The following morning I discovered someone had climbed on the bonnet and jumped on the roof causing a serious dent.
I reported it to police and my insurance agent said repairs would be effected and a courtesy car provided. The garage was 40km from home and I drove over and exchanged cars.
Seven days later, I drove to the garage to find no work had been done and a piece of paper was waved at me stating that a company called Automobile Expertises had inspected my car and declared it a write-off.
They said it was unsafe to drive and wanted to impound it. The insurer offered a modest price for the car.
If I had tried to have the car repaired elsewhere, the carte grise would be withdrawn. Frantic calls to my insurance agent meant I was given my car keys on the proviso the carte grise and insurance would be cancelled in days.
A car is essential as I live in the country and hold official positions with two British ex-service charities, so it was a race to find a second-hand car.
Fortune at last shone. I found a replacement, got immediate insurance and the friendly garage allowed me to present an undated cheque until my funds had cleared my bank.
I have lived in France for more than 10 years and this is probably the most stressful challenge I have encountered. So, get independent quotes before going to insurers.
Needless to say, my local body‑shop was closed for annual holidays.
David Young, Vienne