Don’t get me wrong, there are some great charging points, like the one we’re at now in Besançon. It’s another Lidl. It’s free. It worked first time.
There are also, some duff ones. About two hours ago, we had a frustrating and wasted 20 minutes on the phone to Sodetrel. Their website said the charge point at Langres services was working, although the Chargemap app warned otherwise. We risked it, but the machine didn’t recognise our Sodetrel RFID card.
A tip on another EV site suggested ringing Sodetrel and so we did. They tried to be helpful. They reset the machine remotely. That didn’t work. They tried to issue a code to put into the terminal to give us a free charge. That didn’t work. They ran out of ideas, we ran out of patience. That worked a bit.
Since then we’ve had a great journey across the French countryside on A roads, via Gray. It isn’t the route the satnav suggested, but it’s the one we know and like, and meant we could keep the car at 90kmph (56mph), which seems to be the most efficient speed. Because we’re still not sure how the i3 will cope with the mountains and to guard against the risk that none of the charge points in Besançon might be working, we kept the REx going all the way. Deeply not green, but we don’t want to end up on the back of a recovery truck.
Half way between Langres and Besançon, in Gray, we had a ten minute luxury reward stop. To what end? Well, it’s a little known fact that however many options you try, coffee at French motorway service stations isn’t great. However fancy the automatic machine looks (and some of them are branded Lavazza) or even if you go to the proper restaurant, the coffee tastes drab. But, at McDonald’s in Gray, they do a fine cup. So good that we opt to have two per person, decanting them into a big thermos-mug to drink over the next hundred miles. So the last sip is as we arrive at the supermarket in Besançon.
Of course, this Lidl charge post is working brilliantly, and again free. But the hill climbs are about to begin in earnest.