Monday, October 19, 2009

Paris Weather

We chose September and October both to miss the August tourist peak and to take advantage of the mild weather.

Unfortunately, the weather is getting a little TOO mild for our taste.

The average high temperature for the first 10 days of October ranged from 62 to 77 degrees which was very nice. What I didn't realize is that was 10 degrees warmer than normal. In fact, the 77 degrees on Oct 7 was a record for that day by 8 degrees!

The last 9 days however have returned to Paris normal, which means an average high of about 54 with an average low of 41. This included a low of 33(!) on the 15th, which also was a record by 6 degrees for that day.

So this month we have experienced a record daily high and daily low by significant margins.

The average high for the remainder of our trip will drop from 52 to 48 and the low will drop from 41 to 38.

Compared to Charlotte, where we are from, Paris runs 8-14 degrees cooler (with the biggest differences in the summer months) but during the winter, Charlotte's lows are about the same as Paris. Each city's average winter lows are around freezing but Charlotte gets about 8-10 degrees warmer during the day, probably due to more sunshine during the winter months.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Bowling In Mouffetard

After Brittain left last weekend, she sent me a text indicating that there was a bowling alley in Mouffetard, a old, lively, popular district in the 5th arrondissement, known for its market, restaurants and cafes.

Sure enough Bowling Mouffetard exists, albeit only 8 lanes two stories underground after you exit the main road through an arched passageway at 73 Rue Mouffetard.

Amanda and I took a brief visit after lunch yesterday and I took the following picture with my iPhone. This is not a serious bowling alley with leagues and such; it is clearly designed purely as entertainment along the lines of putt-putt and and other arcade games.

I did a little more research and there are additional bowling alleys in Paris, including one right across the street from Pere Lachaise Cemetery and another a block from Montparnasse Cemetery.

Remaining Schedule

With 2½ weeks to go, this is our remaining schedule:

Loire Valley Tuesday and Wednesday (Oct 20-21)

We will pick up a rental car at Orly Airport early Tuesday morning and drive the couple hours to the Loire Valley southwest of Paris. We will spend the night at Domaine de Beauvois and return Wednesday night.

Lily Allen Concert Thursday night at Le Zenith (Oct 22)

England Friday through Tuesday (Oct 23-27)

We will fly to London and spend two nights then drive to Holbeach, Lincolnshire, England to visit Amanda's aunt and cousins. (Amanda was born in England, which is where her mother is from).

When we return, we will have less than one week left to see the rest of Paris.

No More Visitors

With the departure of Christina, Angela, and Kent this morning, the 6 week gauntlet of visitors is finished. I can't quite believe we pulled it off.

As nice as it was to hang out with each set of guests in Paris, it will be relaxing to finally be back to just me and Amanda for the final 2½ weeks.

Under even the best of circumstances (and this was pretty good circumstances!), it can be stressful to host friends and family in close quarters and adapt to each others quirks and personalities, especially when everyone is outside their normal routine.

Knowing what we know now, I would still like to have visitors if we take an extended trip again (which I hope we do), but we decided we need to space them out at least a week apart instead of having one set of visitors arrive just as the previous is leaving just so we can catch our breath.

Christina, Angela, Kent Leave

Christina, Angela and Kent (Christina's boyfriend) left this morning, getting up at 6a to leave by 7a.

Having already been here almost 8 weeks when they arrived, they pretty much did everything on their own, seeing most of the sites one should see for one week in Paris, capped off by a Fleetwood Mac concert last night.

Angela, as usual, enjoyed the shopping more than the monuments, while Kent enjoyed the technical and historical sites (including the Science Museum at Park Villette, while Christina wanted to stay up late and explore the night life.

Fleetwood Mac in Concert

Last night was our 6th concert in Paris: Fleetwood Mac at Le Zenith, which included Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham, Mick Fleetwood, and John McVie.

Le Zenith is located in the 19th arrondissement, in the extreme northeast part of Paris on the grounds of La Villette park, the largest landscaped park in Paris.

The concert was scheduled to start at 8p but we (Amanda, Christina, Angela, Kent and myself) had dinner with Alex and Andrea (who had just returned from Japan) at Les Fountains near the Pantheon, not far from our apartment.

We figured if we left the restaurant at 7:30, we could get to the concert just in time.

We figured wrong.

I'm not sure it's possible to complete a meal for 7 people in 90 minutes in a decent restaurant in Paris. So, while the dinner and company were great, we didn't leave the restaurant until 8p and had a minimum 30 minute metro ride to the grounds of the concert.

Of course, as fate would have it, the metro line we chose ended prematurely, halfway to our destination. Apparently, all stops after Republique were inactive due to repair work so we had to disembark and re-route through a couple other lines which eventually got us to the park a little before 9p and it took us almost 15 minutes to find Le Zenith, where we had floor standing tickets.

I had 6 tickets but because one of Christina's friends couldn't make the trip to Paris, I had an extra which I thought I would sell at the arena but arriving late made that difficult. Fortunately, some lonely scalper offered me 10 EUR just as I arrived, which I quickly and happily scooped up. 10 EUR is better than nothing although the tickets were 45 EUR.

Le Zenith only holds 6,000 people which I thought absurdly small for a group the stature of Fleetwood Mac. Coldplay sold out 50,000 seats at Parc de Prince. Green Day sold out 20,000 at Bercy. Surely Fleetwood Mac has their status, no?

I mean I saw Fleetwood Mac in Charlotte in April at Time Warner Cable Arena, which holds almost 20,000. (By the way, do you think Amanda and I were the only two people to see Fleetwood Mac both in Charlotte and Paris?)

I guess Fleetwood Mac is just not that well-known or popular in France.

In any case, we arrived a little after 9p and the band was already playing. I didn't know if there was an opening act so I wasn't sure how long they had been on stage. However, from some of their remarks (Buckingham: "so glad to be back in Paris after 20 years", Nicks: "Last time I think we were drunk. I was coming back to Paris if I was going to stand on a street corner and sing"), it appeared they hadn't been playing long.

While we were at the back of the floor, we were still much closer than in Charlotte. Le Zenith was designed first and foremost as a concert arena so it has good sight lines and sound but it was still a little strange seeing Fleetwood Mac in such a small setting.

The stage set and lighting were minimal compared to the concert in Charlotte and the crowd was definitely older.

They played till almost 11p, including the encores, giving us almost 2 hours of music so I don't think we missed too much of the early part of the show. The last song they played was one of their most enduring, Don't Stop. Unfortunately, the keyboard player ran into some technical problems, causing them to restart the song twice (after a technician came on stage to fix the problem), which prompted Stevie Nicks to lightheartedly say something like: "If this was an acoustic band, this wouldn't happen. But as soon as you plug something in, you have these kinds of problems."

As was the case in Charlotte, Lindsey Buckingham was really the star although Nicks' voice is the signature of the band. It was their addition in 1975 that changed the band from blues to pop rock and launched their stardom when I was in high school!

All in all a good show but I was a little scattered due to the hectic schedule getting there and didn't feel too motivated to take a lot of pictures or record any audio/video as I've done with earlier shows so I mostly just enjoyed the show.

Here are a couple of pics I took of the stage set:

John Belushi Portrait in the Louvre?

While visiting the Louvre on Wednesday, I ran across the following portrait.

What the heck is a portrait of John Belushi doing in the Louvre?

This is the full clip from Animal House:

Actually, the portrait is of Emperor Domitian by Domenico Fetti.

Had me fooled for a second.