, "impact" has become a synonym for "effect". It certainly does leave an impact :)

Got a good laugh out of the "plus de 4000 véhicules" too. In French, depending on how you pronounce "plus", it can mean "more than" or "less/fewer than". (With the "s" vocalized, it means "more than"; with a silent "s" it means "less/fewer than".) For the second Avis truck, he jokes about the slogan: we know full well that there are fewer than 4000 trucks available to rent now, "at best there are 3998!" (Obviously the slogan is meant to be interpreted as "more than 4000", but the photos make it hilariously easy to interpret otherwise.)
posted by fraula at 3:21 AM on March 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


I should add, to say "less/fewer than" you also word it as "plus que", whereas "more than" is "plus de", like the slogan. When spoken, people can mix them up, so the different pronunciation helps clarify.
Also, too, I said "too" too much in my previous comment, sigh.

posted by fraula at 3:26 AM on March 17, 2010


The usual solution to the puzzle of the stuck truck is to let some air out of the tires.
posted by twoleftfeet at 3:28 AM on March 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


<spelling-police>It's rond-point, both "d" and "t" are silent.
Move on now, there's nothing to see here.</spelling-police>
posted by surrendering monkey at 3:54 AM on March 17, 2010


<pronunciation-police>Hi, I've been called by a colleague from the spelling police. Apparently someone's having trouble with the word "plus". "Plus de 4000..." will mean "more than 4000..." regardless of the final "s" being silent or not, bearing in mind that it should be silent. The "s" is vocalised for the arithmetic operator (2 plus 2) or when used as "more". One could say "Je voudrais plus de mimolette." (I'd like more mimolette) whereas if you mean "no more", the "s" becomes silent, as in "Je ne veux plus de mimolette" (No more mimolette for me).</pronunciation-police>
posted by surrendering monkey at 4:04 AM on March 17, 2010 [4 favorites]


Tunnels here in Pittsburgh have over-height detectors that cause alarms to go off as a truck is approaching and all traffic is stopped so the truck can U-turn. They tend to be 13+ feet high though, not 8 so it's only tractor trailers that set it off. We did have issues this winter with snow on the top of trucks setting off the alarms constantly.
posted by octothorpe at 4:32 AM on March 17, 2010


I can almost hear it:

[crunch!] MERDE!!
posted by bwg at 4:41 AM on March 17, 2010


otothorpe, maybe that wasn't such a bad thing.
posted by lester at 5:26 AM on March 17, 2010


whoops--careful with my link. it's got a graphic photo.
posted by lester at 5:27 AM on March 17, 2010


" Catégories:
Classic-touch
Combo dommages collatéraux
Extra-style-bonus
"

There's nothing about that blog that isn't great.
posted by ardgedee at 5:46 AM on March 17, 2010


This doesn't look like lighthearted fun. Incredible that nobody was seriously injured.
posted by ardgedee at 5:52 AM on March 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


MORE COWBELL!
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:32 AM on March 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


There are a few extremely low clearances on Storrow Drive in Boston - it's a cars only roadway though, so it shouldn't be an issue. However, every year at the end of the semester twenty million college kids go careening around town in Ryder box trucks full of IKEA and Dave Matthews Band posters and, invariably, several of them will blunder out onto Storrow Drive, and God help them if they are in the outer lane.
posted by dirtdirt at 6:42 AM on March 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


FOLK-DEATH-GOTHIC-TUNNEL !!!
posted by shakespeherian at 7:10 AM on March 17, 2010


I wonder how much publicity this gets in Paris. As it's a recurring problem, lots of people are apparently not watching the news.
posted by inmediasres at 7:10 AM on March 17, 2010


Brilliant.
posted by WPW at 7:22 AM on March 17, 2010


They need to install a traffic cam on this spot so someone can make a video set to bad techno music.
posted by orme at 7:25 AM on March 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yes, I know it's not a truck ... But at the time I thought everything was as usual the police van parked at the Starsky and Hutch, emergency lights, fire ...

