Europe 1987

Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan 2018

Europe 1987

We slept through to about 8:00am this morning even though Phil had a touch of diarrohea and vomiting at 6:00am.  After breakfast from 8:30 to 9:00am, we returned to our room where the children played some games while Di looked after Tim and I went by Metro to the Citroën office to collect our car for the forthcoming Big Trip.

I had arranged the pickup before leaving Australia at the end of 1986 on a special leasing deal that was available only to residents outside the European Economic Community (EEC).  Although the drive back to the hotel from the Citroën office in Avenue Kléber, just south of the Arc de Triomphe, was only a few kilometres, I had to drive through the large roundabout at the Arc de Triomphe.  This was only the second time in my life that I had driven on the right-hand side of the road (the first occasion being at the start of the year on our way from Australia to the UK when we stopped over in Hawaii and rented a car for a day).

I collected the car, a white Citroën BX with comfortable blue upholstery, and drove to the Arc de Triomphe.  As my passage through the roundabout was a short anticlockwise circuit of about 120˚ to the right, I wasn’t expecting any problems.  However, I was quickly and rudely shaken out of any complacency as I drove through the roundabout and cars seemed to be shooting towards me from the side streets like a high-speed video game.  I couldn’t understand why the other drivers entering from the side streets were charging into the traffic flow ahead of me rather than giving way to me (as I was already on the roundabout).  Later, I learnt that the road rule applying in Paris is the opposite of the road rule in Australia – apparently at the Arc de Triomphe, it is the cars entering the roundabout that have right-of-way, not those which are already in the circle.

Somewhat shaken, I arrived at the hotel and parked the car.  Di had taken the children to a nearby park to play, but I didn’t need to wait long for her to return.  I unwound from my unexpectedly strenuous drive through the Arc de Triomphe over a lunch of baguettes, and we then all packed ourselves into the car for our first outing – to the Palace of Versailles.

Versailles was a magnificent complex of buildings of enormous scale; one of those places that has to be seen to be believed.  All the ceilings were decorated very ornately with oil paintings and chandeliers everywhere and incredibly manicured gardens.  It was built in 1661 for King Louis XIV, and it is said that all the other monarchs across Europe became jealous after it was completed and began competing with each other to out-do it – something like a nuclear arms race, but with palaces instead of missiles.  On that theme (well, sort of), I especially enjoyed my visit to the splendour of the Hall of Mirrors (Galerie des Glaces) where I knew the Treaty of Versailles had been signed in 1919 to conclude World War I (and I say it again, sort of…).

We decided to finish the day in a relaxed manner with a river cruise on the Seine.  I took a few wrong turns on our way through the confusing morass of Paris’ seemingly random street layout.  However, I managed to re-trace our route through Paris’ rush hour traffic (developing nerves of steel in the process), and we took a Bateau Mouche for a beautiful river cruise in the cool evening breeze, with a dinner of hot dogs on the boat followed by hot chocolate back at the hotel.

Overall, it was a great day even though Phil was not well, hardly eating or drinking all day – a sad reason for our not inconsiderable saving on food costs for the day.

Day 3


Wednesday 15 July 1987