We got the Peugeot back from the mechanic's yesterday. He had his crew purge the brake fluid (le liquide de freins), inspect the front brake disks, and replace the brake pads (les plaquettes). Both Peugeot and Citroën recommend that the brake fluid be changed every two years, no matter how few kilometers you've driven in that time. That seems excessif to me, but what do I know?
The fact is that the brake fluid on the Peugeot had never been changed over the 12 years that I've owned it. So now it's done. Dominique, the mechanic, said he didn't really think the brake pads needed replacing, but he did it anyway. It had been nearly 10 years since they had been replaced, I imagine. We don't really drive the Peugeot hard or for long distances, but it feels good to have this maintenance done. It cost only about 135 euros.
A week from tomorrow, I'll be driving up to Paris to pick up CHM and bring him to Saint-Aignan via Nogent-le-Rotrou, Bellême, Mortagne-au-Perche, and Alençon. That's a big detour, and we'll spend a night in a hotel in Mortagne before driving back down to Saint-Aignan. It's a three-hour drive from Paris to Alençon in lower Normandy, but we'll want to spend some time sight-seeing and we'll make a day of it. Then it's a three-hour drive from Alençon to Saint-Aignan, and again we'll make a day of it and spend some time seeing towns, villages, châteaux, and churches along the way.
This is the Citroën [see-tro-enn], not the Peugeot [peuh-zhoh].
I'll be driving the recently acquired Citroën up to Paris, and I'm a little nervous about driving in the city again. I did it last year, and I've done it many many times in the past, but it just gets harder and harder. My reflexes are not what they used to be. There is more traffic. And this car is wider and longer than the little Peugeot, so I'm still getting used to driving it in tight spaces. All spaces in Paris are tight when it comes to cars.
Last night I started looking at web sites about parking your car in Paris to remind myself of the rules and regulations. In past years, parking in residential areas like the one where CHM has his apartment was always free on Saturdays, Sundays, and public holidays. Well, I learned that all that has now changed. There is no such thing as free street-parking in Paris on Saturdays since January 1, 2015. Sundays and holidays, yes, but not Saturdays...
Parking (le stationnement) in central Paris costs four euros, or about five dollars, per hour. In the more residential outer districts, it's 2.40€ an hour, from 9 a.m. until 8 p.m., or 26.40€ (nearly $30) for the 11-hour parking day. Make that 44€, nearly $50, in the more congested central districts. Residents who have paid for a sticker to put on their car get a break on those rates. Visitors like me are supposed to be discouraged from driving and parking in the city.
This is Saint-Aignan, not Paris. Park wherever you want.
Okay, so I can pay the 15 or 20 euros it would cost me to park the car for, say, 8 or 9 hours on the Saturday, assuming I arrive in Paris between 11 a.m. and noon. It's a one-time expense, right? The bigger problem is that it is illegal to leave your car in the same curbside parking space for more than two hours. If you don't move it and look for a different parking space every two hours, you can get a parking ticket requiring payment of a hefty fine. So if I park at noon, I'll have to move the car at 2, 4, and 6. That means staying in the neighborhood all day, and crossing your fingers that you will find a new parking space each time without too much trouble.
The other solution is an underground parking garage. I just found one in CHM's neighborhood by searching on the internet. The web page says I can park from 11 a.m. on Saturday until early Sunday morning for 16 euros. So that sounds like a good deal, if it works out. I can reserve a space ahead of time. From 11:30 p.m. until 6:30 a.m. the garage is locked up, so I won't be able to take the car out during those hours, but I wouldn't be doing that anyway. And it might feel good to know that the Citroën is locked up overnight rather than sitting out on the street, where it's vulnerable to vandals and careless drivers.
By the way, the drive to Paris takes four hours if you avoid all toll roads. If you take the toll roads, the trip is three hours, but the toll is 20 euros. And either way, you'll burn between 20 and 30 euros' worth of diesel fuel (in my case) on the way. Gasoline (essence) would be considerably more expensive. It's enough to make you want to take the train. I guess that's the point.