A Hole in the … Tyre

Another beautiful morning greeted us. We putzed around the campsite doing chores and preparing to find the "local" McWiFi in Marennes for some publishing. We’d be needing some supplies and some diesel, too, so this was a driving day. Since we’d be crossing to the north of La Seudre to get to Marennes, we thought we’d combine our excursion with a visit to Brouage just a a few miles further north. We left at about 11:30 AM as the skies were beginning to cloud over.

McDonalds was classically easy to find on a roundabout on the outskirts of Marennes. We popped in for two espressos, one sundae de la saison (cherry) for you-know-who, and a publishing of the last four days blog entries. Two were glitchy and timed out but we eventually got them done. Though we were in the "restaurant" this time, it was good to see another punter sitting in the car park using his lap top.

Brouage main street Administration over, we set off for Brouage, an old fortified village now lying in the middle of a marsh. This place is quite exceptional. It is an old town, apparently housing "some 4000 souls" in the 17th century, and is completely surrounded by fortified walls. The wall formation is essentially a square but each corner of the square has protruding structures giving covering fire over the outside of the main walls. There are small turrets scattered at intervals along the walls. It used to be on the coast but, I suspect due to the silting up off the estuary, now stands in a marshy area.

Brouage fortified walls We played tourist wandering around the fortified walls, then returned to the car to drive back to Marennes in search of a supermarket for some food and diesel. Driving into the local Leclerc, there was a foreboding "clack, clack" sound coming from one of our wheels as it rotated. A quick visual inspection, having pulled into a suitably empty part of the car park, revealed a large screw embedded in the right rear tyre. "Bother", or words to that effect! Time to learn how to jack up the relatively new car. This was becoming something of a habit; we’d had a similar incident with a nail embedded in one of our previous car’s tyres two years ago down in the Gers region. Carol went in to do the shopping in the nice, cool, air-conditioned supermarket while I set about the messy and sweaty business of changing the wheel (which didn’t seem yet to have lost any pressure) in the hot, grubby car park.

Messy, sweaty task and nice, cool shopping completed, we discovered that this Leclerc had relatively reasonably priced diesel but, since nobody was in la caisse, we couldn’t actually buy any. We did try. (Same old problem of UK bank/credit cards not being accepted by French automated machinery.) Some things in this technologically advanced society still seem painfully archaic. We drove off to the local Intermarché to try there but, not only did that have no person in la caisse, it didn’t appear to have any fuel in the pumps either; they were all cordoned off. Could the good ol’ French fuel protests finally be causing an effect?

We drove back to our local town, Les Mathes, and managed to find a Shopi supermarket with both some fuel in the pumps and someone in la caisse. Not only did they have diesel but it was also a relatively reasonable price. Relief – we now had a full tank which would be more than enough to get us to our next stop. There’s also a tyre place next door to the Shopi so I should be able to get the puncture fixed. For now, though, we had to get the food home to stop it spoiling.

The skies had continued to darken and thunder arrived while we were having a late lunch outside. The thunder was rolling around gently a little distance away. It got closer and forceful rain and lightening followed shortly thereafter. It looks as though the puncture will have to wait until tomorrow.

At least I didn’t have to change the wheel in pouring rain.

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