Good question. I had to think long and hard about the answer, and here is the best answer I can come up with (which may be wrong). I think it has to do with what words are implied but omitted after EXCEPT. Examples: I rarely need to go into the city center except [when I need] to do some shopping. She had no choice except [she could choose] to wait for the next train. I drove all the way without stopping except [stopping] to buy petrol. There is nothing more the doctor can do except [she can] keep an eye on him. I have nothing to do except [I can] sit by the pool and relax.