Running a French Holiday Gite in Rural Brittany

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Flap, flap, we've got a flat; necessitating a French garage trip

Friday morning I got up and decided that I really needed to clear the big pile of rubbish from our second (renovation project) house. The heap of broken bits of plasterboard, broken kids toys, bits of swimming pool, etc was in the way and it was time to take it to the local waste recycling centre (déchetterie) so I loaded up the car and drove off.

Unfortunately I'd once again forgotten the opening times of the centre and when I got there I saw the sign that said they were open only on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings. So drove back home with all the rubbish in the back. Liz asked me where I'd been so I told here I'd "taken the rubbish out for a drive in the country!" She was not overly impressed especially as the car was now full of stuff.

Made the point of going and writing the opening times on a spare bit of plasterboard wall in the old house so that I didn't make the same mistake next time we visit.

Next morning (Saturday) I also got up first thing and this time I knew that I would be able to empty the car. Drove off out out of the Gite and down the lane leading to the Gite to be greeted by a flap flap noise coming from outside of the car.

Stopped and got out to look, and rats, the front passenger side tyre was completely flat.

Fortunately I knew that there was a garage in St Etienne which was not that far from our Gite, I'd never actually been to the garage and wasn't even sure if they were open on Saturdays and did tyre replacements, but it seemed the best option to carefully limp the car to the garage.

Brittany Garage, fortunately open on a Saturday morning
Along the way I tried to guess what the French words for 'I have a flat tyre', but couldn't remember the words for tyre or wheel so gave up and just went for a limp J'ai une problem avec ma voiture, and pointing to the offending part which did the trick and I was sent to wait in the office.

After a very brief wait a service technician arrived, whipped the wheel off the car, inflated it and found the nail-sized hole in the tread that was gushing air out.

Brittany Garage, changing the flat tyre on our car
I have to admit I was fearing that we could be in for a multi-day problem trying to find a replacement tyre in France that would fit our UK car, but no, he got what I can only describe as a large hooked needle, threaded through the eye of the needle something that looked like hemp covered in a pliable material, inserted it into the hole in the tyre, twisted to remove the needle, and then cut the excess hemp off.

Job done. He inflated the tyre and to my surprise started putting it back on the car. Over the years every time I have had a flat tyre it has resulted in having to buy a new tyre so I was quite impressed that he'd been able to repair it so quickly.

C'est bon pour l'autoroute? (it's OK to drive on the motorway?) I asked, Oui was the reply.

I then managed to miss-hear the price I was asked to pay, muddling up quarante (forty) with quatorze (fourteen) so they were very confused when I handed over way too much money, but we sorted that out and I was pleased to end up only paying €14 for the repair.

Car all fixed I drove off to the waste tip and emptied the car before I got into any more trouble for being late.

So thanks to the garage for a super job, the tyre's been fine ever since, and I've added the opening hours for the garage to our "Gite Guide" so the benefit of our guests.

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