North for the day to Saint Nazaire and another car problem appears

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Europe » France » Pays-de-la-Loire » Saint-Nazaire
September 3rd 2013
Published: September 10th 2013
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Although we had been assured that the car was safe to drive the fact that every time we started her up she flashed the series of warning lights was still a concern. And we were soon to have an even greater concern about the car but more about that shortly.

We had overcome the problem of waking up cold as we did the previous morning by making sure we had all the blankets on the bed at nightime which was a relief. There is nothing worse than waking up early because of a lack of warmth and then having trouble getting back to sleep for the regulation hours.

Even though it was another beautiful, cloudless morning the sun took its time to penetrate the tall trees and it wasn’t warm enough to have breakfast on the deck.

The internet connection here in the mobile home has been tenuous to say the least and we rely upon it for emails, Skype calls home and of course forward travel arrangements. We knew that the range of the wifi signal would be challenged from the office at the entrance to the camp to where our mobile home was situated in the camp ground but we had been encouraged when we arrived to find that we got a connection quickly.

This morning however no matter what we did and where we placed the laptop there was nothing coming through. So in desperation we tried one more location higher up inside with a relatively clear view towards the office. It worked!!Needless to say that Gretchen had to take a photo as a record of the location of the laptop while I was checking the emails. Luckily no one called on Skype while the laptop was located on top of the microwave and above the fridge because we weren’t sure how we would both be able to be in view of the camera and conduct the call together!!

The road up to Saint Nazaire follows around the edge of a large hooked shaped bay with Saint Nazaire on the top side. It also passes through an area known as Marais Breton which is essentially a marsh area of some 450sq kilometres with canals and channels, some with water and some dry. Along the D758 we passed a couple of large mounds of salt in paddocks and we noticed that this was for sale to passerbys.Oblong small tracts of land had been excavated down to sea level and after the salt water evaporated the sea salt was scooped off into a mound. Obviously there had been no treatment of the end product so what you bought would be the real stuff.

It was while we were on the D758 that Cindy threw up a problem that led us to decide that we would need to find another Citroen garage in Saint Nazaire to have the reoccurring fault looked at.

We discovered as passed through one small village with a number of roundabouts that were very tight which of course had the effect of slowing us down considerably and then as we got right down to first gear because of traffic in the tight roundabout when we came out and started to accelerate away she wouldn’t move up the gears staying stubbornly in first.

The only remedy was to stop and turn the engine off and then start her up again which seemed to have the effect of resetting what was ever wrong with the faulty contact.

With the long and tall bridge over the Loire leading into Saint Nazaire ahead we got a fix from the GPS of a Citroen garage and headed straight for it hoping that there would be something that could be done to fix the problem once and for all.

Thankfully one of the mechanics spoke and understood English reasonably well and he agreed to look at the diagnostics when they opened up for lunch again at 2pm.

We had come prepared to have lunch beside the seaside and so we took our chilly bag with baguette, cheese, ham and drink and set off to the promenade just a short walk away knowing that we had at least 3 hours to fill in.

The city of 70,000 people has a history that goes back to Neolithic days and like many other places we have visited, a colourful history over more recent times. During WW2 after France surrender the Germans built a submarine base for its U-Boats. The massive concrete structure still stands today housing a museum etc.The concrete ceiling was a staggering 9 metres thick and was able to withstand the largest bomb dropped from an aeroplane of the time.

The dry dock was the only one capable on the Atlantic coast of servicing the German battleships Bismarck and Tirpitz and therefore the city came in for a lot of attention by the Allies including the St Nazaire raid of March 1942 when the British used an obsolete destroyed rammed full of explosives to sail into the harbour and severely damage the dock to the extent it was never used by the Germans again through the remainder of the war. The city, because of the shipyards was on the end of numerous bombing raids and a lot of the town had to be rebuilt after the war hence a more modern look to it than many French towns and cities.

We found a spot in the shade for lunch and spent an hour or so relaxing and people watching not that there were that many out on the expansive beach as the day warmed up into the low 30C’s.

The promenade looked like it was easy to stroll and so we followed the curve of the bay and around a couple of points to where we lost interest in what we were seeing and the path petered out. We returned the same way and stopped at a beachside cafe for a coffee under a sun umbrella as we still had time to fill in before they said the car would be ready for us.

There didn’t seem to be a lot to see away from the beach and it was just as well we didn’t head into the town area as we were soon to find out.

We got back to the garage and they said that they had ordered the part to replace the faulty contact which should fix all the faults including getting stuck in first gear which was probably related to the other faults showing up on the GPS screen. He wouldn’t be sure of this until the part was fitted and the car taken for a test run.

The problem was that the part wouldn’t be there until 5pm and it would take an hour to fit and test and the time was now just 3pm.So we had another 3 hours to fill in. The day was going to be a long one by the time we completed the 1 ½ hour drive back home.

We headed off to take a look at what had been the German submarine base and found the tourist office which had trips on offer to the Airbus factory where they put together the interiors of the Airbus. However we were about half an hour too late for the last tour.

The vast ex submarine base is certainly an amazing structure and it is mind boggling to think of the amount of concrete and steel that went into making this building which measures 300m x 130m x 18m and had room for up to 14 submarines. A total of nearly half a million cubic metres of concrete went into its construction.

We had been a while since we had anything to drink so we headed up to the town area for a coffee and then spent the rest of the time we had to wait until 6pm enjoying some more people watching on the promenade in the warm late afternoon sun.

By the time we got back to the garage the car had been fixed and we drove back home relieved that the GPS screen wasn’t going to talk back to us and flash warning lights. The replacement of the contact had also fixed the gear problem that had cropped up on the drive to Saint Nazaire.

It hadn’t been a particularly profitable day in terms of sightseeing being contained most of the day to Saint Nazaire but some day’s things don’t always go the way you want them to.

We arrived back home at just after 7.30pm with the temperature still at 30C so hopefully tonight we won’t need all those blankets to keep warm.


11th September 2013

Great to see the overall travel map
Seems like I have to select in the map area if I want to see the map now but it is there and yesterday's entry shows just how much of Europe you have seen this time-amazing!
11th September 2013

24,100km and counting in the car.Just another 40 or 50km to go tomorrow and we hand Cindy back.

Tot: 3.541s; Tpl: 0.047s; cc: 19; qc: 92; dbt: 0.0715s; 3; m:saturn w:www (; sld: 1; ; mem: 1.5mb