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Monthly Archives: December 2013


I didn’t grow up in Europe, and by the time I started driving in Europe, I was over 30 years old and had been driving for over a decade. I fancy myself as kind of a “rules” guy – I try to follow the rules as much as I can, mostly out fear of reprisal (fines) than because I think it’s a good thing to do, but anyway….

It took me forever to really pay attention to the concept of parking in Europe, with the blue lined parking spaces, the white lined ones and so on. I got a lot of parking fines early on. Confused and surprised every single time.

So, finally I learned that with the blue parking spaces, one needed to place the blue parking disc, indicating the hour of arrival. But, I never arrived at :00 or :30, so imagine me trying desperately to accurately gauge on my blue disc, *where* exactly 14:17 was. I tried valiantly and I think I did a good job, but the inaccuracy really bugged me.

So, I asked the people handing out parking tickets.

“How should I set the disc when I park between :00 and :30, which is most of the time?”

“Always set the disc to be the *next* half hour mark, be it :00 or :30.”

Oh! Really? Awesome! So, if I arrive at 16:01, I set it for 16:30. If I arrive at 15:59, then I wait 2 minutes in the car and *then* set it for 16:30.

My recollection is that I asked the parking attendants follow-up questions, but I can’t be sure. In any case, for about two years since that day, I’ve been trying hard to arrive about :01 or :31 so that I could set the disc forward 29 minutes and the have 90 minutes *beyond* that for parking. (See where this is going?)

Well, it worked pretty well for me. Until recently.

I returned to my car recently with a ticket, but it was well within the time I had set. I completely didn’t understand why I had a ticket. And, let’s be honest, these parking people are not always on the up and up, but that’s another story.

So, I asked a local merchant, who seemed to agree with my complaint and said I should talk to the local Mairie as they contract the firm to patrol parked cars. This, I did. I marched right over there and presented my ticket and said, “I’m within my 90 minutes; why did they erroneously give me a ticket?”

To her credit, the young woman showed me the error of my ways.

It seems that the parking signs all say “MAX 90 minutes, meaning that you might be permitted to park *less* than 90 minutes. Grrrrr.

So, *yes* you round UP to the next :00 or :30, but you only get 60 minutes from that marked time. After that, and you’ve overstayed your welcome. And, she showed me the disc that they hand out which explains it clearly on the back. For the full details for Geneva (and presumably all of Switzerland, if not Europe?), go read the Blue Zone page on the Official Site for the City of Geneva.

Oh, but the two hour lunch doesn’t count. 😉 Of course.