Wednesday, January 15, 2014

(5/)6 Micro-nations V: Strasbourg - Trier - Luxembourg - Paris

12/6 - Strasbourg to Trier to Luxembourg to Paris (well, Roissy-en-France)

The main intent with this was to see Trier, since it was close and old, and it turned out to be a lot better than Luxembourg, which came off as a theme-park Rhineland full of English-speaking d-bag i-bankers.  At least there were new beers there.

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464. Tailback sign in Saarbruecken.  The Italian ones are better, but fortunately I wasn't involved in any tailbacks in Italy, and had to go by them at speed.

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465. Traffic and original Autobahn bridge in Saarbruecken.

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466. Fields on the hills above Trier.

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467. Trees and clouds over a ridgeline.

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468. Street view, Trier.

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469. Into the amphitheater.

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470. Vineyards above, probably also here since Roman times.

Trier was settled sometime between 30 BC and 17 AD.  It remained a Roman city for the next four hundred years or so, and was actually the de facto capital of the Roman Empire for most of the fourth century.  To miss this stuff on a tour that has been littered with stuff from the still-echoing collapse of Rome would have been a real loss.

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471. Around the east curve.

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472. The west curve.

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473. Tunnel room by the entrance.

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474. Down to the underground part.

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475. Underneath the arena.

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476. Remnants of an original column.

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477. Stonework in what's now an underground pond.

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478. Roman-carved well.

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479. Into a barred passage.

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480. Original masonry below.

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481. Coming up, back towards the present entrance.

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482. The renovation shows how deep the original stonework goes into the hill.

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483. From the top, east side.

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484. Across to the more developed "home stand".

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485. Southeast corner.

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486. Stepped masonry on the entrance.

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487. Around the lower edge of the home side.

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488. This tunnel up's closed.

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489. Entrance to the open tunnel.

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490. Passage into the arena below.

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491. Inner passage facing the arena.

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492. The deepest cell.

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493. Stonework in the tunnel out.

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494. One side of the gate.
495. The other, a little better preserved.  It wasn't until I was collating this stuff for this posting that I realized I'd actually gotten the two views to line up exactly.  Good job, accidental camera placement.

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496. West gate, full view.

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497. Down from the top of the "main stand".

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498. Remnants of a shattered column.

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499. From the southwest corner; probably the best view.

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500. Trier as it was when this place was new.

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501. Rounded wall on the way out.

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502. Storm past; clouds over the modern entrance house.  This was the leftovers of that North Sea depression that flooded all of the English east coast, which I 95% missed.  I caught some icefall going over the mountains in the Westerwald, but otherwise my superhuman weather luck, on display throughout this trip, held firm.

I left the amphitheater and parked closer in to the town center.  Of course, the parking lot was super expensive and I could only pay for two hours in coins.  Can you see all of Trier in 2 hours?  Why yes, if you do so before the museums are open, have a long stride, and frequently confuse tourism with rally driving.

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503. Long view past the Kaiserthermen.  I parked in the museum lot, then headed away clockwise from north.

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504. The synagogue, obviously restored.

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505. Tower behind a classical house.

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506. Imperial column at the foot of the Roemerbruecke.

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507. The bridge itself.

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508. Tower atop the west bank.

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509. Strip clubs and the Cave Men clubhouse; what passes for a red-light district.

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510. Old-style houses further up.

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511. The Karl-Marx-Haus, since I wasn't going to stick around here till 11 for the museum to open.

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512. Festive signs over the Fleischstrasse.

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513. Baroque column in the Viehmarkt.

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514. Straight up, while waiting for the ATM.

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515. More old buildings.

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516. Weihnachtsmarkt in the square.

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517. Half-timbered facade.

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518. The Porta Nigra.

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519. Black Gate form the side.

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520. A whole row of pre-20th-century houses.

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521. Side of Sancta Maria.

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522. Most of the front of the church.

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523. Baroque-styled carvings.

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524. Back of the cathedral.

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525. Better view along the side.

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526. Decorations on diocesean property.

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527. Old buildings and an appropriate street name.  The elector for this part of the Holy Roman Empire was the archbishop, and as mentioned, the capital moved here right after the Romans officially Christianized.  The Catholic Church has been a very big wheel in Trier for a very, very, long time.

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528. Tourists on a narrow back street.

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529. Pillar by the back of the basilica.

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530. Basilica rotunda.

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531. Across the road; not all of the family went in for the abolition of private property.

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532. A chunk of the basilica.

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533. I moved for a better shot, and it is still too big to fit in the frame.

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534. Side view of the imperial palace.  This is directly connected to the basilica, because buildings stuck to each other -- the Liebfraukirche being directly connected to the cathedral, for instance, and also see Luxembourg later -- is apparently kind of a thing in the Mosel valley.

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535. Palace gardens.

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536. Palace and lawn.

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537. More statues around a reflecting pool.

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538. Old city walls by the Rhenish history museum.

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539. Somebody's a Terry Gilliam fan.

The museum didn't appear to be open, so I got over it and went on to the Kaiserthermen.

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540. Trees and city wall.

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541. Arches of the Kaiserthermen.

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542. Complex from the outside.

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543. Along the museum wall.

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544. View of the far wall over the fence.

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545. Sky over the arches.

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546. Another foot by the museum entrance.

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547. Inside the baths complex.

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548. Sun and excavations.

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549. More of the surface part.

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550. Stairs down; this is explored later.

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551. Passages underground.

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552. More of the underground system.

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553. Ruins and regrowth.

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554. The open-air frigidarium.

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555. Arches and scaffolding.

