Our last day in the mas for 2014 dawned sunny and glorious.
David dropped me at the clinic in Salon and went home to finish packing. I gave the box of Joel Durand chocolates to Otilia, the head nurse, and thanked her and the staff for their wonderful care during our visit.
David helped Anne and Jay with their last-minute departure chores, then they were off to the Avignon TGV station to turn in their car and head to Paris. We would see them their later.
Around 1130, David showed up and headed to the hospital with Otilia to pay my lab charges. Last year, after more than 2 hours dealing with the billing department, we left with the bill still unresolved, so were hoping that this year would be different. David and Otilia sailed through the lab office where they were given an itemized bill, and headed down to the cashier. Unfortunately, the same scenario began to evolve. Pointing at computer screens, head shaking, the works.What was wrong with the bill, Otilia asked to know? No answer, just more head shaking and pointing. Otilia pressed the matter, and finally the supervisor said that the lab’s math was wrong and the bill was 2.50 Euro lower than what the lab had calculated. David paid it and made a beeline for the clinic. We both thanked Otilia, confirmed we’d be back in May 2015. and headed down the road. Otilia and her staff really are terrific, and we owe them a lot of thanks for making it possible for us to return to Provence each year.
We stopped briefly at Mas de la Rose in Orgon to say goodbye to Franck, who we had missed when we had lunch here on Saturday. I gave him the CDs I had brought for him, and chatted a bit, declining his invitation to have a quick lunch there – too much to do. Franck said he would be in Florida in January and said he would call while there so we could get together. We confirmed all our contact information and told him to be sure to call. Alex and Christina from l’Aubergine will also be in Florida in January, and also want to drop by, so it should be an interesting month.
Then it was down the road to the mas, a few last-minute packing chores, a warm farewell from Patrick – who told us how much he enjoyed having us in the mas and how much he looked forward to our visits – and it was off to the TGV station in Avignon.
All went smoothly with the car return and train, and in short order we were in the car in Paris on our way to le Lavoisier, which has been our home in Paris for well over a decade. We checked into chamber 62, a glorious and spacious suite, and cleaned up a bit before heading down to the end of the block for our dinner at Crom ‘Exquis with Anne and Jay and Marc & Catherine Refabert, friends from Tours. We were greeted warmly at the restaurant, with one of the staff recognizing us and welcoming us back. Marc and Catherine had already ordered some wine, so we joined them with toasts and laughter and began my birthday dinner.
The wines were great, the Crom ‘Exquis appetizer as superb as we remembered, and the food exquisite. David spotted Marc Meneau, father of the chef/owner here and chef/owner at the legendary Michelin three-star l’Esperance in Vezelay. One of the waiters explained that he often came in to see how his son, Pierre, was doing. David said that the son was doing just fine, and soon would have his own Michelin stars. Crom ‘Exquis and Pierre Meneau are quickly gaining reputations for superb dining. and will – no doubt – soon be on the list of Paris’ best. For now, they are still relatively unknown – meaning tables are possible and prices affordable.
Dinner was a riot of good food, laughter, and enjoyment. Marc and Catherine are dear friends and incredible characters. Anne and Jay joined in the fun and enjoyed every morsel of food. A small dessert with candles arrived to mark my birthday, along with several other superb desserts to be shared by the table. Finally, after one of the best meals of our trip, we wobbled to the door to head the 50 metres to our hotel. David lingered a bit, talking to Pierre Meneau and Marc. It turns out that Pierre enjoys Florida and golf, and visits often. His preference is Naples on the west coast, and David correctly surmised that his residence of choice was the Ritz Carlton there, which has a superb golf course. David gave Pierre our email address, and said to get in touch when next in Florida. Who knows, we may have a house full of Frenchmen come January.
After a long day, and a marvelous birthday dinner, it was to bed and some well needed rest.