Conclusion

Here’s some thoughts on our experience;

The holiday

  • An experience, a challenge & an adventure!
  • We very much enjoyed it, but it wasn’t always the most relaxing holiday!
  • Travelling “little by little”, we’ve seen lots of interesting places that we wouldn’t otherwise have seen.
  • We’ve met lots of people and we were very impressed with all the spontaneous help we’ve had when we needed it most!
  • We’re very glad we took the car train from Nice to Paris and back, as it would have been too much otherwise.
  • We know we’ve sold at least one LEAF with this holiday ๐Ÿ™‚ (Callum, I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!)
  • Quote from Alex: “There’s holidays and there’s adventures, in adventures things don’t always go right. This was an adventure wasn’t it?”

Charging

  • Organised networks of charging points are a must!ย E-laad / ChargeYourCar / NI-ecars / ESB-ecars were all very good. We also really appreciated having a contact that we could phone in case or problems. (OK that’s really only since it is early days, but it was reassuring, thanks!)
  • France and Scotland are sadly lacking any form of organised chargepoints. In Scotland I know they’re actively working on it. In France, there are localised networks of chargepoints both in Paris and in Nice, but nothing national. Also, the older charge points in Paris are being dismantled, and the new autolib system is no use (2hr charge max at those points)!
  • Hotels have been very willing to let us charge (apart from the Chimay brewery hotel – which is very dissapointing for what used to beย my favourite beer). It would be handy if more hotels would install actual charging points – or even just outside sockets (so that we can sleep with the window closed ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

The Car

We really really like the car, but there’s a few things we’d like to see improved:

  • Ventilation! It is impossible to have ventilation for the windscreen without also putting on the airconditioning. This just seems daft. We don’t want to be using extra battery for the airconditioning when a little outside air would do fine. This must be fixable with a software update.
  • Up-to-date charge point information in the car’s navigation device. One of the chargepoint networks told us it takes between 6 and 9 months (from the time they send it to Nissan) for a new point to appear in the car. That’s just rediculous. Can we not get realtime OCPP info in the car ?
  • The charge box delivered with the car is fixed at 10A. It would be really easy and very handy to make it switchable 6/10/13/16 A. We used OpenEVSE for this…
  • And then, last but not least, the range. We’re used to electric cars (our Saxo has 90km realistic range), but the range on the LEAF was sometimes a little dissapointing for the battery capacity (double that of the Saxo). At 90-100km/h average, you really can’t expect much more than a 120-130km. OK, we were heavily loaded 2 adults, 2 children and 124kg of luggage (of which 23kg for cables and charging equipment!),.ย At 60km/h average you probably could get the announced 175km.
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Final Itinerary

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Home!

At home with a grand total of 4468km since our departure 6 weeks ago!ย Of which about 1200 was commuting during the 2 weeks in Scotland, so 3268km for the trip. The extra kilometers compared to the plan are mostly due to the fact we made a much larger tour through Ireland than originally planned.

Unfortunately the train was delayed for over 3 hours, and the car-train even more, so we didn’t get the car until 15h30. But it came off the car train without any damage (surprising if you see how they drive them on and off… ๐Ÿ™ )

The picture to prove we arrived, same place as 6 weeks before:

Watch the blog for a conclusion and the map of the entire journey… A quick note; Did we enjoy it ? yes – very much ! We’ve seen lots of places and met lots of people. Though it wasn’t exactly a relaxing holiday… Would we do it again ? …not every year… ๐Ÿ™‚ (unless the infrastructure improves, especially in France)

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Paris

The last leg of the journey from Pacy-sur-Eure to Paris didn’t pose much of a problem. We stopped just outside of Paris at the Nissan garage in Chambourcy for a last quick charge so that the car would be charged when it went on the train.

We decided to go the “shortest route” through Paris, which took us round the Arc de Triomphe – very appropriate ๐Ÿ™‚

note: we never spotted the chargepoint that is indicated on the map above – they are replacing public charging points in Paris by “autolib” points (a shared electric car system) that are not available to the public… ๐Ÿ™ What does that do for promoting electric vehicles ?

