Auto Parts & Nougat – From Vienne to Montelimar

by Mar 5, 2019France, Mishaps & Misadventures, Winter Tour 2017-2018

On Tuesday morning we woke in better spirits. A good night’s sleep really does work wonders. And we were ready, and resolved, to face the problem of fixing Iggy’s exhaust.  We needed to attach something to his broken tailpipe to take the fumes downwards, away from the vehicle and the tyres.  If we stumbled across a place to get the tailpipe replaced – well and good.  Otherwise a makeshift, but solid, repair would do until we got to Sicily.  If we couldn’t find a mechanic to replace a Fiat tailpipe there…Well where could we?!

Vienne looked like an interesting town, and Google maps also showed up a lot of Auto Parts stores.  Setting off to explore we found the closest one, just down the road from our free aire, was a small independent shop.  Perfect!  We’d had enough of big stores yesterday, and this was just what we were looking for.

The nice bits were okay. Like barges and rivers

They weren’t open for another couple of hours though, so we set off on a wander while we were waiting. Our hearts weren’t quite in it though as we couldn’t stop thinking about whether we’d be able to get Iggy fixed up or not. The roads were busy. It was cold. But the river was still a decent walk. Although the underpasses were of the kind habituated by lost souls with nowhere safe to go. Empty alcohol cans, the smell of urine so strong in places that we had to hold our breathe. Even, at one point, human faeces in a corner with tissue.

Heading back in the direction of the Auto Store we passed some of the historic buildings. The cold was gnawing at our faces and I spotted small huddles of men waiting outside a church side door.

Waiting to start work maybe. But to my eye they had the look of the homeless. Waiting for a service to open. Maybe food, maybe medical care. Maybe just somewhere to get out of the cold for a few hours.

I could be wrong. But once you have worked in the shelters you get a nose for spotting them. Poverty and trauma are hard taskmasters. And I was grateful once again to be able to spend my days in a home I loved, with people I love, doing the things I most love.

Fantastic! Just what we were looking for!

Back at the shop, and the owner was hugely helpful. He spoke no English, but seemed able to understand my terrible French as though I was comprehensible and making sense!

After 15 minutes exploring different options we left with a section of pipe and two clamps for joining two pipes together.  Perfect!  And only 12 Euros too! 

Back to Iggy,  ( With a quick stop at Lidl on the way.  (We were out of bread,  Jay’s cake store was running low, and the beer and wine stores were empty!!) and out comes the hacksaw again. 

We salvage what we can from the squashed part of the tailpipe Jay had sawn off yesterday.  Angled just so, this will be connected to the remaining pipe and should get us safely on the road again. 

The still attached section of pipe needs trimming.  I pace uncomfortably while Jay struggles under Iggy with the saw.  I hate watching people under vehicles.  They look so vulnerable with just their legs sticking out.  I’m always waiting, sick to my stomach, for the vehicle to come crashing down on top of them.  I know it’s silly, but it’s just one of those things.  Too many horror films when I was younger I guess.

Thankfully the worst does not happen and Jay eventually emerges – safe and triumphant – from under Iggy’s 3.5 tonne body.  It’s done!  He did it!!  Who knew he could be so clever at fixing things? My hero!

The afternoon is getting late.  Vienne waits to be explored, but we feel like we’ve wasted too much time sitting around.  We just want to get back on the road.  It doesn’t matter if we get to Sicily by Christmas – but we’d like to none the less.  Slapping “Avignon” into our TomTom we hit the road while I get on to park4night to decide where we’re really going.

 Avignon is where we would have been going tonight if we’d made it too Valence yesterday as planned.  As it stands it’s a little bit too far for today after all the Iggy fixing.  But what’s this?  Montelimar?  Just a nice drive away?  How did I not notice this before?  The home of nougat. I love nougat! Oh boy are we stopping there!!

And so it was that we drove down the Rhone valley as the low winter sun sank slowly towards night on our right. The river slides past, wide, slow and mighty. Quaint villages, gorgeous murals, old forts, and off to our left snow topped walls of mountains, hiding like sleeping gaints in the cloud.

And finally, in the last dusting of sunset, we slipped into the motorhome Aire in Montélimar.

The aire was free, with stunning views out to the circling mountains.  If you’re going to use it though beware!  Satnav led us a merry dance trying to go up roads where motorhomes are not permitted to get there.  You need to take the road round the back of Leclerc’s and the McDonald’s.  You’ll see what I mean if you go there!

Montelimar is a picturesque town in a beautiful setting in the Rhone valley. We were tired from the long stresses of the day but the aire is just a few minutes walk from the centre so off we went out to explore.

We spent a peaceful hour or three just wandering the Christmas decorated streets. Laughing, chatting, pointing out this thing and that thing. The roundabout held a statue of a giant Kiwi bird wearing ics-skates… There must have been a good reason right?

And then home, stopping at the Supreme Nougat store almost on our doorstep!  Well it would be rude not to!  Mmmmm.  Eating nougat in Montelimar.  Mmmmmmm.  

 We treated ourselves to a 5 Euro bag.  It didn’t make it out of Montélimar…

Fi. x

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