I'm just back from a vacation in France, where I spent a day with Olivier, a frequent poster here at TalkBass. My mission was to track down some definitive information on my beloved orchestra bass, which had been identified by a high-profile, confident luthier (his initials are NOT Arnold Schnitzer, who is as modest as he is expert) as French, Mirecourt. Olivier researched luthiers based in Paris, even found two who had apprenticed for Georges Apparut (whose label is in my bass). Then he took a day off from work to meet me and guide me through the Paris subway system and then introduce me and translate for me with SIX different luthiers, including James Chauvelin, the "godfather" of French luthery. The experience, the knowledge gained, was breathtaking. It was a guided tour, with up-close, hands-on examination of French basses and pieces thereof, that was more exciting than I can describe. Some of the things I learned: My bass is NOT French. There is no necessary correlation between visiblity as a USA luthier and ability to deduce bass heritage. But this is about Olivier. You could not meet a nicer guy. When we weren't talking about basses, we were jabbering about all kinds of things and having a ball. His generosity went far beyond what could be expected, and his wit and intelligence made for a great day. If you're ever in France and run out of money, e-mail me and I'll give you Olivier's home phone number. One other thing: he told me the secret to making the best French fries. You don't want to know.