As well as the bizarre sounds emanating from the Vinci parking garage, it has other eccentricities. The ticket machines at the entrance and exit are constantly breaking down, and we often have to call the management office to raise the gate and let us into or out of the garage. One night recently, the machine swallowed our ticket on the way into the garage. We called the management office and they lifted the barrier. The next morning I went to the office to get a replacement, since it was a one-month ticket. After I recounted my story, the woman at the desk held out a mangled piece of paper. "This must be your ticket," she said. "Did you break the gate?" Apparently somebody who entered the garage after us decided to just drive straight through. I can't say I blame them, but I assured the woman it wasn't me. Now we have a subscription, so we've got a plastic card instead of a paper ticket. I thought this would solve our problems with the ticket machine, but the malfunctions and late-night calls continue.
Given all the technical problems, and the complacency with which the management faces them, I was quite shocked on a recent visit to the palace of Versailles to discover that Vinci is remodelling the Hall of Mirrors (one of the most celebrated features of Versailles). I hope that the historical-restoration division of Vinci is more painstaking than the parking division. Otherwise, I wouldn't be surprised if the entire palace falls down one of these days, and the Vinci people just shrug and go home for coffee and croissants.