After failing spectacularly to find first gear, I set off after Howard's bike for the long journey back to the Loire.
My experience was made slightly better by my purchase at Leclerc Auto of an aux cable, by means of which I could listen to my iPod rather than French radio.
On the whole, things went well. I stalled on a roundabout, my worst fear, and everyone was very cool about it, flowing around me on both sides until I could get going again. Where possible we planned roundabouts and junctions so I wouldn't have to come to a complete stop, and this mostly worked.
Then I stalled again, on the entrance to another roundabout, and this time people weren't kind. They shouted and hooted. I tried again and again to get the car moving and each time it shuddered and died. It was so unfair: there I was remaining calm and collected, not rushing, not panicking, doing everything right, yet the little fucker still wouldn't start.
I finally limped my way round and off, but Howard was nowhere to be seen. When we found each other half an anxious hour later, it turned out he'd mistaken another silver Twingo for mine and not realised there was anything amiss until it turned off.
At last I pulled safely up on to the forecourt of the petrol station/Hertz bureau in Les Trois Moutiers, put on the handbrake and switched the ignition off for the last time.
I travelled the last couple of miles back to Holiday Loire on Howard's pillion, dangling my holdall from one hand in a most unsafe manner.
Our hosts had gone out for the evening but left the makings of a feast plus very clear instructions about when to turn the oven on and what to put in it. We set about cooking and eating, glad, in our exhausted state, that we didn't have to make conversation with anyone apart from each other.