Hi there. Or bonjour as our little French friends might say. I’ve just come back from a friend’s wedding in Provence which was entirely glorious, but I need to give you a tip about Nice airport, and that tip is: if you are offered a bigger hire car when you get there, say no.
This happened to me last Thursday morning when I landed there. I was a bit dazed. It had been an exceptionally early flight out from Luton. I have been to less exotic zoos than Luton airport last Thursday morning circa 6am. People looking genuinely surprised at being asked to take their laptops out of their bags for security and then taking five hours to do so, lads in straw hats drinking pints, a stag dressed as a giant chicken and so on.
Anyway, we escape Luton, land at Nice and I walk five miles to their car hire centre. The nice lady at Hertz says ‘Would you like a bigger car for no extra charge, madame?’ And obvs I say yes because why wouldn’t you? You want a nice big car with five doors instead of something tiny and tinny with an air conditioning system that feels like an asthmatic wheezing all over you, right? So that’s how I ended up with a Peugeot 308 estate instead of something the size of my shoe. Did I want to pay an extra day rate to get rid of the EU1000 excess? No, merci, I did not.
The Peugeot 308 estate is the sort of car that a mother of three from Wolverhampton might drive, but it bowled very merrily down the motorway and into the hills. Trouble was I’d forgotten that Bargemon, the idyllic Provencal village I was staying in, was built at a time when human beings were the size of minpins. Twisty roads, little cobbled streets and an incredibly haphazard parking ‘system’. So really, the smaller your voiture the better.
Various of us were staying in a farmhouse just above the village, which became the party house for the weekend and meant that the narrow drive was, at any one point, filled with eight or nine cars while their owners frolicked about in the pool. And it was only when I tried to reverse the entire way down said narrow drive for the wedding rehearsal on Friday afternoon that I had a run in with the gate, scraping the entire of the passenger door along it, while everyone else, in their Renault Twingos and Fiat 500s, nipped out no problem.
‘Colour it in with a crayon,’ was one suggestion. But I thought that was poor form. Plus I didn’t have any crayons. ‘Stand in front of it at the airport,’ said the bride. ‘That’s what I always do.’ But I’m a terrible liar and bumbler of things like that, so instead I immediately confessed to the man who took back my car at the airport yesterday and he crouched down and frowned and ummed and aahed and said I’d see the damage on my credit card statement shortly. Exciting.
Still, it’s not as bad as someone else who managed to split the tyre of the Bentley he’d borrowed for the weekend. So that’s something.