The local autoroute, which was built and opened to traffic during the first few years we lived here, runs east-west from Vierzon over to Anger and Nantes. The closest exchange is only 3 or 4 miles from our house. However, we hardly ever drive on autoroutes (interstates, expressways) any more, so when we do it's an eye-opening experience.
I'm always reminded that France doesn't really allow advertisers to put up big billboards along public roadways. And I'm reminded that the tolls are sky-high. The toll for the round-trip from Saint-Aignan to the toll booth for the Tours area, a total of about 70 miles, is 12 euros (US $13) if you take the autoroute. If you did that every day, it would really add up.
Add the cost of fuel for the car ($5 per gallon) to that, and it becomes cheaper to take the train. I guess that's the point. That's why there's not much traffic on the autoroute, too. As for billboards, here are a few of the ones you see when you drive the autoroute from Saint-Aignan over to Tours. And you can drive fast, as you see in this photo of our Citroën car's speedometer.
The official speed limit on the autoroute is 130 kph (kilometers per hour), which is the equivalent of 81 mph. That's what we had the car's régulateur de vitesse (cruise control) set for, and our actual speed when I took this photo was slightly above that. Even so, some cars were passing us, going even faster.
When we drive over to Tours, usually to go shopping at Ikea or the Paris Store Asian supermarket, we always drive the non-toll roads, where the speed limit is 90 kph (55 mph). It takes a lot longer, but it also costs a lot less — especially since the car uses a lot less fuel at lower speeds than at autoroute speeds. We're usually not in a big hurry.
So I enjoyed seeing these billboards, which are obviously designed to inform drivers from other regions and direct them toward the local tourist sights — châteaux, of course. Local people know all these places and how to get to them by taking the narrow, winding back roads. We were driving over to Chinon to get the new puppy, and the autoroute saved us about an hour of driving in each direction — two hours rather than four hours on the road.