"TT" red plate cruising in Europe - citroen Eurodrive experiences.
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  1. #1
    Thank God for my Hydroen harrisson_citroen's Avatar
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    Default "TT" red plate cruising in Europe - citroen Eurodrive experiences.

    Guys, I know a number of youse have used the above system in Europe.

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    Can I please call on to you for any suggestions as I have to make an impromptu visit to France in a few weeks and have booked a Eurodrive car to be picked-up atCDG. I would be very appreciative of any hints .
    Also, if you have anything to recommend like where to eat and where to stay anywhere in France, I would truely appreciate.

    But especially the no-no's.


    Thanks
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    Ahh, Phil, zo, yoo 'ave bin a loong time from ze 'ome country eh? 'appy 'olidays eh.

    Hope you have a great time mate, one day I'd love to travel there and meet with Yves Frelon, creator of NuancierDS. He's in Paris.

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    Thank God for my Hydroen harrisson_citroen's Avatar
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    Yes indeed, Richo, it has been many years since I have been home. When I left Citroens were citroens. No computers, not even mobile phones, would you believe. And you still had to carry travellers cheques then.

    That's why I wanted to get some input from people who had been there recently and see what they have to say and hopefully give me some tips.

    A holiday for sure, but what prompted it was that I had promised my Mum to bring back her ashes to France to lay near my Dad. So it is an important part of this journey. And it is what prompted me to make the move.

    Cheers
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    Well you've done the right thing to start with - contacted Michelle at Eurodrive!

    Having TT'd three times now I could go on for ages about our experiences - but they have all been good.

    Picking up the car at CDG is easy. Call them and wait near the exit door they tell you about. Make sure you have collected all your bags and you have been to the loo first. Sometimes the wait can be 20 minutes. Ensure all your party is ready to go at the same time. Once you call do not leave the pick up area. Finding a public phone to make the call can be a little challenging.

    Usually they pick you up in a Renault van - I think last time it was a green one. Doesn't matter.

    When you collect the car it will only have a few litres of fuel in it - the nearest servo is a TOTAL just a few km down the road and they will give you a map.

    Download and read the user manual for the car you have leased before you get there. For most reading the French user guide is a challenge - however not one you should face.

    If you have a car with GPS included make sure you take a Michelin guide for the inevitable checking of the GPS selected locations. As you woudl know there are many towns and villages in France with very similar names. Can make the difference between 50km to the right town vs 700km to the wrong one! (not spoken from distance based experience - thank goodness). The built in GPSs have a dial for zoom that allows you to zoom out to check the approximation of your journey. Very useful.

    The attendant will give you some pointers as to the operation of the vehicle features and can answer most questions.

    Avoid fuelling on the autoroutes as the servos on the autoroutes are exxy. A short journey to a nearby town can make 10 eurocents/litre difference for diesel.

    Do not leave anything visible in the car when you lock it up. Too tempting.

    Make sure the other driver has the spare key always.

    Try to always avoid the periphreak of Paris and don't trust your GPS to avoid it for you. Bureau de Bastarde had a good day when they got their hands on the GPS software.

    Do not try to return the car between 12 and 2. Sacre bleu - we must have our lunch! eg the info we were provided for Porte de Orlean agency did not specify lunch shutdown...

    Anyway. Treat the car like your own and enjoy.
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    VIP Sponsor richo's Avatar
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    A safe and happy journey, bon voyage, is this the term?
    A good son always complies with the request of ones Mum. I did a similar thing some years ago.

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    I still have my father's ashes in the lounge room, while the interminable negotiations with the Cemetary Trust continue. Sometimes I place the urn on his favourite armchair. For Christmas Dinner I placed thm on one of the dining chairs.

    Roger

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    As Craig says, head into town for fuel, the supermarket fuel stations are traditionally cheapest. Where to stay and eat will depend upon your budget. France has a number of cheap chain motels, but they are bland, sometimes noisy and anonymous. Their development has, however, meant that there are now few small hotels offering accommodation in towns / villages compared to decades past. Cities still offer independent / boutique hotels in reasonable numbers. Some of the chains offer rewards schemes - if you're staying long enough they could pay off. The cheap chain hotels are also often quite easy to find / well signposted, but often stuck on the edge of an industrial area on the outskirts of town, with only a chain food supplier and / or supermarket nearby. Cafeterias in hypermarkets / supermarkets can however offer some surprisingly good fare at reasonable prices, as always the number of locals going there is usually a good indicator of quality. Cafeterias also sometimes keep what might seem weird hours.
    I've never had a theft problem (5 trips in TT), but like Craig I'd also say keep things out of sight when parked. The TT plates make it obvious you're a tourist and hence a target for some.
    Give yourself adequate time for the vehicle drop-off if you're doing so at the airport - the process is usually quite fast but on one occasion I got queued behind a couple who were trying to argue about an item on a service charge and that took some time to sort.
    I've always found TT a great way to travel. Bon voyage.



