10 Nov 2009

The French Doctor

The fact that my French doctor is charming does not bias me in any way; I must disclose this before I start. I find him cute I will admit but I have never made an emergency visit without a reason and I have certainly never demanded a house call without just cause. I promise. 

The French doctor is a novelty to me. What I mean by this is that his style of doctoring and his way of treating are very different in comparison to others that I have encountered in his profession. Mine is always patient, he is always kind, he is almost never in a hurry, he is well informed and he refers well… he is the perfect medico. 

His rooms at number 12, in the centre of the village, are behind a pair of large carved wooden doors. Unpainted shutters shield his waiting room from the narrow street and passing traffic. Brass name plates are the only hint that a professional is in residence otherwise this house would be no different from any other in the street. A solid brass knocker on the outside of the door is the way to announce an arrival. One knock and straight to the waiting room on the left. Two knocks, by prior arrangement and I am whisked off to the right – straight inside the surgery to tell French doctor of my current emergency. I just love this system. What happens when two people arrive and knock twice at the same time? I am not sure, but so far I have followed the rules and turned left or right at the appropriate times without problem. 

The French doctor listens and is interested to know all my news. He never seems pressed for time, although I am sure he is. He has that wonderful knack of making me feel like the only patient on his list. He wants to know where I have been and what I have been doing. He is interested in my life and where it takes me and his idea of a diagnosis is an understanding of all the major elements in my world. It is not until French doctor has covered all these bases and suggested ever so gently that life is about un equilibre and that I have responded in kind to ask of his wife and children that we will we get down to business. A rendezvous with the French doctor is a tonic; his caring and concerned bedside manner is as good as any therapy and his treatments have done the trick every time. 

The French doctor is a star when it comes to the house call. I am really a city girl living the country life so these quaint old fashioned habits appeal to my cynical ‘expect-no-such-thing-as-a-home-visit’ mindset. A house call when needed is the norm here and the visit is always a pleasure not a pain for my French doctor. Again time is never of the essence and apart from his wise council and good humour he arrives with his personal dispensary so that minor aches, pains, cuts, bruises, coughs and colds can be dealt with there and then. No mad dash to the pharmacy for prescriptions, ointments or bandages at an uncivilised hour; les medicines are all in his trusty holdall. I am always impressed and surprised by this, although the French would expect nothing less; they are rather partial to a potion.

The French doctor is a rare gem… xv

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Well Vicki,
French doctors beat English doctors, hands down.
Your wonderful French doctor reminds me of the one we had when I was young. He lived in a large detatched house. One didn't need an appointment…you just turned up and waited in the waiting room and went in , in the order that you arrived. I can remember, clearly that on one visit, when it was my turn, I entered his consulting room and there he was, eating sardines on toast !! When the consultation was over, he would escort me out, through his Victorian conservatory, telling me about his plants as we walked through and waved me off the premises. Meanwhile, he had a waiting room full of patients ! I also remember when we had chilhood illnesses, like measles and mumps, he would do a house call and once he came out in a snow blizzard with chains on the wheels of his old citreon car.
Nowadays it's all we can do to get an appointment. I'm so pleased that the art of a good bedside manner has not been lost in France.
Thanks so much for your lovely comment this morning…. it means a lot to me.


Calming is the impression I'm getting.
And he's cute as well ?!
Mine has a similar manner (he's not cute) but sadly home visits are a thing of the past.


omg, sounds like a paragraph from a vintage french novel, the bedside mannerism is gone for the most part here. Love, love the doors. Thanks for sharing. Sandi


How refreshing this post is!! I hold my Dentist in this same catagory….He is a very attractive man…beautiful eyes…but does one go to the Dentist without real necessity? Not this girl! Ha! Have a delightfil day..xoxo~Kathy @ Sweet Up-North Mornings…


Dear Vicki – Forget the two lipsticks and the lover – I'm hanging out for a French doctor! Have a happy week – love Susie x


Oh, Vicki…I just love your posts. I was an exchange student in LeMans and I just love France..can hardly wait to take our children in the next few years. Love your book too and can hardly wait for the next one.

Vicki Lane

Sounds like absolute perfection! I have a doctor who is also (seemingly) unhurried and all those other things — but house calls? As if.

My Notting Hill

Wow, that is really amazing. Your Dr sounds wonderful. I have a very good Dr as well, but I have to drive 4 miles, park in a overcrowded parking garage and walk through the hospital to get to the Dr's office. Would love to be able to knock once or twice on such a beautiful door!


