After a full day, we had been driving for 7 hour straight to get as close to Paris as we could for the end of the trip. At 11:00 pm, we finally pulled over at a highway hotel. They were full up, and pointed us across the way. We shambled over to the front door and went in. Or at least we tried to. The door was locked. There was no apparent way to open it. (We took this picture the next day, imagine it in the dark with heavy mental fatigue.)
We could not figure out what to do. We pressed every button and nothing worked. What kind of crazy hotel has no one on duty and no way to contact anyone? These crazy French people!? We gave up. Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted the ATM… and gradually realized what it was.
The hotel was automated at night. You paid with a credit card at the “ATM”. It gave you a code number that was good for 24 hours. You could use the code number to open the door and get to your room. As you might imagine, a hotel that thinks having a single employee at night is too much is rather spartan. Our room:
There were no pictures on the wall, nothing that could be stolen. It was basically a stripped down, bare bones dorm room. The next morning we got up and went on our way.