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    Actually the drop off in September to the Citroen agent was far more detailed than the previous ones. Mrs UFO dropped off the car in 2008 and more or less gave them the keys and was told "that's OK". In 2010 in Frankfurt I had to sign a form at the drop off hotel. The last time there was a form, a walk around check of the car, then when he was filling out the form he couldn't work out our home address so I corrected it. Hmmmm, good way to upset a very important Parisian after his lunch.
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    Thank God for my Hydroen harrisson_citroen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by UFO View Post
    . Call them and wait near the exit door they tell you about. Make sure you have collected all your bags and you have been to the loo first. Sometimes the wait can be 20 minutes. Ensure all your party is ready to go at the same time. Once you call do not leave the pick up area. Finding a public phone to make the call can be a little challenging.

    Usually they pick you up in a Renault van - I think last time it was a green one. Doesn't matter.

    When you collect the car it will only have a few litres of fuel in it - the nearest servo is a TOTAL just a few km down the road and they will give you a map.

    .

    Okay, so you give them a call when you're ready. I had a fancy idea that you went to their office at the airport or something.

    So like you say better have breakfast first (arrive at 6.40am) and a wee before picking the car up and facing the Paris traffic!

    Thanks for that.
    DS Un jour, DS toujours !

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    Quote Originally Posted by harrisson_citroen View Post
    Okay, so you give them a call when you're ready. I had a fancy idea that you went to their office at the airport or something.

    So like you say better have breakfast first (arrive at 6.40am) and a wee before picking the car up and facing the Paris traffic!

    Thanks for that.
    Oui! So to speak.

    They do not have an office at CDG (or as XM Driver calls it George de Gruel - a far more appropriate description of that airport). The car collection location is a few km away from the airport which is why they come and collect you for free. Return to the airport from the drop off location is also available.

    The route from the airport consists of about 97 roundabouts, lane merges, quiet curses of other drivers etc. Well at least that's the way it seems when you're jet lagged.

    Also, remember to go to the loo before you get to passport control as the usual French efficiency is applied to the long queues. Although if you're travelling on an EU passport then you may get served earlier from the other queue.

    Be wary of queue sneaks who try to meander past you.

    The usual form in the morning is that about 6 747s or A380s arrive at the break of curfew and there might be two or three customs officers there to give you the look and stamp your passport.

    Deb and I collect bags like this.

    She finds a safe standing or sitting spot 10 to 15 metres away from the baggage carousel and stays there firmly holding our carry on bags.

    I stand and look over the heads of the expectant entire travel groups (yes the WHOLE family must wait for the bags hard up against the carousel!) and when I see one bag coming I prime myself for an "excuse e moi!" and push through as the bag approaches - hoping like hell the other one is not right next to it. I grab the bag and swing it off the conveyor - regardless of who is stupid enough to be standing in the way, then put it on its wheels and zip it over to Deb. Then straight back to wait for the next one.

    Then it is out past the security guards and into the public area of the airport.

    By the way it helps that I am 191cm tall and have a projecting voice from years in theatre!

    Also helpful is that we have red shell bags and before the last trip I stuck Cit In Tassie stickers on the bags. I would KNOW they were ours. Prior to sticking things on shell cases wipe the area over with metho or isopropyl alcohol and smooth the stickers on really well. Do not buy the Samsonite dimply shell cases. Ours lasted two O/S trips each. They crack and are irreparable. When replacing them we lashed out and got the really good Samsonite almost indestructible ones. They are a flexible woven plastic fibre and the medium size cases weigh just over 2kg each empty. Two of these cases also fit side by side in the boot of a new C4 perfectly.
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    Thank God for my Hydroen harrisson_citroen's Avatar
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    A mine of information. If ever you are in Brisbane in the next 3 weeks, pleeeeeease let's do lunch.!
    DS Un jour, DS toujours !

