* Lawsuits looking for a place to happen…

If France were as litigious as the US, their courts would be overwhelmed. It is a simple as that. When I arrived (and actually, as I have seen every time I have travelled here), I was in a constant state of amazement at the ignored hazards one encounters in every day living.

Some are big Рlike the picture on the right where a small child could drop 30 feet to the street by wiggling through a space that is too large.

Others are small – like the step below waiting for someone to trip. But whatever size, they are everywhere. (Click on the pictures to see enlargements).

The pictures on this page are from my almost daily trek to the Elementary School to pick up the children. The space that is too large and the bench with the wrought iron sticking out are both in the park where we sit and have our snack before walking home, down those stairs, avoiding the sharp-edged invitation to trip and fall or get cut.

My personal favorite is the Emergency Exit door at a recently renovated building up the street from me. Note the almost 2 ft drop to the sidewalk. I can just hear it now, “Well, the good news is that I wasn’t burned in the fire, but I broke both legs getting out!”

During the past year I have found myself shaking my head and tsk-tsking as I walk through the city on my adventures. Coming from the mindset of the lawsuit happy American, I just couldn’t understand why the French are not upset by all these hazards.

But, clearly, they are not. They simply do net see them as opportunities. In fact, they do not seem to see them at all. The prevailing sentiment is that the individual must use common sense, the parent must watch their child, and accidents will happen.

On the one hand the opportunities for injury scare me to death when I am with my grandchildren. That’s when I do the most tsk-tsking and head-shaking.

On the other, it is kind of interesting to be treated like a responsible adult.

Vive la France!