what
posted by jimmythefish at 7:26 AM on March 17, 2010


jimmythefish , the original text says "à la Starsky et Hutch", which in this case is more correctly translated as "Starsky-and-Hutch-style". And yes, the series was hugely successful in France, and French cops appear to have watched it much too much...
posted by Skeptic at 7:33 AM on March 17, 2010


Every year on college move in day in Boston there's a betting pool on when the first moving van will hit a bridge on Storrow Drive. Perhaps we need a blog too.
posted by Rarebit Fiend at 7:48 AM on March 17, 2010


It's like that tunnel is designed to eat tourist busses. Driving in Paris is stressful enough, and Etoile is famously stressful. So you're visiting from out of the country, and you've got your route all planned to go through this tunnel that lets you bypass the scary roundabout. What could possibly go wrong? (Doesn't excuse the local bread truck, though).

Still not as famous as Pont d'Alma, I fear.
posted by Nelson at 7:49 AM on March 17, 2010


user92371: "We have these things in America, they dangle and if your truck hits them you hear them and go "ah, my truck, it will not fit" and you call off the attack. We call them: the dangling things."

Thanks, MetaFilter, for making me spend 10 minutes screwing with Google Street View to get a picture of the dangling things.
posted by joshwa at 7:59 AM on March 17, 2010


The author of the blog appears in this video, speaking in French.
posted by knapah at 8:30 AM on March 17, 2010


OK, never mind the bloody tunnel. Let's hear more about the Russian folk-metal band! Maybe they could do a concert at the Folk-Death-Gothic Tunnel?
posted by happyroach at 8:41 AM on March 17, 2010


Having hit the dangling thing with my rental truck in the parking garage at work, I can testify that they are awesome. Thank you, dangling thing.
posted by jewzilla at 9:21 AM on March 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


If the truck or bus is too tall it can trigger a bunch of strobe lights and a bunch of ultra bright LED warning signs blinking "Arrêter! Vous stupide fils de pute!"

So, basically, your plan is to trigger an epileptic seizure, then finish them off with awful, awful grammar? ("To stop! Ye son stupid of whore!")

And the short "i" is never the English "ih" sound though because as far as I can tell from my decade here, it's just not a sound the French get...

This is one of many reasons the French have trouble understanding Quebecois. Ah, the French. But what are you gonna do?
posted by Sys Rq at 9:25 AM on March 17, 2010


Expect a tasteless "you know who else" joke in 5... 4... 3...
posted by Sys Rq at 9:26 AM on March 17, 2010


Thanks, MetaFilter, for making me spend 10 minutes screwing with Google Street View to get a picture of the dangling things.

I feel like a sentence involving the terms "screwing" and "picture of dangling things" should be more salacious than that.
posted by quin at 9:29 AM on March 17, 2010 [4 favorites]


"A tunnel in Paris becomes famous"

Apparently, not nearly famous enough.
posted by paulsc at 9:52 AM on March 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ahem...

Good idea, but functionally impossible to translate into French.
posted by squalor at 10:02 AM on March 17, 2010


In my neck of the woods--the "Gregson St. Guillotine."
posted by halcyon_daze at 10:12 AM on March 17, 2010


I feel like a sentence involving the terms "screwing" and "picture of dangling things" should be more salacious than that.

Heh. It was enough to get blocked by my firewall at work.

