I Go to the Doctor (Take 3) & Other Bits

My last visit to the doctor cost me $32.  My visit this morning — nothing.IMG_3566

I called Dr. Marielle Crespo-Mora yesterday afternoon to ask if I should continue to take the antibiotic I started last Wednesday until the pills are gone. My nasal infection is healing, but slowly.

“It should be better by now,” she said (and yes, she came to the phone herself). “You should come in.”

And so this morning I did.  I arrived at 8:59 a.m.  She came to the waiting area to call me into her office at 9:02 a.m., shook hands and  asked me a few questions.

“It’s getting better,” I said. “I wouldn’t even have called if we weren’t leaving Aix-en-Provence on Saturday.”  She pressed her fingers against my cheeks, my nose and my head. Last time it hurt a bit. This time it was better.

“Take the antibiotic for the last three days,” she said.  She also said I should also take prednisone she had prescribed for two more days.  Then she stood up.

“Should I pay you?”  I asked.

“No, it’s not necessary,” she said.

“You are very kind,” I said.

She smiled.

As a country, France in some ways is struggling.  More than 25 percent of voters cast ballots for the far right National Front party in this week’s European Parliamentary elections.  French workers are angry — about persistently high unemployment, about what they see as the failure of the EU to provide solutions that translate to jobs, about what they consider weak and distant leadership in what have been the two dominant political parties, and about open immigration policies across the EU’s borders. As I wrote last weekend, it’s an unsettling scenario.

But, at least to this casual observer, the French medical system seems without peer. There are no frills, nothing fancy. But it’s affordable and open to all.  Today, on my follow-up visit, it was free.  Perhaps it’s time for U.S. general practitioners to discard their white coats and their big office staffs?  Doctors like Marielle Crespo-Mora provide a good model.


We invited over our delightful and ever-friendly landlady, Martine, for a final aperitif last night.  She came with her cousin, Jean-Paul, who is visiting from Miami.  Both brought us gifts — Martine two lovely Provencal place mats, he two books he’d written about his family’s history and a bottle of white wine.

Tonight we’ll meet our language teacher, Marine, for a Happy Hour drink at — appropriately — the Happy Days bar in Place Richelme.  She wrote to ask if we could meet once more before we left.

These have, indeed, been happy days for us.  Our language skills remain somewhat limited. But they’re a lot better than seven years ago. And as our ability to converse has improved, a wider window has opened into the generous, warm and engaging personalities of the people of Provence.

We’ve long loved this region, its climate, its light, its pace, its architecture and its history. In the last five months, we’ve learned that we truly appreciate its people, too. It’s made this stay that much richer than others.

2 Replies to “I Go to the Doctor (Take 3) & Other Bits

  1. Jerry,

    You are going to the area of France we are most familiar with having lived in the French countryside across the border from Geneva for almost 5 years. DO visit Geneva! I say it’s like visiting one arrondissment of Paris and the addition of the Lac is gorgeous. I made every one of our 74 guests walk along the Lac, visit the Jardin Anglais, and learn more about Calvin. I never tired of it.

    Annecy is a wonderful city in all weather. Strolling the lakeside, going in and out of the narrow pedestrian only streets, eating crepes (or pizza which is also good in Annecy!) and climbing the hill to the castle were all favorites. We would often just drive down there on a nice night for dinner and a walk and an ice cream. There is a nice “tour” of the lake on a refurbished small wooden boat which is fun on a nice day. The two sides of the lake offer very different perspectives. (I was most recently there with a friend who had cancer and she was sent to the hospital in Annecy. Gave me a chance to see the French medical system up close…….and then we went for lunch along the lake. She recently died but not before she swam one last time in the Lac – even got her hospice nurse to come along to unhook her port. Shows you how magical and special Annecy can be!)

    Beaune you probably know enough about already! You can’t go wrong no matter what you do there! We rented a gite for a week about 15 minutes from Beaune in a converted farmhouse. What a delight. You can take the “back road” – the N5 (which may have a new number) which begins in Ferney-Voltaire (right past the Douane, over the Col de Faucille, through some beautiful countryside and cheese making region of the Jura (lots of interviews here!) and then into Burgundy. This was our preferred route. Although the autoroute is faster, it’s much further so the time saved is minimal if at all. And the scenery is definitely better.

    Mont Blanc, Chamonix, and all the small towns around there are so totally different from the rest of France. If it’s clear it’s worth taking the gondola all the way to the top. We have walked all the way down, but it’s a LONG way! Raclette and fondue are good even when it’s hot!

    I can recommend a wonderful small hotel near Chambery if you find yourself in that area. Chateau des Allues http://www.stageaujardin.com/ It is the favorite of our French friends and we have probably been there 8 times. It has recently been sold, but the story of how it was restored, how it has expanded, and basically howit was saved, might be of particular interest to you. The “patron” who bought it for his companion was the manager of a larger hotel in Chambery and wanted a venue for his extensive antique collection. You can literally buy just about anything in the place.

    I hope I have not been presumptuous to be giving YOU travel ideas, but you have been so generous with your suggestions I thought you might like some “local” recommendations from an area we know so well – and continue to miss. My husband and I have just been talking as I wrote this about “Do you remember that wonderful bakery?” “What about that stop in Morbier?” “Oh, remember that snowy day in Annecy when we had those delicious crepes?” LOTS of wonderful memories for us!

    Bon Voyage et Bonne Chance!

    1. Once again, your note escaped me for awhile. Many thanks for all the suggestions! I’ll look them over carefully with Kathy tonight. Have spent two fabulous days in a really remote area of Ardeche, where we found a couple who rescued the region’s last wool mill forty years ago. Just sold an article on it so I’m hard at work.

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