I want to thank CHM for the lunch at the Relais d'Artémis that I've described over the last few days. We go there every time he comes to the Loire Valley, and the place seems to be especially on top of things right now. The menu I described, which includes an amuse-bouche (an hors-d'œuvre), a starter course, a main course, a cheese plate, a dessert, and what's called a mignardise (a second small dessert with coffee), is priced at 41 euros/person this summer. I think the meal for the three of us, with two bottles of wine, cost CHM about 200 euros.
And then the car let us down. We left the restaurant at about 4:00 p.m. The Citroën was parked out front, head-in, with the hood facing a brick wall that was blazing hot. The outside temperature was about 85ºF (29ºC) and the car's on-board thermometer read 41ºC — that's slightly more than 105ºF — when we got in.
Walt was at the wheel, but the car didn't want to start. The battery was fine; it's almost brand new. The engine turned over but wouldn't catch. Walt kept trying. We didn't know what we were going to do on a Sunday afternoon, stuck in Bracieux, 25 miles from home. I picked up the phone to call the insurance company emergency service, not knowing of course how long it might take for somebody to get there and help us. Walt said: don't call yet. Let's keep trying.
CHM suggested putting the car's hood up to let the engine cool off, the way English people seem to do in such situations. I did that. Then I asked Walt to let me get into the driver's seat and give it a try. I had no luck at first, but after two or three failed attempts at starting the motor, it suddenly caught. We decided to keep it running and head for home. If we broke down somewhere along the way, at least we would be closer to Saint-Aignan. I was especially worried about CHM, who is after all 91 years old. We had a cell phone with us.
I wonder if putting the hood up really helped get the car started. Maybe... and it certainly didn't hurt.
Well, we made it. We pulled into the driveway and breathed a sigh of relief. We turned the motor off. Had it all been a false alarm? We came into the house to cool down and relax for the evening. The next morning, I went out to check on the car, and I realized that I had blocked in the old Peugeot by parking the Citroën where I had. I could have pushed the Citroën out of the way, but then it would have been so far away from the front gate that it would be hard for a tow-truck driver to get it back out.
At the Relais d'Artémis, the mignardise of the day was a cream puff, served with a cup of espresso coffee.
I figured I might as well try to start the motor again. After a few attempts, I was successful. I backed the car out and parked it out behind the hedge, by the pond, in a place where visitors to the hamlet often park. I noticed at that point that a message was being displayed on the car's computer screen saying Défaillance Système Anti-Pollution — Emissions System Failure. I still thought the failure might be temperature-related. Or that maybe a filter of some kind was clogged. I hoped it wasn't worse than that.