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    You are in: Home / Community Forums / French, Creole and Cajun Cuisine / Back from France
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    Back from France

    Sat Oct 23, 2010 7:57 am Groupie
    We're ba-a-a-ack. And I'm finally sleeping past 4 a.m.!

    To start things off, I was sick for the first few days we were in France. We were supposed to leave on Monday, September 27th, but that Friday night I ended up in the ER with severe pains in my chest and right arm. Turned out I had pneumonia but without the congestion and coughing, so the ER doctor gave me a prescription for Zithromax. She didn't know if it was viral or bacterial but she figured she'd cover her bets. By the next day I felt much better and by Sunday night the fever was gone, so we thought it was safe to go. But with all the stress of the flight and the lack of sleep, by the time we got to France I was feeling horrible - disoriented, feverish, and with some pain in my chest again. I didn't do a very good job of helping Tony navigate to our friends Ellie and John's in the Dordogne. These are people whose extra house, in Ste. Colombe s/l'Hers, we borrowed on our first trip to France and whom we visited in nearby Espéraza on our second trip, but this spring they moved to Nojals-et-Clottes near Bergerac and we had never been to that area.

    When we got to their house I asked Ellie if they could help me find a doctor, and luckily I was able to get in to see their GP that evening. He ordered more x-rays and some blood work, and put me on a different antibiotic, mostly prophylactically to prevent secondary infections since my immune system was obviously being challenged.

    But here's the interesting part: his visit cost 22 €, the blood work was 38 €, the antibiotic was 26 € (it was something I'd never heard of), and the x-rays were 25 €. The various medical facilities kept asking me for my card, through which it would all have been free, but I kept explaining that I was an américaine, so they charged me those fees. Results of the blood work were available from the lab at five that day, and at the x-ray facility they handed me my x-ray film with a brief written interpretation before I left. There was possibly a ten-minute wait after they took the x-rays. Can you tell that I was impressed? I am always blown away by French medical care and how inexpensive it is. I do wonder whether our doctor in the U.S. would have ordered all those tests; I suspect not. But I haven't had a chance to talk to her since our return.

    Anyway, the x-ray was clear but the antibiotic upset my stomach and made me feel nauseated. I did start feeling progressively better once I finished it but the first week there was rather dicey.

    Our friends were just wonderful; they helped me make the appointments and took us to all the labs and to the doctors in various towns so we could figure out what was going on. I have no idea how we would have managed without them. Because of all the medical stuff, though, we missed out on some of the things we wanted to do, but we did get to Bergerac and Sarlat and to Lascaux II to see the cave paintings. We had planned to go to the Bassin d'Archachon on the Atlantic Coast but there just wasn't a block of time when I either didn't have a medical test or felt well enough to do that. And then, to top it all off, Ellie had made reservations for lunch at a chateau in Monbazillac to celebrate our birthdays (hers is a day after mine), but that morning our car started making awful noises around the wheel well, and their car was too small for the four of us, so we had to cancel our lunch. When the mechanic sent by the rental company arrived as promised at three, it turned out that the problem was caused by a tiny pebble that had jammed itself between the rotor and the stationary plate behind it where the brake pads were attached. It took him one minute to pull it out. He said he had figured that was what was going on because the car's mileage was too low for it to be anything more serious. Apparently it's a fairly common problem. So Ellie cooked sausage and pasta for lunch instead, and the next day we went out to a lovely bistro in Monpazier.

    We left the Dordogne on the 5th and went to the Aude, to Chalabre, in the area where we've stayed the previous two times, and finally got to meet Our Possum Girl and spouse. What delightful people, and what fun to put a face to the name, and also play with their adorable dogs. We were really missing ours! Ellie and John also knew PG & Spouse before they moved to the Dordogne. PG had found us a gîte about a minute's walk from their house, so we got to spend lots of time with them and get to know them. PG also cooked a wonderful pork dish with fig and violet preserves, on our first day there; she is a terrific chef! When I got home I made it (although I had to substitute a couple of ingredients) and the kids loved it too.

    From our base in Chalabre we visited Mirepoix and Limoux and went back to Carcassonne. We also went out for a lovely lunch with them at Montségur. We wanted to go back to Collioure, on the Mediterranean, but the one day we were free it was raining there, so we didn't get to see either coast this trip. By that time I was feeling almost back to normal so we had a great time. And I took 540 photos, a few of which may hopefully become paintings.

    Our return home didn't quite go as planned. The flight from Toulouse Wednesday morning was delayed for over an hour because of the demonstrations over Sarkozy's retirement change proposals, so we missed our connection to Philadelphia at Charles de Gaulle. Air France put us up in a hotel near the airport complex, and comped us for dinner and breakfast, but it was too far from Paris for us to do anything, so we just collapsed in our room. Also, we had a devil of a time getting out of the airport after we found we'd missed our flight; someone had left some luggage unattended and the whole place was on lock-down with national police and gendarmes crawling all over and announcements over the loudspeakers. Getting to the hotel wasn't as easy as the customer support agent had suggested, either. But the next day we were able to get a navette from the hotel right to Terminal 2E and it was smooth sailing after that. You can be sure we got to the airport very very early; we were taking no chances this time. At least we got home, though. I hear that they are now cutting flights drastically in France due to strikes which have affected fuel supplies!

    I'm really glad we got to go but it would have been nice if we had had fewer problems. I don't know if I'm ever going to get Tony on a plane again!!

    Sun Oct 24, 2010 1:45 pm Groupie
    Oh Rattie how sad for you, absolutely the pits to feel ill on holiday. Glad you managed to enjoy yourself despite the problems and that you got to meet up with PG and her DH
    Sun Oct 24, 2010 2:18 pm Groupie
    Well, it would have been a lot nicer had I felt good the whole time, but at least we did get to go!

    I only did one little watercolor sketch the whole time, though, and never got to use your lovely sketchbook. I did bring it, so it's been back and forth and at least got to see France even if I didn't memorialize anything in it! I will have to bite the bullet and use it for more mundane sketches, since it's too nice to leave in a bag.

    Mon Nov 22, 2010 9:16 am
    Forum Host
    Found it! well what a thing to fall so ill! poor you, but it looks like it all ended o.k. your time there sounds wonderful! thanks for sharing.
    French Tart
    Mon Nov 22, 2010 11:18 am
    Forum Host
    Great diary Rattie................for a weekend of your stay we were VERY close to you and Possum!
    Shame about you being ill...............always happens when we are away.
    Enjoyed the travel diary immensely!
    Mon Nov 22, 2010 5:38 pm Groupie
    Tarty, why didn't you contact us? It would have been so neat to see you! And you could have seen two for the price of one!

    French Tart
    Tue Nov 23, 2010 1:48 pm
    Forum Host
    RiverRat wrote:
    Tarty, why didn't you contact us? It would have been so neat to see you! And you could have seen two for the price of one!


    I should have got in touch with Possum, but it was only a weekend and I was not sure what you all had planned! ANOTHER time as we plan to go back many times!
    Tue Nov 23, 2010 1:54 pm Groupie
    Which weekend was it - the weekend of October 9th? We went to Montségur on Saturday, and then Sunday it poured!

    And where exactly were you? We just love the Aude area - more than the Dordogne, but that may be because we know the Aude better.

    I don't know that I'll be able to get Tony back into a plane after the experiences we had, but if I do I'll give you a shout.

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