6th December 2010 La Suze-sur-Sarthe to Niort

6 12 2010

It started raining early morning and didn’t really stop all day, it was murky as we set off from La Suze-sur-Sarthe heading, well, South. We ignored the sat-navs attempt to take us it’s decided route to Mimizan Plage and headed our own way toward Saumur and then Niort where we were planning to look at the aire there and see what we thought about stopping the night.

The rain continued, fine horrible stuff where your windscreen wipers are constantly flicked between timed and on, that is until they decide that flying all over the place would be a better idea. The one in front of me flew to the left and stayed there, the middle one carried on as normal and the one on the passenger side just stopped completely. I pulled over as soon as I could and pulled up the bonnet and the problem was easy to see. The bar that controls the two outside wipers had come off the bar attached to the middle, motorized wiper, which is why the middle one was still working.

We were about 30km from Niort so I drove with one wiper working toward the town hoping to find a garage that could help us out. Just before we got into the main town we passed a small garage so we went there and asked them to look at it for us. A young chap had a look, twisted some nuts and fetched his colleague who joined in with much shaking of the head and muted discussion. They recommended a Fiat dealer up the road. We thanked them and feeling confident that a pucker Fiat dealer would easily sort it, set off on the directions they gave us. We pulled onto the main road and I put the ‘wiper’ on, it did half a forward motion and stopped, right in the middle of the screen. Great.

I missed the turn that we had to take so pulled up and opened the bonnet again to see that the motor was turning but the wiper mount was just sliding. We decided that we should try and get to the dealership as the rain wasn’t that bad and it was close by. We set off onto a dual carriageway and soon saw the dealership on the other side of the road, across another dual carriageway. We cursed, carried on and saw the sign for the island which would allow us to turn around. We didn’t make it as the rain got too bad for it to be safe to drive without wipers so we pulled into a large Le Clerk supermarket car park and discussed our options. It was most frustrating that the Fiat dealership was less than a mile away.

Whilst waiting for the rain to stop, Lorna phoned the insurance, we have European breakdown cover so we thought at least someone might be able to come to us if we couldn’t move. After going through the usual questions and the ‘checking of the policy’ we were told that we would be rang back. We talked about stopping on the car park for the night, waiting for the rain to stop and to make our way to the aire which was about 5km away or, best case, someone came out to help us. Not long after the insurance rang back and recommended we go to a Peugeot dealership on the same ‘estate’. Apparently, Fiat, Peugeot, Citroën, all the same as far as wipers are concerned.

We made our tentative way to the Peugeot dealer. Lorna expertly explained our problem and, after waiting for a while a chap came out and guided us to a motorhome dealer just up the road who he said would help us. We drove there and arrived to see that it was closed, 4pm, closed? We’d seen another place that looked like a garage on our way to the motorhome pdealer so we headed back there. Lorna again explained our problem to a spectacled mechanic who was soon head under bonnet, taking sharp breaths in. He guided us to a garage just down the road.

It’s quite amazing that all of these contact points were within 500 yards of each other, quite lucky considering the weather. We pulled up at the next garage and it too looked closed. A desperate check of the door to the sparse showroom found that it was open and soon enough, Lorna was in the reception again explaining our problem. A mechanic soon had his head under the bonnet and ushered us to the rear of the building, to the workshops.

In The Workshop

After a bit if a conference with his colleague, the whole wiper assembly was in pieces and, following a bit of spot welding it was all back together again, working! The bill of just under 24 was amazing and we decided to leave the equivalent of a days budget as a tip for the most helpful mechanic who helped us out so efficiently.

I forgot to mention that we went shopping on the way to Saumur and managed to pick up a pack of 30 fuses to fix my blown fuse problem from last night. We were pleased to pick them up as when we pulled up on the aire in Niort (N46•19’47 W0•27’55), in the dark at 6pm, the new fuse was fitted and we had all of the lights working. The rest of the evening was spent walking Jack and watching Coronation Street (sorry but a completely random explosion followed by a train crash? A bit too far eh? 50 years or not). A dirty great Toulouse sausage baguette with onions and a few glasses of wine followed and we slept well after another one of ‘those’ days.

A hearty meal indeed!

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5 responses

10 12 2010
David

Interesting, Steve… especially the bit about the banger baguette!

10 12 2010
Steve Green

You can’t beat a good banger baguette, especially with a sausage like that!

10 12 2010
lorna green

I have to point out that there was only one banger left but I was more than happy to stand back and let steve scoff it. He really deserved it after driving us around several garages practically blindfolded. It was really very frightening. I am so thankful to that lovely mechanic for not giving up on us. It was too easy for all the others to shake their heads and pass the buck as it approached closing time. Thanks man at Mendes France – you ran off before I could get your name.

28 12 2010
Phil

that sausage looks bloody lovely. I want it. Now.

28 12 2010
Steve Green

You and your sausage fetish eh!

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