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    I keep meaning to amalgamate a whole heap of info garnered from our various trips into a single document. Perhaps I should just copy and edit all my previous posts.

    Chances of me being in Brisbane in the next three weeks are zero, but thanks for the offer.
    Craig K
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    Thank God for my Hydroen harrisson_citroen's Avatar
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    You can amalgamate the garnered anytime you like as far as I'm concerned.
    DS Un jour, DS toujours !

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    1000+ Posts gerry freed's Avatar
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    Paris is in a desparate frenzy of transport infrastructure developments to discourage private cars. Unless you are familiar with the current lane restrictions and one way streets, I suggest that if central Paris is on the agenda, leave the car at CDG and take the Metro/RER/trams and buses around the town.
    GPS is a must but has its limitations. In the options choose the fastest route using autoroutes. If not you could end up on goat tracks as it happily uses the shortest distance.
    The legislation now allows, indeed encourages unmarked radar, fixed and mobile. Understand the speed limits as they are not always marked and you are supposed to recognise them by the class of road and the weather. The important thing is that towns and villages have an automatic limit beyond their name sign with a red surround, which is 50kmh. If it is different they will also have a speed limit sign but the default is 50 and often controlled by a hidden radar.
    Priority to the right is still the default and even if the road is marked or there are signs to the contrary, it is still applied by anyone over the age of 60.
    see my PM.

    Accor hotels are in the process of refrurbishing and repositioning their various chains. Their new Ibis versions are reliable and bland. The great advantage is that you know what you are getting and you can easily book ahead from the car.
    http://www.accorhotels.com/fr/france/index.shtml
    or if you want to stay somewhere more interesting use chambres d'hŰtes. These can also be booked ahead on the "gites de France" site.
    To do this you need internet access from a smart phone. I understand that Australian phone biills are outrageous if you use your own SIMM card.
    Best to buy a SIMM card at a supermarket and swap it, if the phone is unlocked. otherwise buy a cheap phone package from a supermarket like Leclerc.

    If you haven't been here for a while, you may have difficulties with the language. It is still called French but is now a sort of English with some nasal nuances. You need to brush up on words like scotchť, cool and dingue and if you ask the way of anyone under 20, le verlan.
    There are regional variants especially in HLM suburbs where it is a sort of Arabic with nasal overtones.
    Unemployment is now over 11% and around 20 for the young, so the street crime scene including pilfering from cars and pickpocketing has noticably increased according to the police statistics. In particular the Roumanian gangs of children in the Metro, Louvre, the main stations and other crowded tourist spots have got so bad that the staff in the Lovre went on strike over security last week.
    My advice is enjoy the beautiful countryside and avoid the main cities, especially their outer high rise suburbs.

    Warning! Don't mention politics unless you have several hours to spare.
    Last edited by gerry freed; 14th April 2013 at 08:06 PM.
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    Thank God for my Hydroen harrisson_citroen's Avatar
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    The most driving I will do in Paris is CDG to Asnieres, and the next day Asnieres to Rue de Tocqueville in the17eme Arr. Is that still do-able?
    After that I hope to escape down to strictly Nationales down to Bordeaux and Royan then onto Provence.
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    Quote Originally Posted by harrisson_citroen View Post
    The most driving I will do in Paris is CDG to Asnieres, and the next day Asnieres to Rue de Tocqueville in the17eme Arr. Is that still do-able?
    After that I hope to escape down to strictly Nationales down to Bordeaux and Royan then onto Provence.
    Wow! That's all of 32 km if we are talking about the same Asnieres (sur-Seine). I reckon if you can get a park at Asnieres, leave the car there, metro into Rue de Tocqueville and back.

    The drive to Bordeaux, Royan and Provence would be much more interesting with things to see and do along the way.

