'We leapt in the car and started to roll. However, we stopped very quickly, because my wife suddenly made the observation that there were things in the car that were not ours. Yes, we had moved someone else's Fiat 127.'
The Neales had to leave the car where it was. 'We walked back to the restaurant to see our white Fiat 127 proudly standing there. Imagine my embarrassment in going back into the restaurant and asking if anyone had a white Fiat . . . .'
Carol Martys of Newport and her husband had a long and late dinner at La Rochelle. 'My husband has walking difficulties, following a severe illness; I left him walking laboriously towards the nearest car access point while I fetched the car. When I eventually reached the deserted street in which it was parked, a young man approached me, put his hand on my bum and murmured something suggestive in my ear. I intended to rebuke him with a severe 'Va t'en' ('Go away]') but, due to a good intake of excellent vin du pays, what I came out with was 'On y va]' ('Let's go]').
'Momentarily taken aback, he paused long enough for me to unlock the door, get in and start up, before he asked eagerly in French if I was alone. 'Non, non,' I yelled, adding that my husband was waiting for me. I sped off, only to find in my confusion that I had lost my way in the intricate one-way system and that I was now on the autoroute for Bordeaux with no visible turn-off]
'Eventually, by winding through an industrial estate, I managed to get back to La Rochelle and found my poor husband sitting by the road on a chair lent by a sympathetic waiter. It was 2.30am, two hours after I had left him.'
Mr Martys, at least, deserves the book prize. Tell us your stories of hilarious or disastrous travel experiences - the best will be published each week and will win one of the publisher John Murray's excellent Literary Companions (the series covers Paris, Venice, India, Egypt, Florence and London). Alternatively, you can select The Independent Good Holiday Guide or my new Family France guide. Your tale should be brief - not more than 200 words - and can be about anything to do with travel. Please write to Frank Barrett ('Wish you weren't here . . . ?'), the Independent, 40 City Road, London EC1Y 2DB, and say which book you would like if you are a winner.Reuse content