Wednesday, September 17, 2014


Lagny at dusk
Well we have reached our winter mooring at Port Cergy, on the outskirts of Paris. After leaving Meaux we travelled down the last stretch of the Marne to Lagny, a really nice little market town where I could have happily stayed for 3 or 4 days. The town had a really nice feel, with the mooring almost in the centre of town and the convenience of a train service into Paris. Unfortunately we needed to get to Cergy quicker than we originally planned so only managed an overnight stay at Lagny.
Our next stop was at Maison Alfort, only one lock away from the Seine. Once again a relatively quiet mooring but, like Lagny, subject to lots of rocking around when the large commercial barges went past.
So onto the Seine. Going around the Ile de la Cite is a one way scenario with 15minute slots each hour, depending on whether you are going upstream or downstream. our slot (downstream)was 35 minutes to 50 minutes past the hour. We arrived at 8:55 so had to wait on the pontoon outside Port Arsenal till 9:30 but then had a dream run through the centre of Paris. Most of the tourist boats hadn't started yet so the water was a lot calmer than the Thames through the middle of London. And we got to see all the major Parisian sites from a different perspective - from our own boat. From the Notre Dame on Ile de la Cite to the replica of the Statue of Liberty with the Eiffel Tower in the background, we managed to capture all the sights. We even saw turtles nestling on the roots of a tree on the banks of the Seine.
After a longish day of 6 hours of cruising our first night on the Seine was spent on an island in the Seine at Rueil-Malmaison. This island became a favourite haunt of many of the impressionists. We also met a couple of Swiss high school students who were painting scenes along the Seine as a school excursion. Sounds like a pretty amazing private school as they also told us they went on overseas excursions every year.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Marne

The Marne is a river that has been canalised in parts to help boats cruise along its length, with deviations made to shorten it and also locks added where there would normally have been rapids. It meanders through the Champagne region and joins with the Seine just outside of Paris. The upper reaches are very picturesque with broad sweeps of river and Kevin has loved being on a river again. The boat prefers the "freedom" of a flowing river rather than the narrower confines of a canal. As we are heading downstream we have had a bit of a current behind us so are making about 10kph with very little effort from the boat.
Once again we have been meeting up with a number of other English speaking people but the traffic is very light. No where near as busy as we were expecting. Many people blame the weather, although it hasn't been that bad, and they are also blaming a downturn in the economy. What this does mean though is that we are able to find moorings in most places so we have been taking our time sailing down the Marne and staying several days in little towns.
After leaving Damery, we stayed at Dormans, then Chateau Thierry. We arrived on the weekend when the march celebrating the liberation of Paris was taking place so managed to get a front row view. All the towns show evidence of damage done during WWI and many have memorials or museums paying tribute to the French and their allies and also to the part played by the resistance. In Dormans there was a large church in the ground of Dormans Chateau (as well as a champagne museum in the old mill) and at Chateau Thierry there is the huge American monument. La Ferte sous Joarre has a large Commonwealth memorial.
As we have sailed around we seem to have missed the local markets. This has been very disappointing as this is one of the aspects we love about France. Going to a supermarket doesn't have quite the same appeal. Well we have finally arrived at Meaux and they have several markets during the week. We have just returned with a bounty of fresh donut peaches, lovely ripe figs, amazing variety of mushrooms including swiss brown, oyster and girolles and fresh herbs. Kevin couldn't resist the the cooked meat stall. He purchased a whole roast duckling, two paupiettes de lapin (rabbit), pork sausage and turkey chilli sausage and a heap of roast potatoes. So lunch and dinner are sorted - probably for the next 2 days. There is another market tomorrow on the other side of the river so we'll check that out as well.