Yesterday afternoon brought two pieces of good news. First, melons are finally in season. What we call "melons" in France are like little cantaloupes. They're very sweet and juicy. They come from southern France, Spain, or North Africa.
I know they are in season because prices have come down. In May and June, even though temperatures were high and it felt like melon season, the price per melon was easily 1.50 or even 2.00 euros. Yesterday at SuperU they had French-grown melons for 95 (euro)cents apiece. It was time to buy some. I also got a few slices of good French-style country ham (think prosciutto) to eat with them. That's a classic appetizer here.
The other good news had to do with the car. I went out and started it yesterday afternoon to drive it over to my mechanic's, where I had a 4:00 p.m. appointment. To my surprise, the "check engine" light turned itself off after a minute or two. Walt had tried it on Wednesday and the light just stayed on. I didn't drive the car on Thursday.
I'm happy the light went off because when I talked to the mechanic, he said that the check engine staying on means that the car's calculateur needs to be replaced. A new calculateur, installed, costs about a thousand euros — nearly $1500 U.S. at current rates. Le calculateur is the car engine's computer, or ECU — Engine Control Unit. I had a Subaru back in California that needed a new ECU, and it was priced at about $650 — nearly twenty years ago.
Now I just have to keep an eye on the check-engine light and see if it comes on again. The mechanic said the problem might have been the very hot weather we had last Monday afternoon. That's when it happened, and the temperature was about 100ºF at the time. I was out driving, because I had a doctor's appointment in Blois. And I was blasting the AC.
This afternoon, I drove the car pretty hard, accelerating quickly and shifting late, to see if the warning light might come on again. It didn't. Let's hope it stays that way. The Peugeot 206 is a good vehicle. Mine will be 11 years old at Christmas, so it's no spring chicken. The 206 has been the best-selling car in France, and maybe in Europe overall, for ten years or more.
For comparison, a Peugeot 206, a hatchback, is about six inches longer than the Mini Cooper (made by BMW now), but two feet shorter than a Honda Civic. It's a lot bigger than a Smart car, but still it's a subcompact. The down side of the small size is that legroom in the back seat is pretty tight, and the trunk isn't spacious. It's really a two-passenger car that can haul four or five passengers in a pinch. The back seats fold down flat to create a much larger trunk.
But the diesel model I have has a big engine for the car's size. It's a 2-liter diesel engine and gets between 45 and 50 miles to the gallon of diesel fuel. It has automatic air-conditioning — you just set the temperature you want and it does the work — and automatic wipers activated by a sensor that detects water on the windshield. It's too bad they don't sell Peugeots in the U.S.
I'd like to keep the 206 for another ten years, if possible, and eventually as a second car. It has about 160K km/100K miles on the odometer, but it should do twice that many or more before the engine gives out. I keep it in the garage in the wintertime so it doesn't suffer too much from the cold, damp weather. And Walt and I don't drive more than five or six thousand miles (8 to 10K km) a year.
I already know that I want my next car to be a Citroën. You may not be aware that Citroën, which was acquired by Peugeot many years ago, makes modern, comfortable, reliable, good-looking cars. The company was famous for its 2CV and DS models years ago, not to mention the famous Traction Avant. It still makes a full line of good automobiles today.