Thursday, January 14, 2010

Pneu de Neige, Peu de Neige

There has been snow and ice here, little bits every day and a big storm over the weekend, and Mr. Liberty does not currently have snow tires.  When we bought him, last spring, he came with a set of 4.  Naturally, I brought them to the tire shop to be installed.

Well, the employee took one look at the tires and said they were no good, and we needed four new ones.  Cost would be about 270 Euros.  I was a bit suspicious and went to a garage nearby.  They took a look at the tires for me, said they looked OK, but that they didn’t exchange tires.  Then I headed for the garage that serviced Mr. Liberty in the past.  They took a look, said 2 were fine and 2 were bad and offered to provide two new ones and change them all for 240 Euros. 

What’s a girl to do?

It’s always frustrating when this kind of thing happens.  I mean, the fact of the matter is that they can tell I’m a foreigner and a woman.  Either way you slice it, it’s prejudice, plain and simple.  It’s clear that there is some kind of disconnect going on here but who should I believe?

If we weren’t going to the Alps next weekend I might forget the whole thing but, fact is, I’ve been slipping and sliding around here in Besançon without them.  In fact, I got so stuck I had to beg for assistance from random strangers, twice in the last week.  I’m sure that has absolutely nothing to do with my driving skills and, once I have snow tires, I will no longer quake at the sight of a patch of ice or a lumpy parking spot.   André took a look and thinks we need 2 new ones.  Hopefully we can get this all straightened out before Switzerland.

Snow removal here stinks.  The big storm ended last weekend but the sidewalks are not clear anywhere in our neighborhood except in front of a few houses that decided to be gracious enough to shovel for the masses.  I always do a fair bit of walking but on Tuesdays I walk about 2 miles to my various classes.  The snow was still so deep but soft that it was like walking or running on a beach and, despite my boots, hard to always keep my balance or a decent pace.  My legs are still sore! When I went to my English conversation class this week the older people were very angry about the mess and I’ve felt so sad watching how some of the less mobile are literally inching their way along, clinging to the walls or trashcans and struggling over curbs covered in icy snow.  I have no idea how one could possibly leave their house if they were unfortunate enough to have crutches or be in a wheelchair.  French moms are still trying to use strollers, and it is almost comical to see how often they get stuck and how slow they have to go, shoving valiantly on through the slushy mush.  In general, kids in France use strollers until an older age then they do in the US.  It is common to see kids older than 3 in strollers wherever you go.  In this case, I just don’t get it though.  I know that kid can walk!  Get his butt out of that stroller!

In the US, almost everyone shovels their sidewalk and the use of salt or sand to help on ice is common.  The city also comes around with snow plows and clears the common areas.  Here, not so much.  Some businesses clear their lots but most of them are ice rinks in need of a zamboni.   I guess all those extra taxes we pay here in France just don’t cover snow removal.

It’s funny though.  This winter is the first winter in a long time that feels like, well, winter!  It is cold, there is snow and we can sled and drink hot cocoa.   When I go out I need a coat and hat and gloves.  I like it and so do the kids who have been having fun, slipping around, falling on their butts and sledding.

I guess it all depends on your perspective, and maybe your driving skills just a little bit….


Ilmi Nadhrah Katiman said...

Hello there..

my name is ilmi.. i am going to besancon for my holiday and looking foward to meet the locals there.

waiting for your reply;


Ilmi Nadhrah Katiman said...

sorry, i forgot to say that i found your blog through google.

hope to hear from you soon

Alain said...


My name is Alain, I'm French and I live in Philadelphia with my wife Adeline... We used to live in Besancon 2 years ago! Small world! A friend just sent me the recent newspaper interview you had in Besancon, and there I am on your blog. I will read everything when I get a chance :-)

And we have a blog too:

Marie said...

Not easy in Berlin as well, and we have 4 pneus neige !

james said...


My name is James. I just read the article in l'Est and had to reply. I'm originally from TN and moved to Besac in 2004. My wife, who is French, and I moved to a nearby village in 2007 with our 2 children. I'm always looking to meet other Americans (I currently know a small handful of Franco-American families in Besac and the outlying area) and hope you'll drop me a line. In any case, good luck with driving, the language, the culture, working...

Best wishes and happy new year,


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