On our arrival in Paris we were met by one of the french forum members, Patrick, with an electric Renault Kangoo at one of the older charging points that still remains. We had a good lunch, and it was very nice to be welcomed back this way!

After lunch we dropped of the car at the train, and spent the afternoon in de jardin des animaux before getting on the night-train ourselves in the evening.

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Much better day today!

When the garage owner picked us up in the morning, the car was indeed fully charged (he had already checked in the morning ๐Ÿ™‚ ). We set of direction Paris, but stopped in Caen for a quick top-up charge even though it was only 30km along. The next etape would be 115km, so better to be fully charged. The charging points in Caen were actually reserved for electric cars with markings and barriers !

Caen had yet another castle/fort ! (we’ve seen quite a few on our journey – good pass time when charging…)

We decided to stop in Lisieux for a picnic lunch, and found a campervan point by chance, so we did yet another top-up charge ๐Ÿ™‚

This extra hour of charge meant we didn’t have to make the detour to the public chargepoint in Elbeuf (40km out of our way all the same), and we could continue directly in the direction of Paris again. We stopped in Evreux, to book a hotel between there and Paris, and to have a look around. Very clean canal through the town, with lots and lots of big fish! (and Alex & Louise ready to join them)

The last hotel was in Pacy-sur-Eure. A small town along a river. Town itself is not anything special, but the hotel was nice, and the path along the river beside the hotel was almost disneyland like!

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Some days you wished you’d stayed in bed…

A very nice breakfast, freshly cooked rather than buffet style, was a good start to the day. Pity that it all changed when we found out the car had only charged about 50% ๐Ÿ™ We do not know what happened – it could have been the charge point, or it could have been the charge timer (which was set to charge from 2am, even though we had started the charge when we got on board), and the car was unplugged when we got there, so couldn’t see what state the charge point or the car were in. But fact was that we were never going to get to Caen today ! The crew let us stay onboard for another hour while everything was being unloaded. Here’s an empty boat :-):

The extra hour (and a half) got the charge to 8 bars, with the usual optimistic range of 125km. We had 97km to get to a Nissan dealer in Bayeux who Nissan Europe kindly contacted for us to see if we could get a plug. In our experience this was going to be tight! In the end we got there with all of 11km (1 bar) left, and we plugged in as soon as we got there.

However, we really should have stayed in bed! (it was a very comfortable cabin after all). When we got back after 3 hours, the car hadn’t charged yet again. The charger had detected a ground fault (we were plugged in through a number of extension leads), and as a result had stopped charging ๐Ÿ™

Luckely the garage owner was very very helpfull, and after phoning a number (5 or so) of bed&breakfasts that were all full, found us a place in a nearby Etap hotel, and brought us there, leaving our car charging in a proper socket in the garage this time… So here we are, all of 97km into France, and we really need to be in Paris on Friday !

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Last day in Ireland…

A visit to the Waterford Crystal factory for the girls, and the Waterford Round Tower for me and Alex in the morning of our last day in Ireland. The ferry was only 75km away, so no charge needed, but I couldn’t resist to quickly try the new charging point in the city. It was still under construction – with real dedicated spaces here ! Had to move some of the cones (the paint was almost dry ๐Ÿ˜‰ ), but it accepted the card today (previous night it hadn’t), and let us charge ! Very cool charge port with an automatic sliding door for the plug ๐Ÿ™‚ (a lot better than the previous siemens ports which are a pain to insert the plug into).

Then onto Rosslare to board the ferry. Got there just in time to get a space in front of the charger (3 cars later, and it would have been a lot more difficult !). We did book the charger in advance, but the loading manager had gotten the wrong information (expecting us to need a 12V battery charger). We were the first they’d ever seen using the charge point.

There is a “PodPoint” charger onboard the ferry (first time I’ve ever seen one of those), and it was a little complicated to get going (the buttons and the symbols on them were not visible due to lack of light). No manual either, but the car started charging after a few random button presses.

We had an excellent cabin on board the ship, which made for a nice end to the Ireland part of our trip ! Unfortunately “mum” had a bit of trouble with the waves… ๐Ÿ˜‰

Many thanks to the ESB in Ireland for their charging network and excellent support !

