La Vie en France #9: Cheap Gas, Sundays and Creative Solutions

“When in Rome do as the Romans do,” goes the popular phrase.  Said differently, when travelling abroad one can’t expect everything to be done as it is in one’s home country.  That is definitely true when travelling from suburban USA to rural France.  Here are a few examples:



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Gas Prices and Finding Cheap Gas

Gas is expensive in Europe:  Right now the cheapest diesel is about €1.30 per liter.  €1.30 x 3.78 liters per gallon x $1.13 exchange rate = $5.55 per gallon!

Generally speaking, the large hypermarkets, Cora, Intermarché and E.Leclerc offer the best prices on all grades of gasoline as a way to attract customers.  In small towns, one could expect to pay €0.10 to €0.15 per liter higher.  That’s a lot when a gas tank holds 50+ liters.

Addition:  When in France, the Romans go to Luxembourg for cheap gas.  Thanks to Erna Kampman-Schmidt of St. Mihiel, France for the comment.  The author confirmed this today:  Diesel is €0.972 per liter x 3.87 liters per gallon x $1.13 exchange rate = $4.25 per gallon.  So, if you happen to be traveling close to Luxembourg, fill up in Luxembourg.


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Sundays and Getting Gas on Sundays

Stores are closed on Sunday.  Period!  This includes gas stations.  However, many gas stations have an automatic pump that one can use with credit cards:  The 24/24 pump on the left in the above photo.  However, the Webmaster has had many experiences where his credit cards are not accepted.  Driving down to St. Mihiel the Webmaster tried five cards, two debit and three credit, at an Intermarché gas station south of Verdun and none of them worked.  He does not know why.  Perhaps an Intermarché credit card was needed.



Creative Solution #1 when cards don’t work and one needs gas

If another driver pulls up and has a card that works, explain (verbally or with hand gestures) that the card doesn’t work.  Offer to pay them cash in exchange for the use of their card.  The Webmaster has done this more than once over the years.


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Creative Solution #2 when cards don’t work and one needs gas

Head for the nearest Autoroute.  France’s Autoroutes have rest areas with gas and food about every 20 – 30 miles.  After being unable to use cards at an Intermarché south of Verdun the Webmaster drove onto the A4.  There was an Aire (Oasis) in about 10km and the next exit was about 16km away.  A  one exit detour to fill up an empty gas tank was a much better alternative than running out of gas in rural France on a Sunday!!!


Creative Solution #3 when cards don’t work and one needs gas

Think ahead and fill up the tank on Saturday.  But who does that?