It is a sad, sad day for many French drivers (unless you are Parisians). Starting from this today there will no longer be regional difference in the license plates that are issued. This has been a wild and passionate debate among traditionalist who are sad to see one of their manifestation of regional pride disappear. Those who are not so unhappy about this are the Parisian who will no longer be able to be easily identified, and therefore targeted, outside of Paris.
In France the last two digits of a license plate represent the department that someone lives in. There are a hundred stereotypes associated with the numbers and therefore, the regions. Having lived in France, I can 100% attest to their existence. I swear the very FIRST thing other drivers do is look to see where they are from. This makes all the difference in the world when it comes to tolerance for passing, speeding, yielding, etc.
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A Parisian is not likely to be treated well outside of Paris. Someone from the Parisian suburbs will be snubbed because they are a 92 (Hauts-de-Seine) or a 94 (Val-de-Marne) and not a true 75 (Paris).
Someone from Burgandy (33) will automatically be suspected of driving drunk.
Someone from Corsica (2A/2B) will be regarded suspiciously as a terrorist.
We lived in L’Ain (01) which because of its proximity to Switzerland, was considered “slow!” We, however, did not live up to the stereotype.
These numbers are going away to be replaced with randomized numbers like in the U.S. One concession is that people can add regional stickers representing their department, but anyone can get one for any department, so it is not a true indication of location, but still it acknowledges regional pride.
Does anyone do the same thing when they see license plates from particular U.S. state?