Tuesday 18th September
After a very lazy morning and a grocery shop, (not that much is needed, just bread, pate, hummus and a salad to keep it balanced) and fuel up, we are making our way towards Paris. 3rd time lucky, so if you have been following us you would have realized that we have managed to miss this city twice now the first time when flights were changed on us by Air France way back in April and the 2nd when we got sidetracked in The South of France and ran out of time to get back to the UK for appointments, so this is it.
Now after a lot of discussion and searching for sites to stay (most campsites in Paris are in excess of 40euro/night) we have decided to head for Versailles as there is a day park not far from the castle that seems to be very lenient towards overnighting, (so we have been reliably informed, Thank You Jan).
However Versailles is completely on the other side of Paris to us and the A6 motorway that rings Paris is regarded as Europe’s equivalent of Beijing traffic. Also from where we are there are toll roads standing in our way, and paying tolls puts a dent in the food account and the first thing to go out of that account is alcohol, so no way Jacinda.
Miss Stella magnificently directed by Susie and the map book take us in a roundabout route Coulommiers and Melun to name a couple of the towns we passed through until total confusion occurred in the cab including a near melt down by the driver (me) and we jumped on the A6 just after rush hour for the final 20 odd kms into Versailles. Actually quite easy in hindsight.
Arriving at our destination Alles de Matots, which is a street that essentially services the entry to the Ministry of Defense (sounds safe enough) and the overnight park for all the “not in service” public buses from Versailles.
The couple of downsides to this happened in 2 stages the first being the carpark itself is basically a dirt track around the outside of the Defense fence, and “needing attention” takes on a whole new meaning here, obviously gets pretty muddy in the winter as the very deep holes tell us.
On the other side of this is that the French drivers have no idea how to park let alone back, indecision about where to park, which way to park and how to communicate with others parking at the same time gets to an all new level. Our simple observation of this became a little first hand on day 2 when a young lady parked between the trees on the opposite side of said dirt track was backing out of her park.
This was in the evening and we had settled down with a beer and a book when, Miss Stella gave an involuntary “hiccup”, how anyone can not see a 7m white motorhome in their rear vision mirror is beyond us, especially when it was there when she parked her car several hours ago and was still in exactly the same place when she walked passed it to get into her own car before engaging reverse and giving us a gentle “kiss”. Just to assure Miss Stella’s new owners who may well be reading this, Miss Stella is all A OK. (1 very confused looking young lady as though we had jumped out behind her all of a sudden)
Once again sidetracked with a story, the second downside became apparent at about 6.30pm and lasted until about 8.00pm and then occurred again in the small hours, as the buses returned from their busy day, the drivers were obviously in a hurry to get home that coincided with a right hand corner that needed rapid de-acceleration followed by heavy footed re-acceleration and a massive pothole just to make sure the right hand side suspension was capable of full travel.
At 6.00am the process was pretty much reversed.