February 28, 2018

Paris, Plus a Dash of Auvergne

At the start of every volleyball season, I sit down with my calendar and start comparing the dates. The few open weekends of each year are like discovered treasure, and the possibilities for each of those weekends are endless when in Europe!

My previous free winter weekends have been spent in Italy, Austria, and Germany. This year it was time to return to my dear Paris, and toss in a quick trip down to Chamalières. It also happened to be the perfect weekend to hit four volleyball birds with one stone, as my former club, La Rochette, was playing against Gruissan, where one of my very close friends, Adeline, plays now. The very next day, Chamalières was scheduled to play against Béziers, and with one close friend (Kathleen) and three clients (Lauren, Paige, and Krystal) between those two teams, I could not have designed a more efficient weekend myself.

I am a big fan of mixing business with leisure, and leisure with business, so this was exactly my kind of long weekend. In between long walks down cobblestone lanes to lovely cafes in the Latin Quarter, I was busy networking, resurrecting my French, and reconnecting with old friends.

It was also a very different kind of trip to Paris for me, as I didn't blast my arrival to everyone I've ever known there and was able to keep my visit focused on the volleyball community. This was a really important factor, as many of my visits to "home" places (USA, France, etc.) end up stretching me too thin and I am not able to be in the moment with the people who are present.

I did get to spend a lot of quality time with Wendy, my teammate (and now club president!!) from St. Maur who graciously hosted me; Monique, my hilarious best friend of a French teacher; Adeline, my volleyball angel teammate; Kathleen, my volleyball setter buddy who hung out with us in Barcelona; and to have the opportunity to make new friends and to say hello to so many old friends who just happened to be at the games was priceless.

Paris was a delight, as always for me, and what made it even cooler this time around was Wendy's very in-the-know tour of the Latin Quarter restaurants and street scenes. This was an entire section of Paris that I had been missing out on! I don't dare share these street names or details right now as I want to experience more of the area before really getting into what there is to enjoy. ;)

Getting down to the Auvergne was easy by train, and it was so nice to finally see Kathleen's home and why she loves living in Chamalières so much! It was also awesome to finally meet Lauren and Paige after spending so much time talking to each other via phone for the past six months.

My next move was to go from Chamalières/Clermont-Ferrand to the Lyon airport. That ended up being much more complicated than expected! Apparently the normal bus to the airport does not run Tuesday through Thursday. Of course. I ended up not sleeping Monday night and staying up to take the 4:15AM bus to the Lyon airport! Needless to say, I was not late for my 1:30PM flight.

All in all, it was a fabulous weekend of friendships, food, and volleyball and I am so thankful that everyone's schedules worked out to make it happen!