/ Buying meths in France

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Ramblin dave 12 Aug 2019

Hi!

We're heading out to the Pyrenees next weekend, getting the train to arrive in Toulouse late on Saturday with the intention of heading out into the hills on Sunday.

Unfortunately, we've just realised that the Eurostar rules ban any sort of stove fuel, but that anywhere (eg Decathlon) where we might buy UK-style screw-threaded gas cylinders will be closed on Sunday.

One thing we could do is take a Trangia instead and try to buy some meths (alcool a bruler) when we're out there. Research online suggests that it's available from supermarkets - can anyone confirm whether this is the case? And if so, how big a supermarket would we need? Is it probably going to be in the first Carrefour Express we try, or will we need to find somewhere big and get lucky?

Cheers

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Ushba 12 Aug 2019
In reply to Ramblin dave:

There are a few big supermarkets which are open until 12 on sunday in Toulouse. If you have a car I would suggest hitting up the Carrefour in Labège, or the Leclerc in Portet sur Garonne. Don't know for certain if these supermarkets stock it but have bought multiple times from much smaller Carrefours so would guess so. 

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Donny M 13 Aug 2019
In reply to Ramblin dave:

I just went to south Devon and couldn’t find stove fuel anywhere in Newton Abbot so used petrol in my MSR, worked fine. Little smokey priming but that was only for a few seconds. Filled up a little petrol can that I keep in the boot with £3 worth and used about 2% of it.  

Post edited at 00:21
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Ramblin dave 13 Aug 2019
In reply to Donny M:

Thanks - we've got the choice of a pocket rocket or a Trangia, neither of which will run on petrol, but we might be able to borrow an MSR multifuel. Otherwise supermarket meths sounds like it might be an option...

Cheers folks!

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baldie 13 Aug 2019
In reply to Ramblin dave:

On our multi day walks we just forgot about all the modern stoves and took an old Bleuet S200 Camping gaz stove .You can get cylinders anywhere.

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DaveHK 13 Aug 2019
In reply to Ramblin dave:

Some French Decathlons are open on Sundays so worth checking out the specifics of any in the area.

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Ramblin dave 13 Aug 2019
In reply to DaveHK:

Hard nope on that one, unfortunately.

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brianjcooper 13 Aug 2019
In reply to Ramblin dave:

I'd try and borrow the MSR multi-fuel. We took ours to the Picos de Europa and were able to buy Colman's white petrol, Paraffin and white spirit (brush cleaner) and they all worked well. Just remember to change the burner 'nozzle' for the correct fuel.

Have fun.

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richlan 13 Aug 2019
In reply to Ramblin dave:

Do they x-ray or bag check on Eurostar, never been on it ? You could perhaps pack small cylinder inside some clothing ? *

Or do any of the refuges stock gas if you area passing one, again, never been don't know, just a thought.

* I'm not suggesting for a moment you do this, maybe.

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PaulJepson 13 Aug 2019
In reply to Ramblin dave:

You could try look into whether petrol stations have any fuel line antifreeze that might work? In the US I used yellow HEET which worked as well as meths and was a lot more readily available. It may be available in some petrol stations in Europe or there may be an alternative. 

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Ramblin dave 13 Aug 2019
In reply to brianjcooper:

> I'd try and borrow the MSR multi-fuel. We took ours to the Picos de Europa and were able to buy Colman's white petrol, Paraffin and white spirit (brush cleaner) and they all worked well. Just remember to change the burner 'nozzle' for the correct fuel.

Yeah, I'm thinking this might be a good plan. Or rather, we've realised that we might get in early enough on Saturday to make it to Decathlon before it shuts, so we'll take our pocket rocket as plan A, but hopefully with a borrowed multifuel stove to use with white petrol / regular petrol / whatever as a backup, to leave in left luggage if we don't need it.

Although I have to admit I'm surprised that in techno-Dickensian 2019 there isn't some sort of Uber-like service where we can pay a random French street urchin a commission to buy a couple of canisters in advance and drop them off at the hotel.

Can petrol stations normally deal with someone buying about a litre of fuel from the pump? We've never had to deal with this before.

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Pedro50 13 Aug 2019
In reply to Ramblin dave:

Having just read the Shuttle regulations, it is not at all clear to me that gas cylinders are prohibited. It does state in another paragraph that they must be declared and disconnected.

Someone I know took a camping gaz 907 cylinder last year without it even occurring to them that it might be banned. 

Happy to be corrected. 