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Next stop Waterford

After a days rest in Galway we set of for Waterford the next morning. Two planned stops today, each with fast charger (which so far have been the most reliable actually).

First stop at the Nissan dealer in Limerick. Very nice welcome, and bemused looks at getting a French LEAF charging at their garage :-). Also a good time to get the car checked out after the troubles with the charger in Swinford, but no errors noted in the car’s log. Thanks guys !!!

This was probably one of the best fast charge stops in the children’s eyes, due to the huge indoor play area just beside it. In fact, I think they would have preferred it to be a SLOW charge ๐Ÿ˜‰

When we finally got them out of the play area (car ready for quite a while already), we continued to Cashel. Mostly famous for a ruined cathedral on a big rock in the middle of a flat landscape. Later we learned that this was also the home town of a certain Arthur Guinness – though I didn’t get the chance to sample it here ๐Ÿ™

A quick top up at the charger (we were only about 1/3 down from limerick). Once again cars parked in the spaces in front of the charger, but we managed to just get to it from a parking space on the other side. Alex’s turn to plug in…

Waterford was an easy 65km from here, and so this time we arrived at the hotel at a more reasonable 6pm. Extension cable required for the charging again here… vertically this time ๐Ÿ™‚

Successful day today ! Could do with some more like this !

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Galway

Since we arrived late at the hotel, I went and got the car charged at a fast charger in town. Much the same as the other ones, but a quick picture anyway.

We didn’t do much in Galway apart from swimming at the hotel, a walk through town, and an excellent pub lunch…

One of these days Alex is going to turn into a Fish&Chips – but this one really was very good. And Louise likes her mussels (a healthier option!).

Charging at the hotel the second night was through one of the emergency exits. We’ve found almost all of the hotels very willing to let us charge – thanks !

 

 

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On the way to Galway…

Adventurous day to say the least!

Since we’d done a lot of driving before setting of for Galway (surf & horse-riding lessons), we left rather “tight” on charge to get to the first planned stop. But with a little nail-biting, and in a very quiet car (no-one dared to speak), we got to the charging point at the Tesco store in Swinford, with 1 bar of charge remaining. First surprise; once again there are no markings on the parking places in front of the charger, and the car park was full due to a local fair. (ESB: please mark the parking spaces !!!) With the help of one of the staff of the fair (Matt), we eventually managed to get hooked up, and we got free entry tickets to the fair as a bonus ๐Ÿ™‚

However, when we came back to the check the charge of the car a few hours later, an unusual pattern was flashing on the car’s charge indicator (only right hand blue indicator), an orange warning light had come on inside, and it had only charged to 2 bars (good for an very optimistic 33km of estimated range). The charging point indicated that the car would not take any charge. We tried the second outlet on the charging point, but same thing happened after only 10 minutes of charging.

Our contact at ESB told us there was a charging point in Ballina (?), which was 29km away. Would have been a scary ride… (and in the wrong direction) An engineer set out from Dublin (3hrs away) to check & repair the chargepoint… But that would mean we couldn’t depart from Swinford to Galway until well after mid-night, so I went looking for alternative charging places.

Tesco refused to lend us a socket for insurance reasons. However, Matt (the person who previously helped us – possibly the kindest man in Ireland ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) had informed us of another LEAF owner in the town (yes – they do exist !). We were very gratefull when this other LEAF owner let us plug in to his home charger!!! (another ESB charger – just like the one at the hotel). Two LEAFs on the picture this time, and a rather worn out me ๐Ÿ˜‰ !

After some true Irish hospitality at Matt’s house, with tea & biscuits, he took us back to the Tesco car park, where the engineer had arrived by now. Our car had a healthy 8 bars of charge by then. Nothing wrong with the charger though… and indeed when we plugged in this time, the car charged normally for at least the extra hour we needed to get on our way to Galway. What went wrong with the charger (or car) during the day ? No idea :-(. Edit:ย We took the car into the Nissan dealer in Limerick a couple of days later, but no errors had been logged in the car. It really seems to have been the charging point…ย 

We arrived at the hotel in Galway just after midnight, and we did actually enjoy the day in Swinford, and the people we met !

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