Sarlat-la-Canéda Hospital

After Michele’s detour to the Emergency Department at Sarlat-la-Canéda Hospital, with chest pains on Wednesday, we spent a few extra days in the town we hadn’t planned to visit. After being transferred to the cardiac ward late Wednesday night she was all ready to be discharged on Thursday morning. As luck would have it an anomaly appeared on her ECG just before she was due to be discharged. So instead of continuing on our travels, she made a journey of her own, up the passageway to the constant monitoring section.

I made a trip of my own, down to administration. It seems that they were concerned we’d skip town without paying. Of course the administrator didn’t speak a single word of English, which added to the stress. Luckily I’d learnt enough French to pick up a few words here and there so I got the gist of the conversation. She gave me the contact details of the hospital so that I could start the payment process.

Due to the unexpected turn of events I had to rush back to the Ibis and book another night. Luckily the manager at the Ibis felt a it sorry for me and gave me a discount for the second night. Whilst there I got on the phone to the insurance and started cancelling all our hotel bookings. Most of the hotels of course had a no refund for last minute cancellation policy. It wasn’t clear cut dealing with the insurance. They of course wanted us to do all the leg work and were pressuring us to pay with no guarantee of reimbursement. I decided that from then on everything would be in writing. It would keep it simple and would leave a paperwork trail.
Michele was having a great time at the hospital being treated like a celebrity. When the staff learnt that she was a motorcyclist they were in awe. Unfortunately the kitchen staff didn’t get the message that there was a celebrity in the cardiac ward. Russian train food looked like gourmet meals compared with some of the meals being forced on patients. Luckily there was some fruit on the bike and a chocolate machine in the foyer so that I could supplement her meals. Her hospitalisation wasn’t good for my diet either. After breakfast at the hotel the rest of the day was spent at the hospital where I’d leave late at night. A sandwich from the machine was my only choice.

Day two passed without any sign of her leaving hospital. I just went back to the hotel and crashed. For Michele during the long hours in hospital she spent a lot of time looking out the window. The hills surrounding the hospital were covered in autumn colours. As the light changed during the day so did the trees, from green to golden colours, gave here great perspective on how the same scene can look so different even in a short period of time and that slowing down in life can still be everchanging.
By Friday I’d come to the conclusion that it was not economical to stay at the Ibis another night. It was a nice hotel but paying €80 per night for a room that I’d only sleep in was ridiculous. For the same price I could get a room for three days at a B&B or budget hotel. So I packed the bike and checked out.
The insurance company had started to dick us around asking for Michele’s Medical History for the last two years, from our family doctor. As we’ve been on the road for almost three years it was ridiculous. When we told them we’ve been away from home for three years they then wanted a Medical History for longer. They were trying to ascertain whether Michele’s problem was a pre-existing condition.

The hospital staff were excellent and we were lucky that the cardiologist spoke English. It made getting information heaps easier. From the first night he’d suspected the chest pain wasn’t a heart attack but something else and he was correct. On Friday he’d made a diagnosis, a virus had settled in the heart muscle causing peri-cardititis, his prognosis was that with a course of tablets, Michele would be fine. (which of course was a great relief to both of us) In his doctors report he even stated that she’d be fine to get back on the bike and travelling….yeah
It was great news which got even better when the cardiologist released Michele from hospital on Friday. With this news we decided that Michele should take a few days in Sarlat-la-Canéda to recover before heading on. The bill for Michele’s hospital stay, including the ER and all the tests came to a total of $3,000. We went to the administration ready to pay, only to find the office empty. We just handballed it to the insurance company and left. They approved it pretty quickly and paid the account…another lesson on why you should never travel without travel insurance.


The B&B was on the edge of the old town, so it was close to restaurants and cafe’s. On Friday night Michele was feeling well enough to take a walk through the old town. The old town of Sarlat-la-Canéda dates from the 14th century and developed around the Benedictine monastery. The old town is a UNESCO Heritage site and the old stone buildings have been beautifully restored. Sarlat-la-Canéda is quite a popular tourist location with English, and German tourists during the season.

We found a pizza restaurant which reinforced that statement. As we were eating our pizza, German and English language floated across the restaurant. After a few days of terrible hospital food, Michele had her appetite back, so enjoyed her dinner.

Saturday was market day in Sarlat-la-Canéda so the length of Rue Republique was packed with market stalls. The markets were huge extending into the surrounding streets. It was fascinating seeing what was for sale. The French love their markets and they love their food. As such the markets sell all sorts of stuff, jewellery, clothes, shoes, souvenirs, cheese, meats, fish, and foie gras. The region is famous for the stuff. There’s even a foie gras trail around the area. We’ve heard of wine trails but goose liver pâté ……… whoa.

Wandering through the old town we really loved the beautifully restored old medieval buildings.

Whilst taking a break at the Tourist Bureau Michele met a Kiwi couple, Jeff and Angela, who were travelling around in a campervan. It was great chatting to them about their travels and getting their insights. We got on like a house on fire and spent the rest of the day just hanging out. Michele was glad to have another woman to chat to, so she made up for lost time. For me it was great talking bikes, cars and blokes stuff with Jeff.

The New Zealand All Blacks were playing France so we met up at a PMU cafe bar for the game. The locals got into the action cheering their side on but they were not in the contest. The All Blacks were a better side and our new kiwi friends had smiles like split watermelons.

After four unexpected days in Sarlat-la-Canéda tomorrow we’re heading to Oradour-Sur-Glane whilst Jeff and Angela head towards Spain. It was really nice to hang out with Jeff and Angela if only for the short period. We really enjoyed the latter part of our stay in Sarlat-la-Canéda. It really is a beautiful city , it’s got a great hospital the reality is there are worse places to be stuck.

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