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Vins Clairs at Langlois-Chateau, 2010

Vins Clairs at Langlois-Chateau, 2010

As the taxi lurched around yet another rond-point I wiped away a little condensation from the inner surface of the window to my right and stared through my little porthole. I know the roads quite well around Saumur, and fairly well around Angers, but right now I had no idea where I was. I knew we were currently en route from the first of these two towns to the second, but in the dark of the night, and with the late hour weighing heavy on my eyes, I had switched off and thus lost track of our position. Visible through my little grey-framed circle was an inky darkness, punctuated with the occasional light in the distance, in each case the orange hue reflected in the lightly rippled waters of the Loire beneath. So we were travelling along the left bank, heading west. But beyond that I was lost.

My two back-seat travelling companions were, however, most certainly not lost, and upon realising that the taxi driver whisking us back to our hotel was taking a rather circuitous route so that he could drop off his friend in the front seat before us – and charge a higher fare in the process of course – they began to object loudly. It was not long before a fairly heated spat developed; I suspect the driver had not expected two of these three weary Brits to be firstly, fluent in French arguing, and secondly, ready to put up a fight. Unfortunately the proffered resistance did not have a positive effect; and as the squabble ensued the driving style deteriorated, degenerating into a sequence of sharp cornering, hard acceleration and even harder braking. The British contingent saw sense and declared a self-imposed cessation of hostilities; a stony silence ensued, punctuated only by the occasional subdued muttering of expletives.

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