I roll off the overnight ferry to a moody morning in Le Havre. The sky is as many shades of grey as the Dior boutique in Paris but a pale, buttermilk sun is slowly floating up the horizon.
This weekend, I was invited, avec copain, on a press trip to the Cote d'Azur to drive a Maybach Zeppelin (I've no idea what this is but it sounds impressive) and could be motoring along under a pool blue sky right now. Unfortunately I had to decline in favour of driving an ancient - perhaps I should say 'vintage'? - Golf back to the UK for an MOT and tax disc. (I know, I know I should get round to registering it in France but it requires a new set of headlights and seven different documents, only two of which I have.)
As I fly south along the grey autoroute, the sun bleaches out the surrounding countryside, making it look like an overexposed photograph and I am at times momentarily blinded as a mass of diffused lemon light fills the windscreen. But I've come to the conclusion that I'm happiest in transit, travelling to or from somewhere.
In a new book, 'Sum: Forty Tales From The Afterlives' the author David Eagleman imagines that in the afterlife, you relive all your experiences but with all the events shuffled into a new order, so that similar moments are grouped together. This means that 'you sleep for thirty years without opening your eyes... spend eighteen months waiting in line.... fifteen months looking for lost items' and 'you take all your pain at once, all twenty-seven intense hours of it.'
If so, I'm destined to spend several years sailing up and down the A13 and A28 between Poitiers and the ferry port in Le Havre. This doesn't bother me. I love doing this journey. For large stetches north of Tours, you have the motorway entirely to yourself. No suicidal drivers appearing out of nowhere in your rear windscreen with a hand-held mobile clamped to their ear, tailgating you at 120 km/per hour. It's (almost) worth the €80 in tolls that it costs round trip just for that.
Only one thing could improve the experience. If Cofiroute, which runs the autoroutes, would plant a few trees in its aires de repos or rest areas, so that you can stop to sleep for half an hour without being fried alive by that powerful sun - there is rarely any shade in the service areas - then I'd feel I was really getting value for money.