My temperature could be rising except that I've had an almost exact replica of your Doctor for over three decades. Gorgeous post ;)


Oh Vicki … you do make me laugh!
What an absolutely civilized way to see a doctor … or be seen by one!
I know in the US, UK and Australia, you'll be lucky if you can get 5 minutes of their time (I always stretch it to 20min at least… and thats because I dont stop asking questions)
I always feel like I have to speak 100 miles an hour to explain everything … and then if we do have a little chat … I always feel like I shouldn't be doing it, as I'm taking up their precious time!

Long live the french doctor tradition!


I was just talking with someone about how my doctor never seems to listen and is always rushing out the door, lol… you're lucky to have such a great one!


Dear Vicki – thank you so much for your encouragement….I was introduced to this wonderful on line world via your blog and your gorgeous book – I am SO thrilled you came by and visited! Love Susie x

la la Lovely

I would like a French Dr., please. I love the idea of house calls. It is so hard to find a good dr. these days. I have been fortunate to find both a Pediatrician and OB that are quite accessible and return calls themselves. That in itself is quite a rarity over here. I'm a bit anxious this week as my dr. is out of town for the week. So I'm just praying baby stays put until at least next Thursday!
x Trina

little augury

Isn't that a great comfort-to know the real healers are still out there. I am so fortunate to have a doctor just like this-Imagine in the States! House calls even. Charming post. la

red ticking

so nice to know… fortunately, i have a wonderful doctor here in seattle. they are so rare to find…
have a lovely week… wish you could be here for my celebration on thursday…. x pam

Chemin des Muguets

Hello Vicki,

We experienced much the same when we were living in Switzerland and Belgium. Australian doctors were lovely and casual. Here we are in Carmel doctor-less, and I dread the process of finding the right one. Perhaps I should see if there are any French docors in the neighborhood!



I wish American doctors would step up to the plate (oops, did I just say that???). Thanks for sharing the wonderful ways of French doctors Vicki.


Vicki, I believe that you are describing a healer. Your French doctor seems to navigate between traditional medicine and the age-old and effective role of healer who knows that listening is the key to solving many of life's disruptions. I think that you are truly blessed. Hope that you stay well.


One would not mind getting sick if one had a French Doctor attending, n'est-ce pas? : )


My doctor is Burmese, her first name is Beauty. I like her even though she is no French doctor.

The Brocantess

I love that there is still a caring system somewhere in the world. I have an amazing Dr in my small village north of NYC but that was not the case when I lived in CA. However, a house call would never even be an option these days. So glad that you have found this existence in France.


Wow..you make even going to the doctor sound wonderful! It's great to see that some doctors still have awesome bedside manners.

Pamela Terry and Edward

What a fortunate patient you are! I adore my American doctor, indeed the visit you describe is eerily similar to my own. But my soul, the building he resides in is the epitome of cold…no grand wooden door in sight…and house calls are unheard of, of course. However, he has known me for years and we have marvelous conversations about books and politics and art before my temperature is ever taken!

But please, don't get me started on the topic of American health care. It is unavailable to so many, and those of us lucky ones who have health insurance pay astronomical amounts for the privilege. Especially those of us who are self-employed. Our wise President is attempting to right this ship and I pray that he can.


I hope it isn't anything too serious that has got you to visit your french doctor lately, Vicky.
For my part, i had to choose my medecin traitant or family doctor quite haphasardly since I knew no one in the town I moved to a year agO and had extremely good luck to choose a doctor who is not only even more concerned by my life and way of life than the doctors in general but who also uses plants and homeopathy. I was afraid of missing my ex doctor whom I had known for 25 years but in the end I am very happy to have the doctor I have today. It is true that most of the french medics have a very nice way with their patents, at least the generalists.


ohlala, I would definitely feel some small aches and pains perhaps creeping on…what a lovely and fun description of medicine in a small village in France…and no wonder my French doctor keeps talking wistfully about how "they do it in France"!

lovely…wishing I could knock once or twice and end up exactly where I need to be!!!


Too delicious. I've been to a French doctor or two in my time (not as cute as yours sounds), but the care was always excellent – and they asked questions to get a full picture of what was going on. Indeed, the appointments did not feel so rushed, nor did I as a patient feel like an insurance ID on a piece of paper, with neither a brain nor an emotion about sitting in that office.

As for those doors – pretty spectacular. Gotta love a country with beautiful doors. (Et chaussures.)


Wonderfully told story, Vicki.

