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gas bottle

February 8, 2009

When I moved to France toute seule three years ago I wasn't worried about whether or not I'd make any new friends or miss my life in London. Nor did the prospect of renovating a house alone really bother me. There was only one tricky problem that I could see: who would I get to help me with the gas bottle?

Since mains gas does not exist in France, most people cook by connecting a bottle of gas to the oven - trust me, this is never as straightforward as it sounds - and first you have to get the cumbersome, heavy thing home from the local Intermarché. (Recently, a friend admitted that replacing the gas bottle was also her chief concern when she split up with her other half shortly after moving to France. Fortunately, she has since acquired a very nice live-in boyfriend who takes care of the problem).

The last time I had to perform the loathesome maneouvre was just over a year ago. After wrestling the enormous empty bottle - as heavy as a slab of concrete - into the boot of my car and back to the supermarket, I struggled home with the new, even heavier, bottle only to find that I couldn't undo the valve. I tried everything including pliers, a spanner and a wrench-like thing that I found in the garage with no success and then - rather than take the blasted bottle back to the supermarket - waited several days for a passing friend to do it.

He finally managed to undo the valve but not before declaring that was probably faulty and pointing out that I'd bought the wrong kind of gas (there are at least half a dozen colours of bottle to choose from). By this point, I'd lost the will to live and was happy to take the risk.

Since then, I have been living in fear - not of being blown up by a faulty bottle - but of the pesky thing running out again. (The worst fear is that it will run out at an untimely moment such as Christmas day or when you've got people over for dinner.)

It finally did so on Saturday afternoon while I was in the middle of making parsnip soup. Since Luis was nowhere to be seen - really what's the point of having un copin if they can't take care of this chore - and since I was going out to dinner with friends, I put off the dreaded gas bottle run until this morning. But I got to the local Intermarché this morning only to find that the gas bottle kiosk has changed its opening times and was closed.

The gas bottle business is enough to make you want to hit a bottle of a different kind.

comments (2)

1. Posted by Susie on February 9, 2009 10:16 AM

They are awful things, and the worst part is lifting them in and out of the car. It's usually easier to carry them on the passenger seat rather than in the boot. After that, they are relatively easy to move around if you tilt them slightly to one side and then roll them along. But mind you don't drop them on your toe. That really hurts. Take it from me. :-) As long as you have the right bottle, and a good valve, attaching them is simple. If you would like a demonstration, or a hand next time, I'm an expert. :-)

2. Posted by Alex (in Bretagne) on September 7, 2009 8:53 AM

I know this was February and it's now September, but I'm starting from the beginning so I get to this now. Anyway the thing is (he said being practical)change the damn bottle for something smaller and lighter. Get a couple of Cubees or those with the little window in the side, both of which are far lighter, and have a clip on valve, and the Intermarché will take your old huge thing in return. That's what my (slightly) aged mother did and now she swings her Cube out of her Twingo with gay abandon*, switching from the exhausted bottle to the new, spare one in seconds, once even in the middle of an omlette.

*Well maybe not but you get my drift.

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