You need to understand that we hadn’t slept since Thursday night. We boarded the Icelandair flight at 2:30PM EDT Friday June 1 at JFK Airport in New York City. Jamaica NY to be precise. We landed in Iceland for a plane change. It was almost midnight local time Saturday. The sun was still up. We boarded the next plane and headed southeast towards Paris. The sun just sort of rotated in the sky, from the west to the east, without ever “setting.” A whole night with no darkness; a little disorienting, ya think????
So at 6:30AM Paris time Saturday June 2, the intrepid travelers arrive at Charles DeGaulle Airport just outside Paris, France. After what seemed like many kilometers of stairs and moving walkways, we collected our baggage and stood in the parking garage in front of the Peugeot 5008 SW assigned to us by the rental car company. The gearshift had markings “R, A, M.” There was a starter button. On the dash was a lever with a “P.” There were buttons and levers all over, most unmarked. An examination of the glove box and various other nooks and crannies in the interior provided no assistance in the form of a manual or quick-start card.
After about 45 minutes playing with various buttons and levers, Google Maps printout in hand and hoping the address of our farmhouse destination in the Loire Valley was actually entered into the navigation package, we set out from the garage. Almost immediately a major flaw in our preparations revealed itself. Months had been spent perusing websites about the area, rules and regs from the US State Department and Icelandair to make certain we complied with the current paranoia that is air travel and did not act like the ugly American tourists of cinema and literature, but we had not acquainted ourselves with French TRAFFIC SIGNS!!!!! We knew “a droit” is “right” and “a gauche” is “left” but speed limits?? route signs?? traffic control warnings?? NO CLUE. So sleep deprived, unprepared, ignorant of the signage, we set off for the 300-plus kilometer drive southwest to Monts-sur Guesnes and the farmhouse we had rented for the week……….
We knew we needed to access a road called