La Baule, Days 1 and 2: Friday/Saturday

Kathy Vick, Susan Wright and I left Paris early, got a taxi and had an adventure finding our TGV car at the Montparnasse station. We arrived very early to the train station, as traffic was light. Unlike Germany or Austria, in France or at least at the Paris Montparnasse station, the quais where the trains arrive aren’t announced till 20 minutes before the train leaves. We had too much luggage, or Susan and I did, Kathy was ok. I couldn’t read which car we were in…I asked and was told 13, Ann Pellow asked (she was in our group) and got 19. Ann was correct…and 19 turned out to be the second car from the end of a 30+ car train! Plus there were two trains connected in the middle, so the first set of cars went from 10-1, then back to 1-20. However we made it on the train and ran into Jack and Diane Barker who were in the next car, and eventually got our luggage sorted out.

We arrived in La Baule around noon and were picked up promptly. We practiced around two and I played with Jack while the four Maria Bueno Cup teammates practiced. The balls being used are Artengo, a French brand (made in Thailand) and they are light and lively. The courts are super dry and fast and very dusty with some interesting bounces. The lines are painted on too, not plastic lines nailed in as we have normally in the USA. The good thing about the courts being fast is that I came from hard courts and so they aren’t too bad. They are higher bouncing than hard courts but drop shots work pretty well still.

We hit the store and the gym later (for stretching and recovery) and finally got unpacked and situated.

La Baule is on the Atlantic Ocean near Nantes and south of Brittany. There was supposed to be a warm front coming in but now there isn’t so temperatures are predicted to be in the 70s with windy conditions all week.

Today I hit early with Jack, at 8am then again with my team, Tina Karwasky, Sherri Bronson and Wendy McColskey at 10:30-noon and again at 6 (!) with the team…we were supposed to hit at our site but transport didn’t arrive so we walked to the site where the 55s are playing and got in some doubles.  The site we play at is larger than the 55s venue but the courts were bumpier. There’s a tennis shop nearby which could be dangerous to our wallets this week!

Between our two hits I rented a bike for the two weeks and rode it to a bigger grocery store about 3 miles or so away. I didn’t arrive at the one I wanted to go to but it had what I was looking for so it didn’t matter…it’s always interesting to look around foreign grocery stores. Interestingly, peanut butter was only available in the foreign, or gourmet section (Skippy, creamy). No peanut butter at all is available in the local store near our hotel. Lots and lots of Nutella though.

I’m enjoying the French cheeses here. We do get some in the US but more here and they are much cheaper here! I also love the grated carrot salad and of course the baguettes, also quite reasonable and fresh every day.

Funny story of the day: Susan likes to eat a boiled egg  mid morning and took one with her from breakfast. When she got to the club she opened her purse and discovered…she’d taken a raw egg (which had broken…what a mess!). It turns out there’s a cooker next to the eggs, so diners can cook an egg to order. That’s the first part of the story. I was telling Sherri about it…and she gets a funny expression on her face…she’d done the same thing, wrapped up an egg to eat later, and was sure hers were cooked (they weren’t). So Susan’s experience and my story saved Sherri from a big mess. Moral of the story…don’t take eggs out of the restaurant or at least cook them first!

8 am and 11 am practice, captains meetings, opening ceremony and a conference call tomorrow…hope to update Monday on draws and so on.

Bon soir.



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