Friday, September 25, 2009

We Have a Car!

Sunny and warm, Camping St. Michel, Courtils, France
By Claire
Our taxi arrived promptly at 2:07. A minivan with no Taxi sign, driven by a woman. I’m pretty sure it’s a private arrangement. She spoke no English so we just sat and watched the scenery. Soon, we were deposited at the door of Garage Roussel. We handed over the agreed €35—Jérome assured us no tip was required—in fact he looked puzzled when we asked—“The price is €35, why do you ask to pay more?”, bid her merci and au revoir and walked into the office.

It’s interesting doing business in a language you don’t understand. But, everything had been taken care of by Jérome so it was minimal paperwork; the woman in reception just copied our driver’s licenses and looked confused when we offered our International Driver’s Licenses with translation in French. She didn’t want our credit card but accepted €60 as deposit and off we went to look at the car. We went over all the dents which she had nicely marked on a drawing of a car, then the workings of the car. Chuck hopped in, started it up and then we realized we couldn’t open the windows. We tried everything but eventually had to wave her over. She showed us how and we were off. Not so fast. How to do the mirrors? She came over to the car once again. C’est obvious! Embarrassed, we drove 50 feet to a Lidl supermarket and loaded up. Also, it seemed a good place for me to practice. The lot was nearly empty.

I drove us home with no problem. In fact, it was fun. It’s a smallish Peugeot, diesel engine and 5 speed. It was the smallest they had until Monday so we went for it. The only hitch was that while I was waiting in the car while Chuck took the cart back, he went to the wrong car and couldn’t figure out why the door was locked.

We unloaded the groceries and decided to drive to St. Michel and do a drive by. We have no interest in fighting mobs of tourists inside the Abbey, walking past endless tourist shops. It was a 7 Km drive and quite pretty.

Mt. St. Michel, once again, in better weather

Home once again we decided we better find an ATM and get some money to pay for all these things. So, I asked Suzette for an ATM location. She found one 7 Km away in Avranches. No problem, I got us there easily with Chuck really enjoying being a passenger and able to look out the window. The town was old and crowded with cars; it was just after 5 pm. No parking anywhere until we came to an ATM with a space on the sidewalk literally 2 feet in front of it, just behind another car parked on the sidewalk. Chuck jumped out while I stayed in the car, just in case.

Just before pulling out, I looked up and saw a castle! We felt like we’d stumbled upon an unexpected treasure while all along, we just needed some cash.

We couldn’t believe it. Drove around a bit and finally found a legal place to park then walked all around and up and down the castle.

City view from the ramparts

We had a great time just wandering the town. In fact, we found a pharmacy, one of 3 within view of each other, where Chuck had a prescription filled that had been incorrectly filled at home. €5 for a two month supply. We even found and stopped by the Fiat place and talked to them about the delivery of the transmission and the fact that we’d like to be first in line to get the work done. They were very reassuring. So, probably Wednesday morning. Fingers crossed. I felt so comfortable driving around; we’ve been here long enough now that I feel like I know the area.

We made a nice dinner, opened a good bottle of wine and decided to sample the French version of Pepperidge Farms cookie assortment.

So, we’re done for the evening and looking forward to a car trip tomorrow.

In the meantime, here are my 1st and 2nd favorite shoes on the trip, both Keens:

Camping, €13
2 bag. +2 Croissants, €3.60
Taxi, €35
Groceries, €40.40
Car Deposit, €60
Pharmacy, €5.16

Total: €157.16

Our happiest moments as tourists always seem to come when we stumble upon one thing while in pursuit of something else. ~ Lawrence Block


Anonymous said...

Quel dommage concernant Homer! J'espaire que toute sera bien cette semaine! Bon voyage!

Carina a Davis

Chuck and Claire said...

Huh? Actually, I get the sentiment. Our French is still just ridiculous, unfortunately. Somehow we manage to survive, order food, shop for groceries and get car repairs!
Thanks for your thoughts Carina.