    There are some useful links on Rod and Michelle's Eurodrive site now.

    http://eurogroup.com.au/eurodrive/useful-links.html

    A good one is Via Michelin as it will show you general views of autoroute signs, costs of tolls (€€€€!!!) and travel times. You can even estimate fuel costs

    http://www.viamichelin.com/
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    Have a look at this - but don't drink while you add up the toll costs! Best to avoid the autorout€ from time to time.

    http://www.viamichelin.com/web/Route...routeConso=5.6
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    1000+ Posts gerry freed's Avatar
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    Tha main route to Bordeaux from the Ile de France is the N10, if you want to avoid the A10. The problem is that half the truckies from Spain and Portugal have the same view and it is actually more dangerous and demanding than the autoroute.
    I would suggest that you go to Le Mans and have a look at the motor museum at the race course, then take the road South to AngoulÍme. Take the N10 south but turn off left at D674 and enjoy Charente on this route via Chalais and la Roche Chalais. At Chalais, if you turn right in the roundabout leave in the town D731 or the D89 before you enter the very pretty town, head for the village of Bardenac. Just past the church there is a restaurant where you can get a four course locally sourced meal for 14 euros. No menu, just les Plats du Jour. At Roche Chalais there are several quiet roads via Coutras to the Bordeaux Pont Aquitaine or there is the A89 autoroute.
    Note that the speed limits on unmarked country roads are 90 or 80 in bad weather, passing through hameaux usually 70 and villages with name signs 50.
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    Thank God for my Hydroen harrisson_citroen's Avatar
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    Le mans, Angouleme, this is the route we used to take to go to Bordeaux in those days. Definitely will be the way to go. Am not sure about the Departementales though,in those days they were rather on the rough side although very interesting driving into the "deep France".

    Can't wait.
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    1000+ Posts gerry freed's Avatar
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    The reason why the hydropneumatic suspension is no big deal now is that the roads are so improved. Those roads I suggested I drive in my Honda which is essentially a town car nd really enjoy in my H van.

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    Couple of added points:

    Esso have unmanned servos marked as "Esso Express". They run off a credit card, and it's worth experimenting early on to see if the machines will take your card (do it with 1/2 a tank of fuel, just in case). The Esso Express nearest us is actually cheaper than the supermarkets, and I seem to use 10% less fuel when I have that in the tank of my diesel. Total have taken over most of the Elf servos in this area and put in a similar scheme, but they are no cheaper (and the fuel no better).

    Supermarkets usually have 2 sets of pumps - the manned ones and the unmanned ones. The manned ones you fill up and then drive through the caisse, only occupied during trading hours. If your credit card doesn't work in the 24h machines it means you will have to make sure you don't run low on fuel on a Sunday.

    The N routes take twice as long to travel as the A routes but are more interesting - especially the N10. Be careful on the N10 though - around Tours it's been renumbered as the D910, and the N10 numbering is used for feeder roads to the Autoroute. I prefer the N10 if I am motoring as opposed to just travelling from one place to another.

    Speed limits: don't let BMW and big pug drivers push you, especially in the rain. They will tailgate you, pass on a blind corner uphill (without their headlights on) and then slow down to the speed limit. Just do the speed you're comfortable (physically and morally) and let the b@stards stew. Porsche drivers here are the same as porsche drivers anywhere else in the world too (there must be an injection they get with the keys). They will overtake you 4 or 5 times in an afternoon because they are physically incapable of looking ahead to get into the correct lane at traffic lights.

    And finally (maybe) the one that people always forget to tell you: On the Periferique around Paris, it's traffic entering that has right of way. Which is why people tend to drive in the inner lanes.

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    Thank God for my Hydroen harrisson_citroen's Avatar
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    Priceless advice there Guys, Thank you . And please keep it coming. Geez things seem to have change quite a bit over there!
    DS Un jour, DS toujours !

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    I like using the stations where fill up and move forward to pay - a system that many Aussie servos should put in. However we have found that Aussie credit or debit cards are not always easily dealt with and sometimes not accepted.

    European bank systems now rely solely on chipped cards and presenting a magnetic stripe only card can inflict apoplexy - especially if it is a young staff member who knows nought about swiping the card not sticking it in the bottom of the EFTPOS unit. We tried at least four different cards at an unattended station in Holland with no luck and with the 80km warning on the speedo we drove further down the road with eyes wide open looking for the next location - only about 15km away thank goodness.

    We use the ANZ Travelcards quite successfully though. All banks seem to offer this service these days. Look into it as it is a good way to keep your holiday funds separate from your real funds back home. You can top them up via a BPAY transaction online out of your own bank account. I could go on, but...

    Of course ensure you have some euros prior to departure as inevitably the DAB (ATMs) at CDG are empty by about 30 minutes after the first planes land each morning - if they were filled overnight! Also, quite intelligently, the METRO/RER vending machines at CDG do not take non European credit cards. So if you arrive and need a train ticket to somewhere (not relevant to Harrison for this trip) you have to have cash. Did Citroen's Bureau de Bastarde outsource their decision making team for that one? (If you didn't pick it up, an ATM in France is a DAB)

    Yes the drivers of various types of cars are the same the whole world over. Don't let them bully you.

