Expat blogger Libby got her first-ever parking ticket in Luxembourg. So you don’t suffer the same fate, here are the facts about parking in Luxembourg.
Getting a parking ticket in Luxembourg
Last week I got my first parking ticket ever.
There must have been a major disturbance in the force, because I got the parking ticket during yoga class. The sun always shines brighter and the grass grows greener during yoga class, so I don’t know how it was possible for me to attract a parking ticket. Odd.
The parking ticket was such a surprise that at first, I didn’t think it was for real. I thought it was an advertisement that was made to look like a parking ticket so that everyone would open it up and read what was inside (not a bad idea, by the way). And yet no one else had a parking ticket besides me. Hmm.
After staring at it for several seconds, I got into the car, opened and read the ticket, and then continued to stare with my jaw dropped for another minute or two. A parking ticket? For what? I was parked in a legal space, I hadn’t exceeded the time I was allowed to park, I was using a parking disc*, and I had just been to yoga class, where all is always well. What in the heck?!
The reason listed on the parking ticket was, from what I could understand of the bureaucrat French, “Failure to park with a parking disc”. Fine: EUR 24.
Again, jaw droppage and staring. It’s possible that I stared so long that a bit of dribble started to flow from the corner of my mouth.
Failure to park with a parking disc? But the ticket had been placed on top of my parking disc! The ticketer would have had to have seen it! Of all the…
My first instinct was to take as many pictures as possible for evidence. Without moving my parking disc, I got back out of the car and snapped some shots of the dashboard. Failure to park with a parking disc…hah! I’d show them!
The two-day appeals process
On the way home I dictated the awesomest appeal letter I could compose. (Unfortunately no one was taking dictation, but it felt good anyway.) After talking it over with my husband, we decided, however, that I should appeal my ticket at the police station in person instead, as you have only two days to appeal (and who knows if a letter would ever arrive in time. Plus, in Luxembourg, people seem to prefer personal contact to impersonal correspondence).
So the next day I went to the police station. It wasn’t an inconvenience at all; I only had two other appointments on two opposite ends of town that day, but I was glad to make the trip (*cough*bull*cough*). Since parking spots weren’t clearly marked at the station – and I would be darned to get another ticket while going to protest my first ticket – I decided to park extremely far away and walk to the station instead.
I arrived to find – and somehow I could simultaneously believe my eyes while not believing my eyes – that the police station was closed. Yes, closed. Sure – I could have been standing there with a knife sticking out from between my ribs, but I would have been out of luck…the police station has opening hours from 8am–10am and 4pm-–6pm.
No, I am not making this up.
So I shlepped myself and my pregnant belly back to my car; 4–6pm, eh? Sure, I could make that. I would just leave two hours early for my second appointment and take a huge detour to the police station on the way. Awesome.
I showed up at 5:00pm to find that the door to the police station was still locked. I pressed what I thought was the doorbell, only to realise after a second that I had really hit the emergency call button.
But despite my worries, everything was fine – because no one answered the emergency call button. It rang three times and then I got a tone similar to a busy signal.
Yes, once again, I could have had a knife in my back, an eyeball ripped out of its socket, a ready-to-detonate weapon of mass destruction, a kidnapped toddler in my car and a loaded bazooka pointed at the Grand Duke himself, and no one would have been there.
But it serves me right. Whaddya think this is, New York City?
[Sigh] Eventually, a police man did come out. He wedged the door open with a chair and asked me to come in.
I decided to play the innocent-pregnant-lady card rather than the pissed-off-German card. Of course I don’t like to use my poor unborn child to help me get out of parking tickets, but I figured it was my best defense.
I explained nicely to the police officer that I was confused as to why I had received a ticket when I had used a parking disc.
He had obviously heard this story before, and pointed to two tattered photocopies hung on the glass doors of the entry desk (which has probably been unmanned since the police station was built in 1984). He explained that, of course, I had been using a white parking disc, however, the white parking disc is only for places within the Luxembourg city limits. For places outside Luxembourg, I had to use a blue parking disc. One of the discs shows when you arrive. The other disc shows when you plan to leave. One of the discs is in German. The other disc is in French. And, most importantly: one of the discs is blue, while the other one is white. “It’s really no problem,” he finished. “All you have to do is go to the post office and pay the ticket.”
(Right. Because in Luxembourg we don’t pay tickets like normal people, we go to the post office to do it. Have I mentioned that you also get telephone, cable TV, and even train tickets at the post office?)
Of course, I nodded. That makes total sense, I said, smiling. Now I know. Thanks for explaining it to me.
Luxembourg’s two-disc parking rules
And now to explain it to you (because I’m fairly certain that most of you won’t know this, even if you live in Luxembourg):
If you live in Luxembourg, you apparently need two parking discs. One of them is blue, and Yours Truly just assumed that it wasn’t used here because it’s the exact same parking disc that is used in Germany. It says ‘Ankunftszeit’, or ‘Time of Arrival’, and it is – I repeat – blue. You use it everywhere BUT the city, I assume, although the city’s website only specifically mentions the communes of Strassen, Walferdange, and Hesperange.
For places within the city limits, non-residents cannot park for free during the day, but rather need to pay for a ticket at the designated machine (be sure to pay attention to the signs that designate the zone and the color of the zone in which you’ve parked!) and display it in their front window.
City residents, on the other hand, should have a parking vignette for their district of residence. If they’re parking in the zone for which they have a vignette, they can park there for free. If they’re in another zone within the city limits, they can use the white parking disc and park for free for up to two hours in conjunction with their residential vignette. To make things less confusing (hardy har har), the white disc has French on it. And says ‘Heure de Depart’, or ‘Time of Departure’. Which means you have to say when you’re planning on leaving, not when you arrived.*
Because obviously, time is different when it’s indicated in French. And when the parking disc is white. Time is not time is not time. Theoretically it should be enough for you to write the time you arrived on the back of a gas station receipt and put that in your window, but I’m pretty sure that would get you a parking ticket too.
Geez, people, don’t you get it?
I had to laugh. Really. I wasn’t even bitter. Because I can appreciate that this way of doing things is so absolutely, genuinely, and uniquely Luxembourgish to its core – in its convolutedness, mixture of languages, and the fact that it’s explained no where for anyone who hasn’t been born here – that it was impossible to be mad. I figured that any place that could be so darned creative about free parking deserved an ‘A’ for effort. And a EUR 24 donation from me, their loyal citizen, as a reward.
So for those of you living here, I hope you have read and understood the rules (it can’t be that well known or they wouldn’t have those photocopies up at the police station). I also hope you have a blue German parking disc. For those of you who don’t live here, remember this:
You may not have health insurance, a job, or a pot to pee in, but your police station is probably open 24/7…just in case.
…Although I bet your policemen aren’t quite as creative as ours.
For information about the residential vignettes and the use of the parking discs (in French), see also www.vdl.lu
*A parking disc is used in zones where you can park for free for a given period of time, such as a maximum of 20 minutes, an hour, or more. You move the disc to indicate when you arrived at the spot, so the police know how long you’ve been parked there.
Photo credit: Ildar Sagdejev (parking ticket).