By the way, we have one of these in Seattle. Clicking through that, I found a story about a bus of school children that ran into this bridge sending 12 kids to the hospital, the driver blamed his GPS for sending him on that route. Seattle City Council to pass law requiring GPS to list height limits in 3...2...1...
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 10:24 AM on March 17, 2010


It happens here too.
Just not 'serially.'
posted by Capt Jingo at 10:26 AM on March 17, 2010


surrendering monkey's exposition on "ploose / plooh" used to indicate "more" or "no more" in verbal usage was fascinating. It is what comes out of my mouth when I use the word but it's not something I ever recall having been taught as a rule. Perhaps my French is deeper-seated than I realized.
posted by mwhybark at 11:00 AM on March 17, 2010


Just to answer those who went "stupid Frenchies, in the US we have these dangly bits", one of the entries says the dept of the Architecte des Bâtiments de France refuses to add one of them as it would unpretty the Champs:

Autre info , c’est la faute des ABF (Archi des batiments de france), qui s’acharnent à refuser tous les projets de pose de portique pour cause “de dégradation visuelle du site”

PS Very cool find!
posted by ClarissaWAM at 12:33 PM on March 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


There needs to be a web site that collects truck eating structures around the world....
posted by warbaby at 12:50 PM on March 17, 2010


orme: They need to install a traffic cam on this spot so someone can make a video set to bad techno music.

Or the ever-popular Benny Hill theme.
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:03 PM on March 17, 2010


ClarissaWAM, thanks for finding that answer. I wonder if deepening the floor of the tunnel would offend their sensibilities...
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:05 PM on March 17, 2010


Yeah, I don't understand why they're not hanging a couple of signs well before the tunnel. Make it about 10 centimeters shorter than the tunnel height. If you dangle some chains from the sign it'll make enough noise to get a driver's attention.

Most likely because some asshole bureaucrats don't want to despoil the precious Champs-Élysées with "tacky" safety signs that will block everyone's view of the Arc de Triomphe.
posted by dgaicun at 1:21 PM on March 17, 2010


And yet another site
posted by warbaby at 1:27 PM on March 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Or since this is 2010 they could have an infrared or visible laser curtain that measures the height of the truck long before entering the tunnel. If the truck or bus is too tall it can trigger a bunch of strobe lights and a bunch of ultra bright LED warning signs blinking 'Arrêter! Vous stupide fils de pute!'"

Even that kind of thing tends to have limited success.
posted by Mitheral at 2:49 PM on March 17, 2010


What I found most hilarious was the lament of the longest-suffering sign in France. It's the Wile E. Coyote of road signs, absorbing a never-ending torrent of abuse with a silent sigh and a plaintive look.
posted by bicyclefish at 3:12 PM on March 17, 2010


Man, it's great to hear that the French are just as fucking stupid as anybody else. Here I was getting all jealous of their champs and bocage and pastries and shit.
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:25 PM on March 17, 2010


Greg_Ace: Or the ever-popular Benny Hill theme.

Ou en français, Yacqueté Sacques.
posted by hangashore at 4:02 PM on March 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


Greg_Ace: "orme: They need to install a traffic cam on this spot so someone can make a video set to bad techno music.

Or the ever-popular Benny Hill theme .
"

Please, not that.
posted by bwg at 7:13 PM on March 17, 2010


What I found most hilarious was the lament of the longest-suffering sign in France.

Interesting.
1. The sign is entirely in French, which pan-EU drivers may not understand.
2. Most of the sign is devoted to DANGER HORS GABARIT, whatever that means, with the actually pertinent information--the clearance height--shrunken relatively teeny-tiny so it'd fit in that little red circle way off to the side.

What's the speed limit there, btw? How hard would it be to stop a big truck traveling x km/h down such a steep incline? Would it even be possible in the ~20m available prior to the tunnel?
posted by Sys Rq at 7:42 PM on March 17, 2010


I'd hit it.
posted by newmoistness at 7:57 PM on March 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


...don't want to despoil the precious Champs-Élysées with "tacky" safety signs

Actually it is because of the back-ordering on safety signs. They're not done yet tackying up the countryside with the "how long have you been driving?" "take a break every two hours" and "you do NOT have right of way" signs (had a bit of a trip today Versailles/Rennes).
posted by whatzit at 12:43 PM on March 18, 2010


I bet they don't have a version of that old Connecticut sign:
ARE YOU DYING FOR A SMOKE?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:30 PM on March 18, 2010


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