Dick awakes a little before 7AM, knowing that we need more of the wonderful bread and pastry found at the little patisserie in Varennes.
Of course, the pretty wife of the baker makes it easier to do business by sign language! Also, they open at 6AM and do big business as the only other patisserie in town is closed for the August holiday and does not reopen until September 2.
Pastries and bread in hand, Dick decides to drive to Cheppy and Very, two tiny villages north east of Varennes.
Carolyn is not long in joining the real world and we decide to do our long day’s run over to Strasbourg, a round-trip of some 450 km. We drop down to the toll road and head East. Now, before we forget, here is some information for the casual reader and for our future reference.
French Toll Roads:
Most of the French interstate quality roads are toll. Most are an "A" way as in A4. When you approach a toll both for the first time, look for a lane with a green arrow. When you pull in, there will be a yellow-green ATM like box on the left. Since it is your first time, it will either give you a ticket or flash a light asking for a credit card; VISA or MASTERCARD only! If it gives you a ticket, take it and the gate will open. If it does not give you a ticket, it wants your credit card. Trust it! It is from the French government and is here to help you! Slide you card in and it will spit it back almost instantly and the gate will open. And, you are off.
At the next toll both, if you got a ticket at the last one, look for a lane marked credit card in French (you will figure it out) on a bar sign low over the lane. It will want your credit card. See above. Have it ready as the guy behind you will blow his horn and shoot you the bird if you take more than 30 seconds. No new ticket, USUALLY. Stick in ticket, stick in card, retrieve card and you are off. This is basically how it works all the time. When you find the exception, and I am sure you will, you are on your own!
Today we paid €1.54 for a liter of diesel. This works out to $7.28 a gallon. Fortunately, our little Chevrolet Orlando with a 6-speed standard transmission seems to be getting great mileage. Oh, by the way, most gas stations not on the "A" ways are not attended and they will not accept US issued credit cards. They require some sort of pin that is not like the ATM pin you gave your card. It has to do with an imbedded chip in the card. So, don’t depend on getting gas just anywhere if you do not have a card like the European ones. I have contacted my credit card company by email and screamed at them. They are Chase and I do not really expect it to do any good but I feel better.
The road is excellent except for some road work but it does not delay us. We pull off into an "Aire Privat," a private gas station lay-by, and pay cash for fuel. We arrive at Petite France in Strasbourg at 1:15PM. The GPS is loaded with a parking area in Petite France, but it is at the opposite end from the Cathedral. So, we spend the next hour trying to find a parking place, one closer to where Carolyn wants to be. Finally, at 2:15PM we spot a slot near a university across from the Cathedral end of the Island and pay €1 for a three hour parking ticket. In Europe, be sure and look for the little kiosks in the middle of the block, if not closer, where you buy a time-stamped ticket to lay on your dash to show you have paid and when the time runs out. At the price, this was a steal.
We walk toward our goal, promptly get turned around, and retrace our steps. We finally arrive in the center of the Island, the heart of the old city, about 2:45PM to find the first several restaurants we see closed since 2PM. We settle for two sandwiches at a Subway for €14.20. The counter man voluntarily speaks English and is quite helpful and friendly.
Fortified, we head down to the main plaza in front of the cathedral to find all sorts of eating places open and crowded! We take photos and wander around.
We creep west for 45 minutes until we can finally get off the main track and head for our goal. This road is narrow, well maintained and empty. It is very crooked and we climb through heavily wooded land. Finally, we spot our goal, a church built on top of a flat topped mountain/hill above the village of Dabo.