Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Bonjour a Paris!
This week I travelled to Saint Maximin, France for the 7th stop of the World Bowling Tour to compete in the Brunswick Euro Challenge, a premiere event on the European Bowling Tour. Having been to this same tournament four years prior and having done well, I felt good going into the week.
The tournament format was like most of the European Bowling Tour stops. You bowled 6 games of qualifying and there were multiple squads throughout the entire week. You could re-enter as many times as you wanted in order to try and make the cut to the top 52 players. Women also received 8 pins of handicap per game, as there was not a separate women’s division.
I travelled to France with my father-in-law, which proved to be very helpful, as he had lived in France once upon a time and spoke French. He also was my chauffer, in our little white Twingo stick-shift that we rented (slightly bigger than a smart car), as I was not comfortable driving over there.
Saint Maximin is about 30 miles North of the City of Paris. It’s a smaller modern town surrounded by the beautiful French countryside. The tournament was held at Plaza Bowling Saint Maximin, a very sleek modern center with 28 lanes and an upscale restaurant situated on one end.
The day we arrived, we did a little sightseeing in Paris. We went to the Sacre Coeur, a beautiful white basilica sitting on top of a hill, with sweeping views of the entire city of Paris. We also saw the Moulin Rouge, as I wanted to see the famous sight (after having seen the movie.)
Then next day, I bowled my first qualification squad at 9pm. Since I had most of the day free, we decided to venture to the nearby city of Senlis. There was a gorgeous gothic cathedral in town and also ruins of the Royal Palace dating back to the 12th century. The city was such a quaint town with small narrow cobblestone roads, Roman and Medieval city walls and small little shops. It was a rare find and I’m thrilled we found it!
After the visit to Senlis, I went to the bowling center to watch the first squad bowl and get a feel for the lanes. Although it was early in the week, I was guessing that it would take about +160 to make the cut, so with my handicap, I needed to bowl +120ish over scratch. I thought I had learned a lot by watching and felt ready for my squad; however, I bowled terribly and shot -84 scratch.
I bowled another squad the next day at noon and it was a little better, but still not good enough for making the cut, as I only shot +16 scratch. So I decided to see if I could bowl the next squad and was able to get on the waiting list and get a spot. I thought for sure that I had figured out the lanes, but again had another frustrating block of -28 scratch.
The next morning, I bowled the early 8 am squad and started out really well, only to be plagued by bad pairs my 3rd and 6th game, to leave me at +49 scratch. I was happy with how I physically threw the ball that block and decided to give myself the rest of the day off and try one last squad the next day.
After bowling, I wanted to do something fun, so we ventured off to the fairytale-esque city of Pierrefonds. The small little town featured a crystal clear lake surrounded with small shops and restaurants. But the main attraction lay high atop a hill, overlooking the cobblestone town - a medieval castle, straight out of Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty fairytales. It was originally built at the end of the 15th century, but lay in ruins until it was restored in the 1800s by Napoleon I.
This was by far the highlight of my trip, as I dearly love castles and could never grow tired of seeing new ones. We took a castle tour, which allowed us entry into the heart of the castle – the chapel, grand apartments, main dining hall, torture tower and several other rooms. It was absolutely breathtaking!
The next day, I bowled my final squad of the tournament. I started out really well, shooting games of 228 and 243. However, my 3rd game, I caught some very unlucky breaks, shooting 169. I then shot 194 and needed to bowl some high games my last two to have any chance. I struck out for 211 and then starting stringing strikes the last game. I ended the block with a nice 255 game, striking out in the 10th frame. That put me at exactly +100 scratch, and I knew I had fallen short.
After my block, I wanted a little cheering up, so we did some more sightseeing. We visited the Chateau de Chantilly, an 18th century palace that was very near to our hotel. After the visit, we went back to watch the last squad of the night finish up. I ended up missing the cut by exactly 10 pins. Not giving up, I tried one last shot and bowled the desperado squad, a one-game shootout match. There were about 80 people who bowled in the desperado squad and they would only take the top 4 scores. I started the game out well with an early double, but when I turned another possible double into a split, I was done for.
Although I didn’t make the finals on Sunday, there are worse places to miss the finals. LOL! We spent the day sightseeing in Paris. For most of the day, we visited the Palace of Versailles and took a private tour to view King Louis XIV’s bedchambers and the chapel. Then we visited the rest of the Palace, including the historically famous Hall of Mirrors and gardens.
Afterwards, it was getting late, and a trip to Paris wouldn’t be complete without going to the Eiffel tower. So we headed that direction. We got to see the Eiffel Tower light up at night, along with its twinkling light show. It was the prefect end to a great trip (minus the bowling part of it.)