    On the autoroutes it may be tempting to zip along at 140 or so, as you used to be able to years ago, but a speedo indicated 132 km/h seems to be everyone's favoured setting. Friends have their C3's speed limiter permanently set to 132 for their daily 120 km commute to Paris. Get on the autoroute, put the foot down to a comfy position and hold. Being diesel it pulls uphill fine and yet will not roll away to a higher speed on the downhill like CC can sometimes do.

    I'd forgotten about entry priority on the Terrorfreak. Thanks for the reminder.
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    I endorse most of the above except I never had any trouble with the gps.
    You didn't mention your drop-off point but last time I did it in Barcelona and it was no trouble at all.
    I think there would be few tourist experiences as universally positive as this one.

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    1000+ Posts gerry freed's Avatar
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    Have a look at the thread about driving on the left or right in respect of the priority to the right rule. Since you were last here roundabouts have mushroomed. They only work if there is priority to those already on the roundabout, so they have priority to the left.
    Should you get caught up with the peripherique or the voies rapides around Paris (that's another joke) remember that there is another informal but real and unmarked lane. This runs down between the two lanes and is used by two wheeled traffic when those on four wheels are stopped or crawling. So keep to the left or right as appropriate in traffic jams to leave a lane in the centre wide enough for handlebars.
    In Paris cyclists can turn at red lights. Another huge development over the last two years has been the establishment of rights of pedestrians. Previously they were expected to jump for cover and the motorist owned the road. Now, pedestrians have right of way on zebra crossings, one foot on and you are obliged to stop. As a pedestrian you are in the wrong when crossing the road anywhere if there is a marked crossing within 50 metres. Using the phone while driving is illegal and an easy source of revenue for the fisc. So the police spend an inordinate amount of time looking for phones in use. Systems for measuring average speed between toll gates on the autoroutes are in place and so be ready for the police waiting for you as you pay.

    I live here and I have trouble every trip on average with the GPS. Unless you have an exotic system that updates in real time based on traffic conditions you can hit major delays through road works. For example the main bridge, le Pont Aquitaine, over the Garonne on the road from Paris to Bordeaux is often closed during the weekends or at night for maintenance. If you arrive when it is closed you have to circumnavigate the Rocade or peripherique in the reverse direction, which baffles the GPS that tells you to do a demi-tour at each exit. The work on the new Paris-Spain fast TGV runs in parallel to the autoroutes and is creating lots of diversions at the exits and entrances and will continue, such is the scale of the work, for at least a year. This also affects the train services, many of which are replaced by buses for part of the day while the line is reworked. Our TGV from Paris takes three hours to do 630 kms. It was constructed by upgrading the existing line, replacing the track with long rails, minimising the level crossings and smoothing the curves. The new one is being constructed from scratch but uses some stretches of the old right of way near the stations. It has no level crossings and will offer speeds that cut the time to just over two hours and get the parisians to the Spanish border in less than three. This means that nearly every road that crosses the railway now has to have a new bridge or tunnel across the new parallel tracks. Diversion signs are hardly surprising. If you do not have real time updating use the autoroute advisory radio channels. In the southern autoroute complex this is on 107.7 MHz
    The French invented the Smart card and were the first to move over to them for credit cards. Later the Europeans pushed an international standard now adopted, which was an advance on the French prototype. So France has been involved in an expensive upgrade. There are security issues with mag striped cards and so many unattended systems refuse them, notably tolls and filling stations. Most of our Australian visitors get caught out this way. Amex and Diners, once dominant, are often rejected even in restaurants. Be prepared to help a shop assistant or waiter with any card that does not have a chip and a pin code. They are not now a part of French life. It doesn't help to get angry with the situation, it is Australia that is out of step and behind the times.
    On another issue, don't assume restaurants offer you food cooked on the premises by a chef. The scene has become industrialised and the overwhelming majority of cooked food is a reheat of factory produced plats cuisinťs. There is a move by restauranteurs to market on the basis of food selected and cooked sur place but expect to pay much more.
    Last edited by gerry freed; 16th April 2013 at 12:27 AM.
    Think Global - Ride on Spheres

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