Post edited at 13:23
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Ramblin dave 13 Aug 2019
In reply to Pedro50:

It's Eurostar rather than the Shuttle:
https://www.eurostar.com/uk-en/travel-info/travel-planning/luggage/sports-and-camping-equipment

I'd imagine that the Shuttle would have to be a bit more lax on flammable substances given that pretty much everyone on there is going to have a big tank of petrol at the very least...

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Pedro50 13 Aug 2019
In reply to Ramblin dave:

Fair enough, although a bit weird since the tunnel is clearly the most hazardous bit of the Eurostar journey.

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Ramblin dave 13 Aug 2019
In reply to Pedro50:

Yeah, go figure. They do X-ray your bags though, so I'm not keen to rely on being able to sneak anything past them...

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beardy mike 13 Aug 2019
In reply to Ramblin dave:

You can get screw thread to bluet convertors... get on ebay and it may get to you by then...

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Rick Graham 13 Aug 2019
In reply to Ramblin dave:

A few hassles from previous trips .

Be carefull you don't get your msr or fuel bottle confiscated if it smells of fuel .

Ironmongers  often have a lot of types of gas canisters . Often easier to buy a cheap local stove and get cartridges for that.

If you go somewhere regularly, hide some cannisters and camping chairs , and remember where you stashed them .

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Doug 13 Aug 2019
In reply to Ramblin dave:

How much time do you have in Paris (assumming you arrive at Gare du Nord & leave at Montparnasse) ? A few  Decathlons in the city centre & I'm fairly sure Vieux Campeur stock the canisters you want

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Ffat Boi 13 Aug 2019
In reply to Ramblin dave:

Have you got accommodation?  I would order it on Amazon.fr and get it delivered to there?

Or I would check out the local campings see if they sell gas or meths

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john arran 13 Aug 2019
In reply to Ramblin dave:

Alcool à brûler is certainly easy to find in hardware shops, and I'm fairly sure will be on the shelves of most decent-sized supermarkets too but it's not something I'm used to looking for so I can't be 100% certain. Plenty of supermarkets - virtually all of them nowadays - open on Sunday mornings so shouldn't be hard to find I think. I'd look for a bigger one to increase your chances of them stocking it, and be aware that most shops will shut around 12 or 12:30.

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Enty 14 Aug 2019
In reply to Ramblin dave:

You can definitely buy it in Intermarché and Super U near us and they are open Sunday mornings. Must be the same in the Pyrenees.

E

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Rog Wilko 14 Aug 2019
In reply to Ramblin dave:

Alcool a bruler is quite bit more potent than British meths. Used it a lot of years back in Trangia, and christened it rocket fuel. Not an expert on such things but I think meths here is 70% proof and A a B is 90%. As others have said, no problem getting it in French supermarkets. It's usually found in the barbecue section. To this day I bring a bottle home from French holidays as meths here seems to be increasingly expensive, difficult to find and only in tiny bottles, all in contrast to France. Useful for all sorts of things.

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John2 14 Aug 2019
In reply to Rog Wilko:

Many years ago I went for a few beers on a Friday lunchtime with the people from work. On the way back, dressed in the tattered anorak which I used for climbing at the time and smelling of beer, I popped into Boots to get some meths for my Trangia. The assistant gave me a pitying look and said, 'I'm sorry - we don't sell meths'.

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minus273degrees 15 Aug 2019
In reply to Ramblin dave:

I’ve had this problem a few times. In high camping areas you should be ok (Chamonix could get every type of fuel). Not so sure on gas otherwise. If your taking trangia you could go to a tabac and get lighter fuel this burns a bit hotter than meths. Maybe put it on a dish in the trangia. (Upside coke can base works) If you just want a hot meal before the Monday and can go to the shop then how about self heating ration packs.

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J Whittaker 15 Aug 2019
In reply to Ramblin dave:

I thought this was a thread about crystal. 

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James Oakes 16 Aug 2019
In reply to Ramblin dave:

Youll find alcool a bruler in the cleaning products section of many super markets. Make sure you get the high percentage one as the low percentage stuff burns very smoky.

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doz 17 Aug 2019
In reply to Ramblin dave:

Stick to the cheap wine

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Ramblin dave 17 Aug 2019
In reply to Ramblin dave:

PLOT TWIST: we actually made it to Toulouse before Decathlon shut and picked up some regular screw-fitted gas canisters. Job done!

Having everyone's advice on what to do if we didn't make it was very reassuring when we were hoofing it across Paris for a tight TGV connection, though, so thanks! 

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