Monday, 27 May 2013

Renovation Project - Roadside assistance in France

Renovation Project - Roadside assistance in France

Well today is the day, we are going to pick up my daughter and baby granddaughter from the airport, I could burst with excitement at this moment, I don’t think I have ever been happier!

The plane is due to arrive at 11.15am, she has had quite a journey as she has to be at the airport in the UK at 8 am which means setting off at 5.30am, it’s going to be a long day for her and I hope the baby is good on the plane.

We set off at 8.30am, this will surprise her not only will I be there on time but we will be early, she will get a shock at that, I want to be able to see them walk through the arrival gate.

We check the diesel level and have 280 miles in the tank so no need to stop on the way.

The journey is lovely, there is still mist as we drive through the forest and the scenery is gorgeous, the journey goes without any hiccups and we are still set to be early, the sat nav says we have 8 miles to go when John starts to pull over on the motorway, I ask what is the matter and John explains that the car has just died!

I think there must be just a slight problem as this really cannot be happening, once pulled over John tries the car again and it is as dead as a dodo, OMG this really cannot be happening the plane is due to land in 20 minutes, John lifts the bonnet and cannot understand what is happening, the battery is fully charged, there is diesel, the oil is fine what the hell is happening? John puts the emergency signs around the car; you have to have these in France by law. We get the car paperwork out and john asks me to ring the breakdown recovery, I am starting to get a bit hysterical, what do we ask them to do if they can’t fix it by the road, tow us to the airport or tow us to a garage????

I speak to the break down recovery and explain that we are in France (we are still covered by the UK company as we travel there so much, we just have to call and let them know when we are in France, but we forgot to do it when we came back!) we are not covered!!!!!

I am now quite hysterical, I am crying down the phone explaining the situation to the breakdown company and they say that they can cover us there and then but it will cost £400 GBP to set up and then what ever we are charged will be in addition! They then suggest we ring our insurance company, I do this and become even more hysterical, the girl on the phone says she will speak to her manager and call me back. The plane has now landed and we are stuck on the motorway, I try calling my daughter and can’t get through, I try texting her to explain we have broken down!

I am beyond distraught, we are left with no option, John calls Brian and Sheila and asks them to come out to the airport, John also thinks the car may have ran out of diesel, they agree to come I am so relieved but they have almost a 2 hour drive and I still can’t get hold of my daughter.

I try ringing her partner to get a message to her and it goes to answer machine, I am left with no option I have to ring may parents and ask them to try to get hold of her, I do this very calmly pretending there is no problem as I really don’t want them to worry (they will now freak when they read this!).

An orange van pulls up behind us, and for a brief moment I thought it was the AA, but it wasn’t, it was a highways van, the two guys are great, we discuss what is wrong and they ask if we have roadside assistance, and we explain that we do but they will not come, they then offer to call the police as it is illegal to be on a national road without break down assistance, the police can arrange to sort the car out. We explain that we have assistance on its way but it will still be an hour before it arrives, John explains that he thinks it may just be out of diesel and they offer to take our petrol can and go to get some for us, OMG they are knights in shining armour!!!!

The insurance company call back and offer to pay 50 percent of any costs, but this will be after we pay upfront, we are looking at possibly a 1000 euro bill for what may be just no diesel!!!
The highway guys help us to get the car as close to the verge as possible and then cordon us off with cones. Please let them come back soon.

We have now been here for an hour and I still have not been able to contact my daughter, I don’t know if she has brought any euro’s or enough baby milk, as now you cannot bring liquids on an aeroplane, allsorts is going through my mind. I then have a brain wave and call Theresa (another friend in France), I explain what has happened and ask if she can call the airport and get a message to my daughter, please let them be helpful!!!!!

She calls back and the airport were unbelievably helpful, they went to find my daughter and passed her the phone, apparently she had got the text messages so knew what was happening and wasn’t too worried. So I feel a bit better now.

We wait for the highways guys to come back and am so relieved when we see them, they come with the diesel and fill the car, John primes the engine (apparently you have to do this with a diesel) and it kicks over, it was out of diesel, but as it kicks over it splutters, the stuffing battery has died now, OMG can this day get any worse? YES because now I am bursting for the toilet, I am in tears again, I am beyond distraught now.

Brian and Sheila should be here in an hour so the highways guys leave us with the cones and ask that we put them on the side of the motorway when we leave. We just hope that Brian pulls up behind us with the jump leads as the battery is in the boot of our car.

We wait and we wait and we wait, time goes so slowly when you are desperate, and then Brian pulls in, in front of us, how did John not see him to wave him in?
Brian has the can of diesel but not the jump leads, he took them out of his car last night!

We go to the airport and say we will find a garage to buy some jump leads from and come back to rescue John. I realise that whilst we are driving we have come a different way to the normal route, and I wonder how the hell we are ever going to find John when we leave the airport, but at this moment all I can think of is getting to my daughter and baby granddaughter.

When we arrive they are sat happily in the airport cafe, my big happy reunion is ruined, I am now just so relieved to see them, also a bit worried as I expect her to go mad at me, but she doesn’t she is so calm, and just says these things happen!!!

We drive to a large supermarket and manage to buy some jump leads (very expensive jump leads but at this point who cares!) and now we have to try to find John, luckily the sat nav shows a blue line on the screen for recent journeys, so we are able to retrace our steps.

We find him and the car is charged, it works thank goodness! My daughter and the baby stay in Brian's car so we don’t have to get the baby seat out on the side of the motorway and we drive back in our car.

We now realise that our car computer is not working properly as when the car started up it still said that we had over 200 miles left in the petrol tank!

We arrive home and only now do I get to give them a proper welcome, it is so good to have them here!

I am exhausted now and a little emotional so I will finish off by giving some tips for driving on French roads

Top tips

·         You MUST have breakdown cover/roadside assistance
·         If you travel between two countries often make sure you read the small print on your cover
·         You must have the breakdown triangle in your car at all times
·         You must have high visibility jackets and wear them if you break down
·         Fill your car with diesel before you set off (no matter what the stupid car computer says!!!!)
·         Go to the toilet before setting off on a long journey!
·         Always have a can of cheap deodorant for priming the engine

And finally a very big heartfelt thank to everyone who helped today, the highways guys, the car drivers who pulled up to check we were OK, the old guy who couldn’t help but gave us a bottle of water, Theresa for putting my mind at rest and Brian for driving all this way and back with a smile on his face, you were all truly wonderful


  1. Our French insurance includes breakdown recovery and overs us if we drive to UK (not that we do very often). I don't really like everything being computerised on cars - our new car even has an automatic handbrake which I justbdon't trust! Glad it all ended well

    1. Ha ha ha don't blame you, bloody computers!!!!!!!

  2. Sandra Pounder27 May 2013 at 05:15

    OMG Jen Trauma or what?? That is the type of thing that would happen to me!!!! Hope Kayleigh & Poppy are OK and you are by now enjoying FAMILY TIME xxxx <3

    1. Had an amazing visit, she is absolutely gorgeous :)

      thanks Sandra

  3. Hello
    This is really very terrible situation...........Not acceptable.
    car recovery

    Thanks for sharing your experience with us............very nice post

    1. Thanks so much Catherine, the UK recovery company were terrible, but the girl on the phone ws very sympathetic but could not change anything