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556. Roman brick with a minimum of German steel.

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557. Catching the sky.

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558. The medieval wall almost meets the Roman part.

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559. Almost, now, at least; it's pretty obvious that it used to before someone cut a vehicle access road through it.

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560. Arches at this gate.

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561. Ruins above.

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562. Roots driven deep.

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563. Into the passages down.

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564. Narrow corridors in stone.

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565. A long part open above.

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566. Supports keep the wall in place.

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567. Another open passage.

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568. A fork in darkness.

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569. This end's closed off...

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570. ...but this one's free and lit.

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571. Staggered arches to the light.

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572. Original and renovated stonework.

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573. A bend in the tunnel.

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574. A restored chamber below.

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575. A reinforced passage.

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576. "...a maze of twisty passages, all alike..."

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577. Moss grows down from open skylights.  This must have been a bitch to maintain in Roman times -- Italy, where these came from, is not nearly as damp as northeast Europe, so there were probably a bunch of mostly-enslaved Belgae at this, constantly, every day, with sponges and putty knives, trying vainly to keep the earth from reabsorbing this place.

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578. Steps to the light.

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579. A chunk of the original roof.

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580. Fused rubble in the corridor.

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581. Light above, flume below.

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582. Like on the Great Wall, the mortar's stood centuries of feet better than the stone.

I still had some time after doing all the cultural activities, so I went to get provisions before the parking meter ran out.

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583. TUFA-topia, a weird artist/anarchist collective with an ice cream shop.  Not open yet.

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584. Another church below the Viehmarkt.

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585. Sculpture in the square.

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586. Headed out; the simple matter-of-factness sells it.  It's Germany, absolutely nothing out of the ordinary with an Iron Maiden sticker on a minvan.

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587. Heights of the west bank.

588. Skies over the land.  (DNCO)

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589. View down into Luxembourg.  This is by far the largest of the micro-nations encountered on this tour, big enough to have nontrivial agriculture as well as banking and manufacturing sectors -- nearly as large as the state of Rhode Island, which is pretty goddamned big in comparison to the four previous and one missed so far.

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590. Commercial bank blocks, headed into town.  Andorra, Monaco, and Liechtenstein are also private-banking powerhouses, but they do a better job of hiding it.

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591. Old station building.

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592. More modern street above.

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593. Murderers' row.

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594. Across to the center.  The parking centers in town were hopelessly full, so I had to cross to the Gare side and go up seven floors to find a place to stow the car.  Come here by train, there's actually rail access unlike the other nations visited.

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595. Narrow house on the river slope.

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596. Along the now-dry gorge.  This used to be a prominent part of Luxembourg's defenses, before modern artillery and the advent of the forward spotter made them kind of pointless.

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597. High tower on the Gare side.

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598. Church cut into the hill.

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599. Memorial stone for the ducal guard.

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600. WWII memorial.

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601. Monument specifically for the armed forces.  The language is interesting and really shows the scars of war -- after the conflict, this is all in French, but today, the only new tokens of this country are its Euros, with the legends all struck in Lettebuergish....which is nice and independent, in a shrinking continent dominated by its big close neighbors, but at the time obviously sounded far too close to German to put on anything to do with the war.

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602. Neumuenster Abbey.

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603. Another abbey view, with part of the national library.  Again, this part of the world, buildings are stuck onto each other.

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604. Weihnachtsmarkt by the casemates.

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605. Monument to foreign volunteers.

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606. Down to the lower village.

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607. Fortress wall and far tower.

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608. Green corner.

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609. Natural rock and fortress wall.

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610. Corner of the fort.

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611. Below the bridge to the Gare Quartier.

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612. Ministry of Justice above.

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613. Old and new town on the bank.

This was Luxembourg finished, after looting the nearby market for nearly all its beers and a pandoro to go with them.  I didn't get a Batten because they were only coming in six-packs, and I couldn't justify that expense/alcohol load (or, actually, carry it with the other stuff) with nine other beers to put down in two days.

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614. Church heading through Trocheville.

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615. The world's best place names are in Alsace and Lorraine.  Seen earlier but not pictured: Bitche, Yutz, and Wacken.

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616. Lorraine and beetling clouds.

v15. Through Lorraine towards Champagne.

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617. Trees and dying sun.

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618. Spotlights from heaven.  These things are hard to photograph (well, with a point-and-shoot from a moving car while steering at highway speed), but literally everywhere.

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619. Endless fields, roiling sky.

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620. The burning sun sinks to the southwest.

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621. Plus-derniere peage.  These things are the bane of travelers by road in France; this one took me for 22,40e.  Mostly expensive and frequently inconvenient, they mess up the French highway system, which remains in worse repair than the no-toll, no-speed-limit Autobahnen across the border.  Another miracle of privatization, which, to date, has not resulted in notably lower taxes in France than in Germany.  (French autoroutes are for the most part operated and maintained by one of several private corporations as toll roads.)

The passage in to Paris from here was kind of rough, partly due to heavy traffic, and partly due to the engine having a coughing fit.  This was probably due to a combination of stop-and-go traffic, overdue maintenance, and a bad fuel mix that wasn't particularly settled.  I remain suspicious of the idea that "gazole" (under French formulation) is exactly the same as "diesel" (under Swiss formulation); they're no doubt functionally equivalent, but they were not mixing cleanly here.

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622. Line-up in Roissy.  It's a good thing I don't have a long drive tomorrow...

I've got Paris mostly planned, and if there's not a lot on the menu, there's not a lot of light these days.  Like Berlin, I'm not going to get everything on the first pass -- and like Berlin, I'm planning on coming back sometime.

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