I am a newbie to your world. My daughter said I would love it – and she is correct.

That little line of crumbs will be me looking around over the next little while.


wow! i too am very impressed, how i wish i could find a medico like yours vicki! it all sounds so civilised to me. Hx


I loved reading about your little French doctor and if that is the norm in France. We hear in America do it so much different, no such thing as a HOUSE call!!!!! Unless you fall and need emergency treatment then you call 911 and the fire department shows up with a paramedic!!!!
Thanks for sharing

Josephine Tale Peddler

No greater contrast could there be between the charming French doctor behind his wooden door and my own doctor who is busy rushing everyone through in fifteen minute slots! If I had a doctor as lovely sounding as yours, I might be tempted to be ill more often. xx

High Desert Diva


I cannot imagine this…a doctor being…a doctor.

My doctors visits usually consist of waiting….in the waiting room for an hour past my scheduled appointment time, then at least 15 minutes in the exam room waiting for the doctor….and then….at last…the doctor arrives and hurries through the exam in 10 min.

And we wonder about health care being so messed up in America.

Paris Atelier

Hello Vicki,
Even the Doctors in France are romantic! What a wonderful bit of insight into a visit so different than what we experice in the US. Beautiful post and as always beautiful words.

The Pink Poodle

Hi vicki..

wish I had have had your doctor when Christian was soo sick with food poisoining the other week..

Although… i should say his doctor was a fab Chinese/aussie doc…
no complaints..

BUT yours sounds extra kind of special…
so would be great to transport him to the land of OZ!!

xx andrea


A rare gem indeed. I certainly need to steal him away. I adore his system of knock once for … and twice for … Hmm maybe he is on to something.
Have a lovely rest of your week.
x Suzi


Lovely post. I remember visiting an eye doctor in Paris — a woman — and marvelling at how her charming office felt like a well-appointed home. She was elegantly dressed and coiffed and was warm and affable — altogether a very positive experience.


Oh I'm thinking on my next visit to Paris, I might feel faint! :) I loved your post today Vicki! Too bad we can't have a look at the good doctor himself!

Thanks for your nice comments on my blog. I appreciate your visits!


Oh Vicki, My American doctor is quite like your French doctor … and for that I am very grateful.

I've been away from home since October 30 and it feels so nice to catch up on my favorite blogs.

Ingrid Mida

I read somewhere that the best place in the world to get sick is France. Your doctor sounds like a gift from heaven, and perhaps doubly so given that he is cute!


As you can see Vicki, I'm catching up with all your recent fab posts. Have been traveling so am behind somewhat.

French docs are wonderful, I gathered that from my brother and his family. Their village doctor – female – seems very kind and caring. The whole medical system is so different there………as you know there's no such thing as a housecall in the USA. Back in the UK they sometimes make them, but they are usually bad-tempered and in an almightly rush. My late mum's doctor actually 'visited' her through the sitting room window once….said he didn't have time to come in as he wanted to get on the road to his country house before dark!! How pathetic is that?

Love hearing stories of your village life…….you realize we are all envious, lol!! I still would love to move there but sadly I know DH will never do it.

A Gift Wrapped Life

Hello Miss Vicki!
Your post was just what I need today as I lay in bed with shingles (luckily it didn't start until I was over the Atlantic on my way home). I had the best laugh because it is so obvious your doctor is quite smitten with you! And how could he not be!!! Send him over, I need a doctor like that right about now! Will email you longer tomorrow when I am not quite so medicated. XOXO


Fab post Vicki – I can almost hear the late, great Robert Palmer singing 'Doctor, doctor, give me the news I've got a bad case of lovin' you.' I do have particular affection for French Cardiologists. I went to a European Cardiology Society conference on Crete a few years ago & they'd gather around the Trade Display. All with strong coffee in one hand & a ciggie in the other, they wanted to engage me in banter about the latest gossip re certain colleagues in Australia! Bless them & all their death defying habits.
Millie ^_^

Di Overton

I am always shocked when Charlotte, my daughter in Paris, says she feels poorly and will pop round to the doctors. Her in the UK they call an urgent appointment one week hence :)


Several years ago mu husband and I spent 10 days in Paris the 1st part of December. I always seem to get bronchitis when I fly a long distance. I was so very sick,the folks from our apartment rental called for the doctor. He was just charming.Gave me a very strong prescription for my infection and invited us to his jazz appearance at his favorite jazz club,he plays the sac's and sings Elvis.What more can I say,almost made getting horribly sick worth it!


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