Hiring a car with no money or means of identificaton

We could have argued all day about who had locked the keys in the car boot, who had opened the boot only and not the main car doors, who forgot to check the keys weren’t in the boot before it was closed. We could have argued all day but the boot would still be locked and Sunday was running out. Our perfect sunny Sunday was ending in a less than perfect manner.

We had decided to explore an area west of Brest in particular Le Conquet and St Mathieu. I had taken all the photos I wanted, we had walked all the cliffs we wanted and it was time to get back for supper. We stopped by the back of our car (a Passat estate) to enjoy a drink and some fruit before setting off. Putting my hand in my pocket I realised I hadn’t driven out so asked for the keys, there was a moments silence and the glance to the boot told me all I needed to know. Isn’t it funny how you think that standing and looking at the car for ten minutes will resolve the problem?

The facts were, it was a late Sunday afternoon in Brittany out of the holiday season and all our money, mobile phones and documents were locked in the car. We were an hour and a half away from home. Our French at this stage is still poor at best. We walked down to a hotel on the side of the road where the friendly receptionist in the Hostellerie de la Pointe St Mathieu telephoned a local garage to see if they could help. The mechanic was already on a call and would be an hour, which was no problem so we sat down for a drink and waited.

After 45 minutes an elderly gentleman in a small white van turned up and followed us back to the car. He tried everything to try and get us back in, the old wire trick; he even had some little inflatable bags to help prize open the top of the door enough to get the wire in. Alas after half an hour he confirmed one of the reasons why we had chosen a Passat. They are very secure, and he would have to pick it up with a tow truck in the morning. We couldn’t face the thought of leaving our possessions in the car overnight and still having to get back home. We asked about a taxi when the mechanic suggested he could hire us a car for 24 hours for 60 euros, probably about the same price as a taxi and we could come back for the car with the spare keys. We accepted the offer to go back to his garage, for some reason I was made to crouch in the back of the van with the tool box and various car parts.

The kind man asked us to follow him into the office and wait in reception at the Renault garage in Plougonvelin (Garage Lamour). After a couple of minutes he came back with some keys which he placed on the counter. “We have no money or cards they are all in the car”, “no problem” he replied, just get it back tomorrow and pay then. “Our driving license and passports are also in the car”, “no problem” he replied just write your name and address on this piece of paper and sign it at the bottom. He showed us the brand new Renault asked us if we had any questions and bid us a safe journey.

Happily we retrieved our car that evening, we returned the hire car the following day, paid a very reasonable price for it and left with a renewed belief in human nature and trust.

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